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Newsletters - National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics (NCCRS) - July Quarter 2001

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Data on the size, activities and outputs of cultural service industries are considered by many in the sector to provide fundamental information for decision-making, planning and evaluation. For this reason, the ABS recently collected data on a number of such industries in respect of the 1999-2000 financial year. Publications based on these collections are being released progressively. In this edition of the newsletter, a number of key findings from those publications released to date are presented. Forthcoming publications, which are planned for release in August 2001, describe Film and video production and distribution, Commercial art galleries and the Performing arts industries.

Meanwhile, data on a large number of sport and recreation service industries will be collected later this year with respect to the 2000-01 financial year. The data from these surveys will be available from mid 2002.

In addition to those mentioned above, a number of other publications of relevance to the culture, sport and leisure sectors were released in the past quarter. These include a look at what the Olympics did for the accommodation sector in 2000 and an examination of the leisure activities of Tasmanians. Meanwhile, some data collections are currently being undertaken by the ABS that will provide us with up-to-date information on the physical activity levels of Australians and on sporting facilities in Indigenous communities. Finally, one of the most common questions we receive here at NCCRS is: 'Why are the ABS and Sweeney survey results on sport participation and attendance so different?' Information on all of these topics can be found in this edition of the newsletter.

Over the next few months, NCCRS expects to release a number of publications. In particular, the ABS Cultural Funding, 1999-2000 publication (ABS Cat. no. 4183.0) is scheduled for release in late July. In addition, the Book Publishers,1999-2000 report (ABS Cat. no. 1363.0) and the Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications (ABS Cat. no. 4902.0) are due out shortly. The next edition of this newsletter will provide details on these reports.

Adriana Vanden Heuvel


Results of an ABS survey of the leisure activities of Tasmanians have recently been published in Leisure and Cultural Participation, Tasmania, October 2000 (ABS Cat. no. 4904.6; $18.50). Information was collected on participation in selected outdoor activities and attendance at cultural activities and events by Tasmanians aged 15 years and over in the 12 months to October 2000.

An estimated 42% of Tasmanians participated in at least one of the surveyed outdoor recreation activities in the 12 month period. The overall participation rate for the surveyed outdoor activities was significantly higher for males (47%) than females (39%). The most popular of the outdoor recreation activities were bushwalking (with a participation rate of 24%) and freshwater fishing (15%).

An estimated 57% of Tasmanians attended a cultural activity or event in the 12 months to October 2000. Attendance at cultural activities was more popular amongst women: 63% of women attended compared with 51% of men. Attendance rates were highest for museum visits (33%), art gallery visits (28%).



In the 12 months to June 2000 there were 27.5 million admissions to museums, galleries and historic properties. Of these admissions, 60% were free. The average price per paid admission was $4.80.

At the end of June 2000, there were 2,049 museum establishments in Australia. These contained a total of 61.6 million artefacts, artworks and museum objects, of which 16% were on display. Australian museums directly employed 6,956 persons, 59% of whom were employed on a full-time basis. In addition, museums employed 484 people who were paid by related organisations. The sector was particularly dependent on volunteers, with almost 30,000 volunteers working in Australian museums in June 2000.

These results were published in Museums, 1999-2000 (ABS Cat. no. 8560.0; $18.50).


In the year ending June 2000, there were 99.4 million visits to the National Library and State and local government libraries - an increase of over 10% since 1996-97. Some 93.3 million visits were made to local government libraries, representing 4.9 visits per head of population for the year. Visiting local government libraries was particularly popular in South Australia (6.7 visits per person), the ACT (5.7 visits) and Tasmania (5.6 visits).

As at the end of June 2000, there were 1,510 local government library locations operating in Australia. Total holding stock of these libraries was 39.4 million books and other materials. Local government libraries contained 2,832 Internet workstations - an increase of 242% since the end of June 1997.

Local government libraries employed 9,592 people and a further 4,493 volunteers worked in local government libraries during June 2000. The National Library and State libraries employed 2,248 people.

These results were published in Public Libraries, 1999-2000 (ABS Cat. no. 8561.0; $19.00).


During 1999-2000, 152 million video rental transactions were made by businesses in the video hire industry, representing an average of eight transactions per person. The video hire transactions comprised 67 million new release videos rented at an average price of $4.60 each and 85 million other videos rented at $1.60 each.

At the end of June 2000, there were 1,166 businesses operating in the video hire industry. These businesses employed 11,034 people, 66% of whom were employed on a casual basis. Females made up 61% of those employed in the industry.

These results were published in Video Hire Industry, 1999-2000 (ABS Cat. no. 8562.0; $18.00).


In the 12 months to June 2000 there were 11.8 million visitors to the 123 employing botanic gardens in Australia. These gardens covered a total area of 3,664 hectares and held 7.4 million plant specimens.

Botanic gardens employed 1,250 people, 78% of whom worked on a full-time permanent basis. In addition, a further 1,991 volunteers worked for botanic gardens, giving a total of 3,241 staff at the end of June 2000.

The main contributors to botanic garden statistics were the six large organisations with employment of 50 or more. These large organisations accounted for 69% of the employees, 42% of the volunteers, 72% of the plant specimens and 62% of the visitors.

These results were published in Botanic Gardens, 1999-2000 (ABS Cat. no. 8563.0; $17.50).


Average box office takings per paid admission rose by up 15% between 1996-97 and 1999-00 from $7.50 to $8.60. In the 12 months to June 2000, there were a total of 79.4 million paid admissions to cinemas. On average each Australian visited the cinema 4 times during the year, a figure relatively unchanged from 1996-97.

In 1999-2000, there were 173 businesses operating 325 cinema sites and 17 drive-in sites containing a total of 1,540 screens. While the total number of cinema sites has remained virtually unchanged since June 1994, the number of cinema screens in Australia has doubled. The motion picture exhibition industry employed 9,282 people at June 2000 - 60% more than at June 1994. Of these 81% were employed on a casual basis.

The industry is dominated by the eight largest motion picture exhibition businesses, each of which had an income greater than $8 million. These businesses accounted for 68% of industry employment, 74% of paid cinema admissions and 70% of cinema screens.

These results were published in Motion Picture Exhibition, 1999-2000 (ABS Cat. no. 8654.0; $17.50).


Results from the second national ABS survey of voluntary work have recently been published in Voluntary Work, 2000 (ABS Cat. no. 4441.0; $22.00).

In the 12 months prior to interview in 2000, there were 1.5 million volunteer involvements in sport and recreation organisations and 270,000 volunteer involvements in arts and cultural organisations. (For each volunteer, the number of 'volunteer involvements' is the number of organisations for which voluntary work was done.) Volunteer involvements in sport and recreation organisations represented 23% of all volunteer involvements during the year, second only to community and welfare organisations (24%) and almost double the number of involvements in arts/culture, environmental and health organisations combined.

In the case of both sport and recreation organisations and arts and cultural organisations, the majority of volunteer involvements were provided by people who had been contributing their efforts for at least a year, with around 20% of volunteer involvements to these organisations provided by people who had been involved for more than 10 years. During 2000, volunteers to sport and recreation organisations contributed a total of 147.7 million hours, while volunteers to arts and cultural organisations contributed a total of 33.6 million hours. In the case of sport and recreation, 62% of the voluntary hours contributed were provided by men. In contrast, women were responsible for 73% of the voluntary hours contributed to arts and cultural organisations.

NCCRS plans to conduct further analysis of the voluntary work data specifically focusing on sport and recreation and arts and culture. Results of this will be made available in the near future.


There are two key sources of national data on sport participation and attendance in Australia: the ABS and Sweeney Research. When comparing the results reported by these two organisations, significant differences are apparent, with the ABS data consistently the lower of the two. For example, for 1998-99, ABS data indicate an overall participation rate of 59%, while Sweeney data indicate a rate of 88%. In terms of attendance at sporting events, the ABS attendance rate stood at 47%, compared with Sweeney's rate of 65%. When examining rates for individual sports, the same picture emerges, with Sweeney rates higher in nearly all cases than those of the ABS.

NCCRS has recently prepared a report that aims to explain possible reasons for the differences in the recorded participation and attendance rates. As detailed in the report, two of the key reasons generally cited for the observed differences relate to differences in the geographical coverage of the surveys and the age range of respondents. In order to take these differences into account, the ABS figures were recalculated using (to the extent possible) the same geographical and age parameters as the Sweeney research. Results indicated that while the adjusted ABS figures were somewhat higher, large differences between the ABS and Sweeney rates were still evident. In the report, other reasons for the disparity of the results are proposed and discussed. Copies of this report are available from Ben Smith, NCCRS (08 8237 7404).


On 11 May 2001, the ABS released Tourism Indicators Australia, December 2000 (ABS Cat. no. 8634.0; $27.00). This publication includes a special article on the impact of the Sydney Olympics on tourist accommodation across Australia.

In September 2000, overall takings across all types of accommodation were 114% higher than in September 1999. The following chart clearly highlights the impact of the Olympics on monthly takings in NSW (it should be noted that data from July 2000 onwards includes the GST).

Monthly Takings from Tourist Accommodation, NSW
graph - Monthly Takings from Tourist Accommodation, NSW

In Sydney, takings in September 2000 were 162% higher than those in September 1999. Sydney contributed 82% to the total takings for New South Wales and 43% to takings nationally for September 2000.

While tourist accommodation takings and room occupancy rates soared in New South Wales, and in particular in Sydney, during the Olympics, figures relating to tourist accommodation across the rest of Australia showed little change in comparison with the same period in 1999.


While there has been a fall in the number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) since September 2000, the number of registered Internet subscribers has continued to increase. At the end of the March quarter 2001 there were 665 ISPs supplying Internet access services to just under 4 million Internet subscribers across Australia.

Further details can be found in Internet Activity Australia (ABS Cat. no. 8153.0; $19.50).


The latest version of the National Sport and Recreation Industry Database and Directory (NSRIDD) was released in July 2001. NSRIDD is a repository of ABS data relating to sport and recreation. State and Territory data are available in most cases. The latest release of NSRIDD includes data from: the 1999-2000 survey on Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, as well as data from the labour force and tourist accommodation surveys for the 2000 calendar year. NSRIDD is provided to each member of RSISG, and may be accessed by contacting the RSISG member in each State or Territory Government office responsible for sport and recreation.

More information and contact details may be found



The 2001 Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) is now in the field. The CHINS is a survey of housing and infrastructure in Indigenous Australian communities. The information from the CHINS is intended to assist in the evaluation of policies and programs designed to improve housing and infrastructure services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in discrete communities and other community managed housing. The survey will include questions on sporting facilities (e.g. sports grounds and swimming pools) and their frequency of use. Data are expected to be released in February 2002.


Do active people use fewer medical services? Are they less likely to smoke? Do they weigh more or less than sedentary people? The ABS 2001 National Health Survey (NHS), which will collect data to help answer these questions, is underway. This is the fifth large scale survey of health conducted by the ABS since 1977. The survey is being conducted in about 20,000 private dwellings across Australia over the period from February to December 2001. The sample for the survey will be smaller than the previous NHS conducted in 1995. While mainly covering people aged 15 years and over, some data on children will also be collected. The exercise questions will only be asked of adults and will be the same as those used in the 1995 NHS, thus allowing for a comparison over time of exercise levels of the Australian population. Results of the survey are expected to become available from September 2002.


As from Wednesday 11 July 2001, the ABS National Information Service (NIS) has changed its name to the ABS National Information and Referral Service (NIRS). The National Information and Referral Service can be contacted on 1300 135 070.



Culture Topics: Chris Giddings on (08) 8237 7326

Sport Topics: Benjamin Smith on (08) 8237 7404

Director: Adriana Vanden Heuvel on (08) 8237 7399

Fax: (08) 8237 7366

National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics
Australian Bureau of Statistics
GPO Box 2272

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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