Australian Bureau of Statistics
Current Household Surveys
MONTHLY POPULATION SURVEY (MPS)
The Monthly Population Survey (MPS) has been carried out since 1960 to provide regular information about the population and the labour force of Australia. The figures for Australia's employment and unemployment come from this survey.
Your household is one of approximately 35,000 around Australia selected by the ABS to take part in the survey each month. It is an official survey conducted under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905.
The information collected in the MPS is used in Government economic policy decision making and in other economic planning and research by the Commonwealth and State Governments, industry, business, trade unions and academics.
What details are required?
The main component of the MPS is the Labour Force Survey (LFS). In the LFS, employed people will be asked some questions on topics such as hours worked, their occupation and the type of industry in which they work. People looking for work will be asked questions on topics such as steps taken to look for work and the length of time they have been looking for work. Retired people and people who are neither working nor looking for work will be asked some questions to clarify their current situation and future intentions.
In some months you might be asked additional questions on various topics including education, the environment, conditions of employment or child care arrangements.
During July to December 2009, a small portion of respondents will be asked about work related injuries, participation in sports and physical recreation, attendance at cultural venues and events, sports attendance, patient experience, family characteristics and crime and safety.
The questions can usually be answered for all of your household members in a few minutes and the answers can be provided by any adult member of the household. The interview is conducted using a notebook computer.
How long will I be in the survey?
Interviews will be conducted for your dwelling once every month for eight months. An ABS interviewer (with an official identification card) will visit your home for the first interview. In the following months, where possible, interviews will be conducted by telephone.
Why do I have to do it for eight months?
One of the main reasons for the MPS is to measure changes in the labour force over time. To reduce burden on your household and to provide reliable information on the current status of the labour force, households are replaced every eight months. Seven-eights of the month-to-month sample is the same as the previous month.
Why is it important that all those selected take part in the survey?
The sample is designed to provide a balanced representation of all households in Australia so that the estimates made from the data reflect, as closely as possible, all households. If some households do not participate, this may result in one type of household being represented more often than another type, which may result in biases in the data.
What provision is made for respondents who do not speak English well?
Arrangements can be made for the interview to be conducted by an ABS interviewer fluent in the language of the householder or using an interpreter.
Will respondents be paid for their time?
No. As with other household surveys, the ABS relies on the willing cooperation of households.
Why are Notebook computers being used for the survey interview?
Using notebook computers helps to minimise the number of mistakes that can be made when information is being collected or processed. This improves the quality and reliability of the survey data. Additionally, notebook computers make it easier for interviewers to conduct the interview smoothly and speed up the interview process.
The use of Notebook computers increases the security of the information collected as it can only be accessed by the interviewer and the ABS officers responsible for processing the data.
Is the survey compulsory?
The Census and Statistics Act 1905 authorises the ABS to ask the questions in the survey. The ABS's approach is to seek the willing cooperation of the selected householders by explaining to them that the survey is of national importance and that the information collected from them will ultimately benefit all Australians. Most households recognise the importance of the survey and the need to collect accurate information that is representative of all households.
Do householders have to give ABS interviewers right of entry to their home?
No. Interviewers can enter the household only by invitation from the householder; however, it would be helpful if a suitable chair and table was made available (inside or outside the house) as the interviewer will be using a notebook computer to collect the information.
Will the information provided be confidential?
Yes. Under the Census and Statistics Act 1905, all information provided for the MPS remains confidential. By this we mean that the ABS is under an obligation to ensure that data released to the public, or to any other government department or body, cannot identify any individual who provides their information. The information from individuals is formed into statistics that generalise about population groups and the population as a whole.
The secrecy provisions of the legislation provide for a penalty of up to $5,000 or two years in jail for ABS officers who breach these confidentiality rules. There have been no breaches of confidentiality in the past – the ABS has an unblemished record in this regard.
Where can I obtain the survey results?
Full survey results are published monthly on the ABS website in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).
If you want further information about the Monthly Population Survey or copies of the published results, please contact the ABS office in your state or territory.
GENERAL SOCIAL SURVEY (GSS) 2014
The General Social Survey (GSS) is a multi-dimensional social survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The GSS provides information about the social characteristics and well-being of the Australian population every four years. The GSS 2014 will be conducted from 2 March to 28 June 2014.
What information is collected?
Many factors are likely to influence peoples’ heath, social or working life, financial situation, living conditions or their general well-being. The GSS collects a range of topics to allow a better understanding of the relationships between different aspects of peoples’ lives, including:
The information will be collected via a personal interview and the answers treated confidentially.
How was the content of the survey determined?
To determine the content of the survey, the ABS consults with a wide range of users of the survey data, which is used in policy development and to evaluate programs which effect many people in Australia. These users include government departments as well as academic and other research organisations such as welfare and service providers.
SURVEY OF INCOME AND HOUSING (SIH) 2013-2014
The Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) is one of the most important special social surveys conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). It is the primary source of information on household income, housing costs and household wealth.
The information collected in the SIH will enable an assessment of the economic and social wellbeing of Australians, including how work and family responsibilities are balanced and how income and wealth are distributed across the Australian population.
The SIH commenced in 1994 and is conducted every two years, with the last collection in 2011–12. The 2013–14 SIH will be conducted over the period 30 June 2013 and 28 June 2014.
What information is collected?
In addition to collecting general information including age, birthplace, employment, education and income, the SIH collects information about dwelling tenure, assets, liabilities, loans, housing, and child care costs.
A household spokesperson who is aged 18 years and over and a usual resident of the household will be nominated to answer loan and housing questions on behalf of the household. Individual interviews with each person aged 15 years and over in the household will collect information on their employment and income.
The ABS consults with a wide range of data users in determining the content of the survey. These users include government departments, business groups, universities, service providers, welfare agencies and other research organisations. The SIH is the most detailed source of information on household income, housing costs and housing tenure, with the range and type of information obtained generally not available from other sources.
Each selected dwelling (and its residents) represents a number of others in that area, state and in Australia. The information collected from each selected household is used to represent a number of others which are like them in terms of their household composition, location, age, employment characteristics, income and housing tenure. The cooperation of all those selected is important to ensure all households and individuals are properly represented in the survey and so are properly reflected in the survey results.
This page first published 23 August 2006, last updated 20 February 2014