Microdata Entry Page

The ABS collects data from a range of sources including surveys, censuses and administrative collections. This data is used to create microdata files, which contain detailed information about individuals, businesses and other groups. Within a microdata file, each record or row of the dataset represents the information relating to one person, household or business.

Access to microdata is carefully managed to protect privacy and confidentiality. Users need to apply and be approved by the ABS before accessing microdata. The ABS only provides access to microdata to researchers for statistical purposes. Microdata is released using methods and systems that protect the confidentiality people, households, and businesses. For more information about confidentiality, see the ABS Confidentiality Series and How ABS keeps your information confidential.

Microdata allows researchers to conduct in-depth analysis and research, informing decisions of importance to Australia. Some typical uses of microdata include production of papers, journal articles, books, PhD theses and microsimulation. Published Research using microdata provides many examples of what is possible.

Users should read the Responsible Use of ABS Microdata Guide to understand their obligations when using microdata.


If you want to build, customise, save and export your own tables, graphs and maps in a range of output formats TableBuilder is a good place to start. It is an online tool for creating tables and graphs based on the underlying microdata. Starting with an empty table, data variables can be selected for cross-tabulation. There are options to display counts, percentages and relative standard errors in your table or calculate means, medians and quantiles for continuous variables such as income. Tables and graphs are automatically treated to protect privacy and confidentiality before the output is provided to you.

If you want to conduct a more detailed statistical analysis, a Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) may be the best option. CURFs are available in Basic and Expanded formats. Basic CURFs contain fully confidentialised microdata, which can be used in your own environment. Basic CURFs are available from MicrodataDownload. Expanded CURFs contain more detailed information for each record and are accessed by logging into the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) or via the DataLab, where checks are made to ensure all outputs are confidential.

Detailed microdata
If you want to conduct complex statistical analyses on highly detailed data then detailed microdata files have been designed to suit your needs. These files are designed specifically for use within the secure DataLab environment. There are strict controls on the researchers who are able to access detailed microdata files and the purpose for which they can use the files. No unit record information is allowed to leave the DataLab. All of the output that you want to use outside the DataLab are carefully checked by the ABS before release to ensure they meet our confidentiality standards and cannot be used to re-identify an individual or organisation.

To find the most appropriate microdata product for your research, see Access modes and levels of detail and Available microdata.