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A range of data on culture and leisure exists in Australia, sourced from surveys conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) or from surveys and administrative compilations from other bodies, such as industry organisations, industry associations, educational institutions and market research companies. Information provided by data collections includes:
The ABS, in its role as Australia’s official statistical agency, seeks to coordinate statistical activities in Australia in order to promote a more unified body of statistical information and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort. With respect to culture and leisure, this task has been principally carried out by the National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics (NCCRS). One way of improving coordination and comparability between the various data collections is to encourage the use of a common set of classifications. The ACLC, first developed in 2001, were a first step towards achieving that outcome.
These classifications are intended for use in the collection and dissemination of statistics about culture and leisure related components of Australia’s economy and work force.
In order to collect information and present statistics on any topic, the subject area must be defined clearly. The concept of ‘culture and leisure’ has been the subject of considerable debate both nationally and internationally over the years. In its broadest sense, ‘culture’ is a term used to describe learned ways of life or a shared sense of identity or purpose. ‘Leisure’ denotes activities undertaken by a person for enjoyment, refreshment, relaxation or diversion. There are connections and overlaps between ‘culture’ and ‘leisure’. In particular, many activities concerned with the expression, maintenance and preservation of culture are often associated with leisure activities. The numerous complexities inherent in these terms are described in greater detail in the ABS publication Measuring Wellbeing: Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics, 2001.
Over the years, analysts and policy makers working with this field of statistics have tended to develop practical ‘activity-based’ definitions of culture and leisure. The ACLC classifications are based on such an approach; that is, culture and leisure activities are considered to be those undertaken for the purpose of:
The ACLC does not cover all classifications of relevance to culture and leisure. There are a range of other classifications that are also important in this field of statistics. For example, the ABS classification of expenditure items, used in the Household Expenditure Survey and Survey of Income and Housing, includes expenditure on culture and leisure goods and services. The 2006 Time Use Activity classification includes ‘free time’ (i.e. discretionary time, which is free of obligation or duty, where individuals can choose the way in which they spend their time, including culture and leisure activities). In addition, collections in the culture and leisure area have adopted various classifications and lists in the production of outputs. These include the types of sports and physical activities people participate in, selected cultural venues people visit and the type of sporting involvement (such as player or participant, coach, referee, or committee member).
People often spend money in order to undertake the cultural and leisure activities described above. In particular, they purchase goods and services—such as music CDs and sporting equipment—that enable them to procure and enjoy the benefits of cultural and leisure activity. Governments also spend money on achieving their culture and leisure objectives. For example, governments subsidise art galleries and museums to make them more widely accessible to the public. Expenditures such as these sustain the businesses of the culture and leisure sector.
The classifications of the ACLC focus on this economic side of culture and leisure activities; that is, the way culture and leisure activities are linked to the economy through direct expenditure and employment. The ACLC does this through three classifications: the Industry Classification, the Product Classification, and the Occupation Classification. The Industry Classification defines the business units which either directly produce or provide cultural and leisure goods and services for the use of the end consumer, or otherwise enable people to make use of these goods and services. The Product Classification defines cultural and leisure goods and services. The Occupation Classification lists occupations considered to be part of the culture and leisure sector. These occupations may be undertaken on a paid or unpaid basis.