1136.0 - A Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2009  
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Family and Community Statistics Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra
Telephone (02) 6252 7880


The 2006 General Social Survey (GSS), last conducted between March and July 2006, brings together a wide range of information about the personal and household characteristics for people aged 18 years or over. It was designed to provide reliable estimates at the national level and for each state and territory, to enable analysis of the interrelationships in social circumstances and outcomes; including the exploration of multiple advantage and disadvantage experienced by an individual. The focus is on the relationships between characteristics from different areas, rather than in depth information about a particular field.

Topics include health, housing, education, work, income, financial stress, broad assets and liabilities, information technology, transport, social capital, voluntary work, family and community, recreation and leisure, and crime. The GSS provides an overview through summary tables for different population groups and selected themes, more detailed cross classified tables are also available for selected themes.


The GSS was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, except for very remote parts of Australia. This exclusion is unlikely to impact on national estimates, and will only have a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except the Northern Territory where the excluded population accounts for over 20% of persons.

Only people who were aged 18 years and over, and usual residents of private dwellings in Australia, were covered by the survey. Private dwellings are houses, flats, home units and any other structures used as private places of residence at the time of the survey. People usually resident in non-private dwellings such as hotels, motels, hostels, hospitals and short-stay caravan parks were not included in the survey.

The following non-residents were excluded from resident population estimates used to benchmark the survey results, and were not interviewed:
  • diplomatic personnel of overseas governments
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia
  • persons whose usual place of residence was outside Australia.

Reference Period

March to July 2006.

Frequency of Collection

It is planned to repeat the survey at regular intervals (currently four-yearly).

Method of Collection

ABS interviewers conducted personal interviews at selected dwellings during the period March to July 2006. Interviews were conducted using a Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI) questionnaire. CAI involves the use of a notebook computer to record, store, manipulate and transmit the data collected during interviews.

Much of the detail obtained from the GSS was provided by one person aged 18 years or over, randomly selected from each participating household. The random selection of this person was made once basic information had been obtained about all household members. Some financial and housing items collected in the GSS required the selected person to answer on behalf of other members of the household. In some cases, particularly where household information was not known by the selected person, a spokesperson for the household was nominated to provide household information.


Release Schedule

The summary results from the 2006 GSS were published in May 2007, while state summaries and the Voluntary Work publication were released in July 2007.


General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.0)
General Social Survey, New South Wales - 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.1.55.001)
General Social Survey, Victoria - 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.2.55.001)
General Social Survey, Queensland - 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.3.55.001)
General Social Survey, South Australia - 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.4.55.001)
General Social Survey, Western Australia - 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.5.55.001)
General Social Survey, Tasmania - 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.6.55.001)
General Social Survey, Northern Territory - 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.7.55.001)
General Social Survey, Australian Capital Territory - 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.8.55.001)
General Social Survey: User Guide, 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.0.55.002)

Detailed results from the Voluntary Work supplementary topic included in the GSS were released separately in the publication Voluntary Work, Australia (ABS cat. no. 4441.0).


Australia, states and territories, capital city/balance of state and remoteness areas.

Data Service

General Social Survey: Basic Confidentialised Unit Record File, 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.0.30.001)
General Social Survey: Expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File, 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.0.30.002)

Special tabulations of GSS data are available on request, as a charged service.


A full list of the data items from the 2006 GSS, as a data cube in Excel format, is found under the 'Downloads' tab of the electronic publication General Social Survey: User Guide.

Marital status
Family composition
State or territory of usual residence
Index of relative socio-economic disadvantage
Country of Birth
Year of arrival
Main language other than English spoken at home
Proficiency in English

Highest educational attainment
Main field of highest educational attainment
Highest year of school completed
Level of highest non-school qualification
Full-time/part-time current study
Type of educational institution of current study
Reasons did not study although wanted to
Main reason did not study although wanted to
Reasons did not do training although wanted to
Main reason did not do training although wanted to

Historical Data

The 2006 GSS is the second survey in the series, with the first GSS conducted in 2002.

Each cycle of the GSS collects comparable information for core dimensions to allow for analysis of changes over time. A flexible component is also included to collect additional information on emerging or important topics of social concern. The flexible component of the 2006 GSS included topics relating to social capital, voluntary work and category of visa held by Australian immigrants.

While the scope, survey design, content, data collection and weighting procedures were largely the same in both collections, there were some differences in the flexible component of the GSS. The flexible component of the 2006 GSS included more detailed indicators of family and community involvement (i.e. indicators of social network structure, types, qualities and transactions including those related to voluntary work) which, along with closely related items from the 2002 GSS, is sometimes referred to as the 'social capital' component of the survey. The flexible component also included items related to topics of residential mobility, visa category, access to service providers and reasons for not undertaking study or training.