1136.0 - A Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/03/2009   
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Special Social Surveys Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra
Telephone (02) 6252 6745


Mental Health is one of Australia's National Health Priority Areas and funding for this survey is provided by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Information from the survey contributes to research in the field of mental health and assists in the formulation of government policies and legislation.The National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (SMHWB) collects information on selected mental disorders; the use of health services and medication for mental health problems; physical conditions; disability; social networks and caregiving; demographics; and the socio-economic characteristics of respondents.


The scope of the survey is people aged 16-85 years, who were usual residents of private dwellings in Australia, excluding very remote areas. 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, nursing homes, and short-stay caravan parks were not in scope. Also included are members of the Australian permanent defence forces and overseas visitors who have been working or studying in Australia for the 12 months or more prior to the survey interview, or intended to do so.

Scope exclusions:

  • Non-Australian diplomats, non-Australian diplomatic staff and non-Australian members of their household;
  • Members of non-Australian defence forces stationed in Australia and their dependents; and
  • Overseas visitors

Reference Period

The most recent SMHWB was conducted from August to December 2007, whereas the previous SMHWB was conducted from May to August 1997.

Frequency of Collection

This is an irregular survey.

Method of Collection

On the first face-to-face contact with the household by an interviewer, general characteristics of the household were obtained from one person in the household aged 18 years or over (the household spokesperson). This information included basic demographic characteristics of all usual residents of the dwelling (eg age and sex) and the relationships between household members (eg spouse, son, daughter, not related), as well as some financial and housing items, such as income and tenure, on behalf of other household members. From the information provided by the household spokesperson, the survey instrument identified those persons in scope of the survey and randomly selected one person aged 16–85 years to be included in the survey. A personal interview was conducted with this randomly selected person. The SMHWB is a voluntary survey.


Release Schedule

The most recent SMHWB was published on 23 October 2008, whereas the previous SMHWB was published on 12 March 1998.


National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007 (cat. no. 4326.0)
National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Users' Guide, 2007 (cat. no. 4327.0)
Technical Manual: National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Confidentialised Unit Record Files (cat. no. 4329.0)


The 2007 SMHWB was designed to provide reliable estimates at the national level. However a range of other geographic characteristics may be available, including state/territory, remoteness areas, section of state, and part of state. Users should exercise caution when using estimates at finer levels of disaggregation due to high sampling errors.

Data Service

Special tabulations are available on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tabulations can be produced from the survey to meet individual requirements. These can be provided in electronic or printed form.


Relationship in the household
Family composition
Marital status
Country of birth
Year of arrival
Sexual orientation
Ever been homeless

Whether studying full-time (15-24 years)
Highest year of school completed
Level of highest non-school qualification
Main field of highest non-school qualification
Year non-school qualification completed
Level of highest educational attainment
Main field of highest educational attainment

Historical Data

This is the second mental health and wellbeing survey, the previous survey was conducted in 1997. Due to differences in how the data were collected, data from 1997 are not strictly comparable with the results from 2007. For more detailed comparisons between the two surveys see Chapter 10 in the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Users' Guide (cat. no. 4327.0).