4177.0 - Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation, Australia, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/12/2012   
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The statistics presented in this release were compiled from data collected in the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) 2011–12 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS). The MPHS is conducted each financial year throughout Australia from July to June as a supplement to the ABS' monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and is designed to provide annual statistics for a number of small, self-contained topics.

In 2011–12 the topics were:

General demographic information such as age, sex, labour force characteristics, education and income was also collected.

This publication covers the Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation topic and presents details about the number and characteristics of people aged 15 years and over who participated in a range of sports and physical recreational activities.

Time series data, comparing estimates from the 2005–06, 2009–10 and 2011–12 surveys are also provided. The 2013–14 MPHS will again include a topic on sport and physical recreation with data expected to be available in late 2014.


The scope of the LFS is restricted to people aged 15 years and over and excludes the following:
  • members of the permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from census and estimated resident populations
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependents).

In addition, the 2011–12 MPHS excluded the following from its scope:
  • people living in Indigenous Communities in very remote parts of Australia
  • people living in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, inmates of prisons and residents of other institutions (e.g. retirement homes, homes for persons with disabilities, women's shelters).

8 The 2011–12 iteration is the first MPHS to include households in very remote parts of Australia. This inclusion has minimal impact on Australian level estimates.


The coverage of the 2011–12 MPHS was the same as the scope, except that people living in Indigenous Communities in non-very remote areas were not enumerated for operational reasons.

In the LFS, rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling and hence has only one chance of selection in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more details.


The MPHS was conducted as a supplement to the monthly LFS. Each month, one eighth of the dwellings in the LFS sample were rotated out of the survey. All of these dwellings were then selected for the MPHS. In these dwellings, after the LFS had been fully completed for each person in scope and coverage, a person aged 15 years or over was selected at random (based on a computer algorithm) and asked the various MPHS topic questions in a personal interview. If the randomly selected person was aged 15–17 years, permission was sought from a parent or guardian before conducting the interview. If permission was not given, the parent or guardian was asked the questions on behalf of the 15–17 year old. Data was collected using Computer Assisted Interviewing, whereby responses were recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer, usually during a telephone interview.

For the 2011–12 MPHS, the sample was accumulated over a twelve month period from July 2011 to June 2012.

The publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the monthly LFS, which also applies to supplementary surveys. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing relevant to both the monthly LFS and the MPHS.


The sample size varies for different topics in the MPHS. The initial sample for the Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation topic was 20,126 private dwellings, from each of which one person was randomly selected. Of the 17,036 private dwellings that remained in the survey after sample loss (for example, dwellings selected in the survey which had no residents in scope for the LFS, vacant or derelict dwellings and dwellings under construction), 13,630 or 80% fully responded to the questions on participation in sport and physical recreation.



Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total in-scope population. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each covered sample unit. The weight is a value which indicates how many population units are represented by the sample unit. The first step in calculating weights for each unit is to assign an initial weight, which is the inverse of the probability of being selected in the survey. For example, if the probability of a person being selected in the survey was 1 in 600, then the person would have an initial weight of 600 (i.e. they represent 600 people).


The initial weights were then calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population of interest, referred to as 'benchmarks', in designated categories of sex by age by area of usual residence. Weights calibrated against population benchmarks ensure that the survey estimates conform to the independently estimated distribution of the population rather than the distribution within the sample itself. Calibration to population benchmarks helps to compensate for over or under-enumeration of particular categories of persons/households which may occur due to either the random nature of sampling or non-response.

For person estimates, the MPHS was benchmarked to the projected population in each state and territory, at 31 March 2012. The MPHS estimates do not (and are not intended to) match estimates for the total Australian population obtained from other sources.


Survey estimates of counts of persons are obtained by summing the weights of persons with the characteristic of interest. Estimates of non-person counts (e.g. number of times participated in sport and physical recreation) are obtained by multiplying the characteristic of interest with the weight of the reporting person and then aggregating them.


All sample surveys are subject to error which can be broadly categorised as either:
  • sampling error
  • non-sampling error

Sampling Error

Sampling error is the difference between the published estimates, derived from a sample of persons, and the value that would have been produced if the total population (as defined for the scope of the survey) had been included in the survey. For more information refer to the Technical Note.

Non-sampling Error

Non-sampling error may occur in any collection, whether it is based on a sample or a full count such as a census. Sources of non-sampling error include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording of answers by interviewers and errors in coding and processing data. Every effort is made to reduce non-sampling error by careful design and testing of questionnaires, training and supervision of interviewers, and extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing.


22 Information recorded in this survey is essentially 'as reported' by respondents and hence may differ from that which might be obtained from other sources or via other methodologies. This factor should be considered when interpreting the estimates in this publication.


This publication presents details of persons who participated in a sport or physical recreational activity as a participant at least once during the 12 months prior to interview in 2011–12. The term 'participant' is defined as a player, competitor or person who takes part in some other physically active role. Information on involvement by people who participated solely as coaches, umpires or club officials are excluded from these data.

Information on the frequency of participation was collected by asking respondents how many times they participated during the year, for each activity in which they participated.

No information was collected regarding the intensity in which the sport or physical activity was undertaken. For example, a cycling participant may have undertaken this activity at a leisurely pace or vigorously.

Activities such as gardening, housework, manual labouring and other forms of occupational physical activity were excluded from the data.

Gross household income in the 2011–12 MPHS is derived by summing the personal weekly income of the respondent and the total weekly income of all other persons in the household (as reported by the respondent). Where a person either refused or did not know either their personal income or the remainder of the household's total income, the gross weekly income for the household was classified as 'Income not known or not stated'. For the survey, gross household income that was not known or not stated comprised 21% of the 13,630 sample.


The ABS has previously collected data on participation in sport and physical recreation in various surveys from 1993 to 2000 using the Population Survey Monitor, in 2002, 2006 and 2010 using the General Social Survey, in 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 using the Involvement in Organised Sport and Physical Activity survey, and in 2005–06 and 2009–10 using the MPHS. Comparisons can only be made with the 2005–06 and 2009–10 surveys because of methodological differences with the other surveys.

Comparability with the 2005–06 and 2009–10 Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation Survey

While the 2011–12 Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation Survey is generally comparable with the 2005–06 and 2009–10 iterations, there are some differences. The 2005–06 survey provided information on the motivators and constraints of non-participants and low level participants. This information was replaced in 2009–10 and 2011–12 with questions on types of facilities used for sport and physical activities. However, the types of facilities that were asked about in 2011–12 differ to the facilities covered in 2009–10, and therefore these estimates are not comparable.

Care should be taken when comparing data for the Northern Territory (NT) across the 2005–06, 2009–10 and 2011–12 surveys, as sample sizes limit the reliability of the estimates particularly at a detailed level.

31 There have been changes to the definition of several sports and physical recreation activities. Estimates for Dancing/Ballet and Gymnastics should not be compared to previous surveys. The following sports and physical recreation activities are separately identified in the 2011–12 survey: Aerobics; Fitness/Gym; Football sports; Scuba diving/Snorkelling; and Weightlifting/Bodybuilding. These activities should not be compared with previous surveys. For further information, see the Glossary.

32 A significant change has been made to the Area of usual residence data item as shown in this release. In the 2005–06 and 2009–10 Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation publications, Area of usual residence was classified as State capital cities and Balance of state/territory. The Balance of state/territory category comprised people usually resident in areas outside of the six state capital city Statistical Divisions (as defined in the Australian Standard Geographical Classification, ASGC (cat. no. 1216.0)), including all residents of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. For 2011–12, the State capital cities category has been changed to Capital city and now includes all of the ACT and the Darwin Statistical Division, while the Balance of state/territory category now comprises people usually resident in areas outside of the eight capital city Statistical Divisions, excluding all residents in the ACT. In Table 14 of this release, the new definitions of Capital city and Balance of state/territory have been applied to the data for 2005-06 and 2009-10, so that these estimates are comparable to 2011-12.

Comparability with Monthly LFS Statistics

Due to differences in the scope and sample size of the MPHS and that of the LFS, the estimation procedure may lead to some small variations between labour force estimates from this survey and those obtained from the LFS.


34 Country of birth data are classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (Second Edition) (SACC), 2008 (cat. no. 1269.0).

35 Area of usual residence is classified according to the Statistical Geography: Volume 1 – Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2006 (cat. no. 1216.0).

36 Educational attainment data are classified according to the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

37 Occupation data are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), 2006 (cat. no. 1220.0).

38 Industry of occupation data are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).



All tables, in Excel spreadsheet format, can be accessed from the Downloads tab. The spreadsheets present tables of estimates and percentages, and their corresponding relative standard errors.

Microdata Record File

40 In addition to the data available in the Excel spreadsheets, Survey TableBuilder (STB) will allow other tables to be produced. STB is an online tool for creating tables and graphs from survey data. STB for the 2011–12 Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation topic is expected to be available in early 2013. General information about this product, including cost, can be found on the About Survey TableBuilder page on the ABS website.

41 An Expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) containing detailed data for individual records will also be available following the release of this publication. The CURF is expected to be available in late February 2013.

Data Available on Request

42 In addition to the statistics provided in this publication, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tabulations can be produced from the survey on a fee-for-service basis. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070. A spreadsheet containing a complete list of the data items available from the Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation Survey can be accessed from the Downloads tab.


ABS surveys draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated. Without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


44 A wide range of information about sport and physical recreation statistics can be found on the ABS Sport and Physical Recreation Topics @ a Glance web page. This page includes information on current and upcoming projects, links to recent sport and physical recreation publications and resources, and information about current issues in the sport and physical recreation sector.

45 The Related Information tab associated with this release contains links to a selected range of ABS sport and physical recreation publications.