4921.0 - Participation in Selected Cultural Activities, Australia, 2017-18 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/03/2019   
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1 This publication contains results from the Cultural Participation Survey, a topic on the Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS) conducted throughout Australia from July 2017 to June 2018. The MPHS, undertaken each financial year by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), is a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and is designed to collect statistics for a number of small, self-contained topics. In 2017-18, the topics were:

    • Patient Experience
    • Cultural Attendance
    • Cultural Participation
    • Crime Victimisation.

2 This publication covers the Cultural Participation topic (also referred to as the Cultural Participation Survey) and presents details about participants in selected cultural activities including performing arts, singing or playing a musical instrument, dancing, writing, visual art activities and craft activities. This publication also presents information about the characteristics of participants, the number of selected cultural activities in which people participated and whether participants volunteered or received income as part of their participation. Data for this topic has previously been collected on the MPHS in 2013–14. Information on labour force characteristics, education, income and other demographics were also collected. For the first time, the Cultural Participation Survey 2017-18 also collected participation data for children aged 5-14 years.


3 For the first time, the scope of the 2017-18 Cultural Participation Survey included both children aged 5-14 years and people aged 15 years and over who were usual residents of private dwellings and excludes:
    • members of the Australian permanent defence forces
    • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments customarily excluded from Census and estimated resident population counts
    • overseas residents in Australia
    • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia
    • persons living in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, boarding schools, hospitals, nursing homes, homes for people with disabilities, and prisons
    • persons resident in the Indigenous Community Strata (ICS)
    • children residing with parents or guardians who were all out of scope.

4 The scope for MPHS included households residing in urban, rural, remote and very remote parts of Australia, except the ICS.

5 In the LFS, rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person in coverage 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 detail.


Each month, one eighth of the dwellings in the LFS sample were rotated out of the survey. These dwellings were selected for the MPHS. In these dwellings, after the LFS had been fully completed for each person in scope and coverage, a usual resident aged 15 years or over was selected at random (based on a computer algorithm) and asked the additional MPHS questions in a personal interview. The publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey and sample design, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the monthly LFS, and consequently the MPHS. This publication also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing.

7 In the MPHS, if the randomly selected person was aged 15 to 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 to 17 year old (proxy interview).

8 If the randomly selected person was aged 18 years or over, they were asked additional questions to determine whether they were a parent or guardian for any children aged 5-14 years who were usual residents of the household. If the respondent was a parent or guardian, they were asked questions about cultural participation for up to two of their children aged 5-14 years. Children in scope were randomly selected based on a computer algorithm at the time of interview.

9 Data were collected using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI), whereby responses were recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer, with interviews conducted either face-to-face or over the telephone. The majority of interviews were conducted over the telephone.


After taking into account sample loss, the response rate for the Cultural Participation Survey was 71.1%. In total, information was collected from 28,243 fully responding persons. This includes 464 proxy interviews for people aged 15 to 17 years, where permission was not given by a parent or guardian for a personal interview, and 7,225 children aged 5-14 years whose parent or guardian was randomly selected to completed the MPHS.



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 enumerated person. The weight is a value which indicates the number of persons in the population represented by the sample person.

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 (that is, they represent 600 people).


13 The initial weights are calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population of interest, referred to as 'benchmarks'. 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.

The survey was benchmarked to the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) living in private dwellings in each state and territory at December 2017, excluding people living in Indigenous communities. These benchmarks are based on the 2016 Census.


Survey estimates of counts of persons are obtained by summing the weights of persons with the characteristic of interest.


16 To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values. This technique is called perturbation. Perturbation involves a small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics. After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, adding up cell values to derive a total will not necessarily give the same result as published totals. The introduction of perturbation in publications ensures that these statistics are consistent with statistics released via services such as TableBuilder.


All sample surveys are subject to error which can be broadly categorised as either sampling error or non-sampling error. For more information refer to the Technical Note.

18 Sampling error is the difference between the published estimate, derived from a sample of dwellings, and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings in scope of the survey had been included.

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


20 Information recorded in this survey is 'as reported' by respondents, and 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.

21 A small proportion of respondents were resident in areas with no Socio-economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) scores allocated. For the purposes of the Cultural Participation Survey, these records have had a SEIFA decile imputed, based on the deciles of the surrounding areas. For information on SEIFA, see the Socio-economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) section below.


Comparability of Time Series

22 The ABS has previously collected data on cultural participation in various surveys. The Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities Survey was conducted as part of the Monthly Population Survey in 1993, 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2007, and as part of the Population Survey Monitor in 1998–99, and the Participation in Selected Cultural Activities survey was conducted as part of the 2010–11 MPHS. For the 2010–11 survey, respondents who reported participating in more than three cultural activities in the 12 months before interview were asked to nominate the three activities they participated in the most. These respondents were then asked questions about each of these three activities, such as whether payment was received, the type of payment received and reasons for participation. For the 2013–14 survey, respondents were only asked additional questions for the cultural activity they participated in the most. In the 2017-18 survey, respondents were asked about the frequency of their participation, whether they received income from, or volunteered in each activity in scope.

23 While the ABS seeks to maximise consistency and comparability over time by minimising changes to surveys, ongoing development is required to maintain and improve the integrity of the data. Key differences between 2017-18 and 2013-14 data are listed below.

24 The following content was collected in 2017-18 and not in 2013-14:
  • Children's participation in drama activities
  • Children's participation in singing or playing a musical instrument
  • Children's participation in dancing
  • Children's participation in art and craft activities
  • Children's participation in creative writing
  • Children's participation in screen based activities
  • Children's participation in reading for pleasure.

25 The following content was changed in 2017-18 and cannot be compared to related 2013-14 data:
  • Participation in a drama, comedy, musical or variety act
  • Participation in visual art activities
  • Participation in craft activities.

26 In 2017-18, the Cultural Participation Survey included children aged 5-14 years for the first time, and thus no time series data is available for this content. Caution should be taken when comparing across ABS surveys as estimates may differ from those obtained from other surveys (such as the Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities Survey) due to differences in survey mode, methodology and questionnaire design.

Comparability to monthly LFS Statistics

27 Since the Cultural Participation Survey is conducted as a supplement to the LFS, data items collected in the LFS are also available in this publication. However, there are some important differences between the two surveys. The LFS had a response rate of over 90% compared to the MPHS response rate of 71.1%. The scope of the Cultural Participation Survey and the LFS (refer to the Scope and Coverage section above) also differ. Due to the differences between the samples, data from the Cultural Participation Survey and the LFS are weighted separately. Differences may therefore be found in the estimates for those data items collected in the LFS and published as part of the Cultural Participation Survey.



28 Australian geographic data are classified according to the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, July 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.001). Remoteness areas are classified according to the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.005).

Country of birth

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


Industry data are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (Revision 2.0) (cat. no. 1292.0).


Occupation data are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classifications of Occupations, 2013, Version 1.2 (cat. no. 1220.0).


Education data are classified according to the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0). The ASCED is a national standard classification which can be applied to all sectors of the Australian education system including schools, vocational education and training and higher education. The ASCED comprises two classifications: Level of Education and Field of Education.

Socio-economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)

The 2017–18 survey uses the 2011 Socio-economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA).

34 SEIFA is a suite of four summary measures that have been created from 2011 Census information. Each index summarises a different aspect of the socio-economic conditions of people living in an area. The indexes provide more general measures of socio-economic status than is given by measures such as income or unemployment alone.

For each index, every geographic area in Australia is given a SEIFA number which shows how disadvantaged that area is compared with other areas in Australia.

The index used in the Cultural Participation publication is the Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage, derived from Census variables related to disadvantage such as low income, low educational attainment, unemployment, jobs in relatively unskilled occupations and dwellings without motor vehicles.

SEIFA uses a broad definition of relative socio-economic disadvantage in terms of people's access to material and social resources, and their ability to participate in society. While SEIFA represents an average of all people living in an area, it does not represent the individual situation of each person. Larger areas are more likely to have greater diversity of people and households.

For more detail, see the following:


39 Data Cubes containing all tables for this publication in Excel spreadsheet format are available from the Downloads tab. The spreadsheets present tables of estimates and proportions, and their corresponding relative standard errors (RSEs). Survey microdata from the Cultural Participation topic will be released through the TableBuilder product. For more details, please refer to the TableBuilder information, Cultural Activities, Australia (cat. no. 4921.0.55.001).

40 Special tabulations of the data are available on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tabulations can be produced from the survey incorporating data items, populations and geographic areas (including state and territory level data), tailored to individual requirements. These are provided in electronic form. A list of data items from the 2017-18 Cultural Participation Survey is available from the Downloads tab. All enquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070, or email client.services@abs.gov.au.

41 For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070, or email client.services@abs.gov.au. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.


The ABS is conducting the MPHS again during the 2018-19 financial year. The 2018-19 MPHS topics are:
    • Qualifications and Work
    • Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation
    • Retirement and Retirement Intentions
    • Patient Experience
    • Crime Victimisation.

43 The next Cultural Participation Survey is scheduled to occur in 2021-22.


ABS surveys draw extensively on information provided by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated and 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.


Refer to the Related Information tab for other ABS publications which may be of interest.

46 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily upcoming release advice on the website that details products to be released in the week ahead.