User research and testing

The ABS conducts voluntary research with members of the public to improve the design and content of our materials and communication

Purposes of collecting your personal information

The ABS conducts voluntary research with members of the public to improve the design and content of our survey and census materials, products, dissemination channels and general communication. This includes usability tests, in-depth interviews, and focus groups.

Participants for our research may be recruited through a number of channels including:

  • Commercial research organisations that you have chosen to sign up with for research purposes.
  • Direct advertising by the ABS for research participants through online channels, by print media, public noticeboards and in person. 
  • Community networks and organisations who may advise you of the opportunity to be involved in research. 
  • The ABS requesting a follow-up discussion with you in relation to an ABS survey that you participated in.

During the participant recruitment process, the ABS will collect personal information in accordance with the requirements of the Privacy Act 1988. We collect your personal information to:

  • assist with screening activities to select participants meeting our user testing criteria
  • contact you about your participation in our research

When you express interest in user research conducted by the ABS, or if you are selected for participation, we will explain to you the purpose and procedures of the specific research activity and seek your consent to be involved in that activity. You may withdraw your consent to participate in the ABS’ user research activities at any time. If you withdraw your consent to participate, you will not be asked to have any further involvement in the research activity and information related to your participation will be deleted in accordance with relevant legislative requirements. 

What personal information is collected?

To facilitate this research and during the testing sessions, we may collect personal information including, but not limited to:

  • contact details (e.g., name, your personal or direct work phone number or email address)
  • demographics and personal characteristics (e.g., age, sex, gender, location, income, marital status, occupation, education level)
  • information about your business (e.g. sole traders) 
  • video recordings and/or audio recordings of you during the test (with your consent)
  • written transcripts of feedback provided during testing or research sessions.

We may also collect sensitive information, as defined by the Privacy Act 1988, where relevant to the material being tested. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • racial or ethnic information
  • health and disability information
  • religious beliefs and affiliations

The ABS will either:

  • collect your personal information directly from you, or 
  • receive your personal information from a commercial research or other organisation if you’ve registered with them or otherwise notified them of your willingness to participate in user research.

How will your personal information be used?

We comply with the Privacy Act 1988 and the Archives Act 1983 in the storage, use and destruction of your personal information collected.  

Your personal information is only used for research purposes, to facilitate appointment making arrangement and on occasion to train ABS staff in conducting this kind of research. Recorded sessions and notes scribed by ABS staff members present in the user testing session will be restricted to relevant ABS staff members and referenced in a de-identified manner in any research reports. 

The ABS deletes names and contact details from other information as soon as possible and these are stored securely and separately from each other. This means ABS staff members cannot view your name or contact details with your other responses (e.g. age, sex, occupation, level of education or income). Recordings used for training have identifying information such as names removed. De-identified information will be stored in the ABS’ secure environment for record keeping purposes and destroyed in accordance with relevant legislative requirements.

Any information collected using third-party platforms (e.g. Microsoft Forms, and video recordings of the user testing sessions using Microsoft Teams) will be copied to a secure ABS environment and deleted from third-party platforms as soon as possible following the test sessions. 

Who will your personal information be shared with? Does anyone else have access to your personal information?

We use third-party providers, such as technology services providers (e.g. Microsoft) to help us with our business activities. These third-party providers are legally bound to meet privacy standards and our expectations. They will also have their own privacy policies, processes and security protections which we review to ensure their approach to privacy reflects our own.

The ABS will not share your personal information: 

  • in a way that would identify you  
  • with private organisations, such as direct marketing companies 
  • with other government agencies for compliance or regulation activities, or for any other purpose. 

Your personal information is not disclosed overseas.

How to contact us about privacy

The ABS Privacy Policy for Statistical Information and the ABS Privacy Policy for Managing and Operating our Business provides more information including:

  • how you can access, correct or update your personal information, or 
  • how to make a complaint if you feel we have not adequately protected your privacy. 


Post: ABS Privacy Officer
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Locked Bag 10, Belconnen ACT 2617

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