4902.0 - Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications, 2001  
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Contents >> Chapter 1. Introduction


There is a growing awareness of the importance of culture and leisure to a society's development and progress. The culture and leisure sector contributes to Australia's economy through the employment opportunities it provides, the output it produces and the income it generates. There are also significant health and social benefits from the production and consumption of culture and leisure goods and services. These include, for example, the health benefits from participating in sports and other physical activities, as well as the social benefits of cohesion, security and belonging which are believed to result from involvement in activities which encourage group and team participation (such as playing organised sport or membership of an interest group). Further, involvement in cultural and artistic activities as a participant or consumer provides opportunities for intellectual and spiritual engagement and for relaxation. Culture and leisure activities are also important means of expressing Australia's cultural diversity.

Currently a range of data on culture and leisure exists in Australia. Generally, these data are sourced from surveys conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) or from surveys and administrative compilations from other bodies, such as industry organisations, industry associations, educational institutions and market research companies. Information provided by data collections includes:

  • people's participation in sport, cultural or leisure activities;
  • people's attendance at sporting or cultural events and venues;
  • the amount of time people spend on cultural and leisure activities;
  • household expenditure on culture and leisure goods and services;
  • employment in organisations providing culture and leisure opportunities to people;
  • the extent to which voluntary work supports the provision of culture and leisure opportunities to people;
  • income and expenditure of organisations providing culture and leisure goods and services to people; and
  • the extent to which cultural and leisure activities are funded by governments and by businesses through donations or sponsorships.

Ideally, data from all sources would be comparable or complementary. However, this is often not the case as the underlying definitions and concepts used differ between sources. What has been missing has been the means, such as a common framework or structure, of drawing the various sources of information together.

The ABS, in its role as Australia's official statistical agency, seeks to coordinate statistical activities in Australia in order to promote a more unified body of statistical information and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort. With respect to culture and leisure, this task is principally carried out by the National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics (NCCRS), which was formed by the ABS in 1991. One way of improving coordination and comparability between the various existing data collections is to encourage the use of a common set of classifications, which should in turn enable better decision making. The Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications (ACLC) are a first step towards achieving that outcome.

Through the 1990s government policies tended to focus mainly on economic aspects of culture and leisure, and related frameworks for statistics which were developed at the time reflected this focus. Requests by the Cultural Ministers Council and the Sport and Recreation Ministers' Council for the ABS to review these frameworks led to the development of the three classifications described in this publication. These classifications are intended for use in the collection and dissemination of statistics about culture and leisure-related components of Australia's economy and workforce.

This publication does not purport to cover all the classifications of relevance to culture and leisure. There are a range of other classifications that are also important in this field of statistics. For example, the ABS classification of expenditure items, used in the Household Expenditure Survey (ABS 2000a), is an example of another economic classification; it includes expenditure on culture and leisure goods and services. The 1997 time use activity classification (ABS 1997b) includes time spent on culture and leisure activities (see Appendix 1). In addition, collections in the culture and leisure area have adopted various classifications and lists in the production of outputs including types of sports and physical activities people participate in, selected cultural venues people visit, and type of sporting involvement (such as player or participant, coach, referee, committee member, etc.).

What is culture and leisure?

In order to collect information and present statistics on any topic, the subject area must be defined in such a way that what is included is clear. The concept of 'culture and leisure' has been the subject of considerable debate within Australia and internationally over the years. In its broadest sense, 'culture' is a term used to describe learned ways of life or a shared sense of quality of life. 'Leisure' denotes activities undertaken by a person for enjoyment, refreshment, relaxation or diversion. There are connections and overlaps between 'culture' and 'leisure'. In particular, many activities concerned with the expression, maintenance and preservation of culture are often associated with leisure activities. The numerous complexities inherent in these terms are described in greater detail in the ABS publication Measuring Social Wellbeing (ABS forthcoming).

Over the years, analysts and policymakers working with this field of statistics have tended to develop practical 'activity-based' definitions of culture and leisure. The ACLC classifications are based on such an approach; that is, culture and leisure activities are considered to be those undertaken for the purpose of:
  • enjoyment, relaxation, diversion or recreation;
  • artistic expression (e.g. visual, musical, written, kinaesthetic or dramatic);
  • using, practising or developing sporting skills;
  • generating, developing, preserving or reflecting cultural or spiritual meaning; and
  • facilitating any of the above.

There is a close but not exact correspondence between these activities and the free time activities included in the ABS time use activity classification. In this classification, the 24 hours of a day are allocated to four different kinds of activities: necessary time (e.g. sleeping, eating, personal care), contracted time (paid work and regular education), committed time (e.g. housework, child care, shopping) and free time, which includes all other activities. Free time is discretionary time, which is free of obligation or duty, where individuals can choose the way in which their time is spent and the type of activities they will pursue. While the time use classification is not part of this suite of ACLC classifications (having as it does its own conceptual basis), it is a particularly significant one in the culture and leisure area. Therefore differences between the scope of the ACLC and the free time component of the time use activity classification are described in the 'scope and boundary issues' section of this chapter.

The focus of the classifications

People often spend money in order to undertake the culture and leisure activities described above. In particular, they purchase goods and services -- such as music CDs and sporting equipment -- that enable them to procure and enjoy the benefits of culture and leisure activity. Governments, too, spend money on achieving their culture and leisure objectives, for example, by making culture widely available to the public through subsidised art galleries and museums. Expenditures such as these sustain the businesses of the culture and leisure sector.

The classifications of the ACLC focus on this economic side of culture and leisure activities -- that is, the way culture and leisure activities are linked to the economy through direct expenditure and employment. The ACLC does this through three classifications: the Industry Classification, the Product classification, and the Occupation Classification. The Industry Classification defines the business units which either directly produce or provide culture and leisure goods and services for the use of the end consumer, or otherwise enable people to make use of these goods and services. The Product Classification defines culture and leisure goods and services. The Occupation Classification lists occupations which can be considered to be part of the culture and leisure sector. These occupations may be undertaken on a paid or unpaid basis.


Development of the ACLC drew on experiences with earlier classifications applied to culture and leisure economic statistics in Australia. Following publication of the UNESCO Framework for Cultural Statistics (UNESCO 1986), the Cultural Ministers Council Statistical Advisory Group (now the Cultural Ministers Council Statistics Working Group or CMC SWG) published the National Culture-Leisure Industry Statistical Framework (Statistical Advisory Group of the Cultural Ministers Council 1989). Designed to meet the requirements of Australian culture and leisure policy makers, four editions of this classification were produced, with the last one published in 1991. While it provided substantial detail about components of the culture and leisure sector and although NCCRS used it as a key guide to output needs over the years, this classification did not relate well to the standard industry classification, the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) and was not adopted widely across the sector; thus, data collections continued to have limited comparability.

While the National Culture-Leisure Industry Statistical Framework made provision to include sport and recreation, they were not covered to the level of detail required by the sport and recreation sector. To overcome this problem, the Sport and Recreation Ministers' Council (SRMC), in consultation with industry groups, developed its own classification -- the National Sport and Recreation Industry Statistical Framework -- in 1995. This classification defined components of the sport and recreation sector in far more detail than had previously been available and again, although used by NCCRS to guide output, was not widely recognised or adopted and was not compatible with ANZSIC.

To allow for greater comparability of statistics and to address concerns that the current nature of culture and leisure industries was not adequately covered by the classifications in existence, including the standard ABS classifications, NCCRS undertook a review of the existing classifications for culture, sport and leisure statistics. Through this review, the ABS determined that it would be fruitful to create a new broad classification for such statistics. In addition, it determined that a single classification covering both culture, and sport and leisure was more appropriate than separate ones given the commonalities and links between the two sectors. Further, it recognised that significant economic activity related to culture and leisure is undertaken by organisations and people outside of the main culture and leisure industries. As a result, a set of three classifications -- industries, products and occupations -- was developed by NCCRS, with the scope of each of these being the culture and the sport and leisure sectors. These three classifications, along with their associated correspondences to the standard ABS classifications, are described in this document.

In developing the ACLC, the ABS consulted widely with industry and government stakeholders and, wherever possible, user requirements were taken into account. Over a three-year period, numerous meetings and a series of seminars were held with industry associations, government bodies and other interested persons. Throughout the project, detailed consultation continued with both the culture and the sport and recreation statistical working groups and their individual members. Additional consultation was also undertaken within the ABS to ensure consistency with classification principles and relevance to other statistical series.


The ACLC consist of three parts: the Industry Classification, the Product Classification and the Occupation Classification.

The ACLC Industry Classification

The Industry Classification lists industries consisting of organisations for which the main activity is the production or provision of culture and leisure goods and services. All types of business entities are included, such as commercial and subsidised organisations, government agencies, nonprofit institutions and associations, individuals undertaking business activities, etc. The ACLC Industry Classification aligns, where possible, with the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC).

The ACLC Industry Classification is structured hierarchically, in a manner similar to many other classifications developed by the ABS. It has three levels of classification: divisions, groups and classes. Each class contains a definition, a list of primary activities and a list of exclusions. There are 4 divisions, 22 groups and 75 classes within the Industry Classification. See Chapter 2 for a detailed description of this classification.

The ACLC Product Classification

The Product Classification consists of a list of culture and leisure goods and services (together known as products). These products are the primary outputs of the industries listed in the ACLC Industry Classification; in addition, they are produced by other industries (for example, museum services may be provided by a business unit in the mining industry). The ACLC Product Classification fits broadly within the framework of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Product Classification (ANZSPC).

The products included in the ACLC Product Classification are grouped into 26 broad groups and 227 classes. See Chapter 3 for a detailed description.

The ACLC Occupation Classification

The Occupation Classification, which is based on the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO), lists occupations which are predominantly 'culture or leisure' in nature. However, those ASCO occupations which contain some culture or leisure specialisations but are not predominantly culture or leisure related have been excluded. For example, art gallery directors are excluded because they are included within a general ASCO occupation, Specialist Managers n.e.c., and the majority of people whose main job was classified to that occupation in the 1996 Census of Population and Housing were working in jobs which are not culture or leisure in nature. Thus, the ACLC Occupation Classification includes most, but not all, culture and leisure jobs. Furthermore, while it allows for classification of 'paid jobs' and 'unpaid work', the ACLC Occupation Classification is not designed to classify participation in personal hobbies or recreation activities.

The ACLC Occupation Classification contains 159 occupation classes. See Chapter 4 for a detailed description.

How do the classifications in the ACLC correspond to existing ABS classifications?

The ABS presents most of its data for industries, products and occupations using existing standard classifications. However, each of these existing standard classifications is designed to cover the entire range of industries, products or occupations in existence, without gaps or overlaps. Users of information for a particular topic, such as culture and leisure, sometimes find that the level of detail provided by the standard classifications is insufficient for their purpose. For instance, ANZSIC provides one class for all performing arts businesses (namely, class 9241 Music and Theatre Productions); in contrast, the ACLC Industry Classification provides five classes, thus allowing for the identification of different types of performing arts.

Correspondences are essential to determine how industries (or products or occupations) coded under one classification relate to industries coded under another classification. Each of the classifications in the ACLC has been developed from the respective standard classifications, as listed below. While every effort has been made to align with the standard classifications, in the ACLC Industry Classification in particular, many classes are not comparable with the standard. If a user wishes to compare data collected under the ACLC with data produced under the standard classifications (or vice versa), it is important to study the correspondence information to determine the degree to which this is possible.

The standard classifications used as bases in the development of the ACLC are listed below:

ACLCStandard ABS classification
Industry ClassificationAustralian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification
(ABS and NZ Department of Statistics, 1993)
Product ClassificationAustralian and New Zealand Standard Product Classification
(ABS and Statistics New Zealand, 2001)
Occupation ClassificationAustralian Standard Classification of Occupations
(ABS, 1997c)

Correspondences between the standard classifications and the ACLC are shown in this publication. The correspondences of the ACLC Industry Classification to ANZSIC, as well as ANZSIC to the ACLC Industry Classification, are included as separate tables in Chapter 2. Similarly, the correspondences of the ACLC Product Classification to ANZSPC, and ANZSPC to the ACLC Product Classification, are included as separate tables in Chapter 3. No correspondences are necessary for the ACLC Occupation Classification because the occupation codes in the ACLC are directly equivalent to the ASCO codes.

Alphabetic indices

For ease of identification, an alphabetic index of the primary activities for all of the classes has been created for the ACLC Industry Classification. For the ACLC Product Classification and the ACLC Occupation Classification, an alphabetic listing has been created that reflects the main product class or occupation name, respectively, together with any alternative names.

The alphabetic lists are as comprehensive as possible but not all-inclusive. Appropriate classes for any classification can be located by checking the alphabetic index for the key word or a similar entry, or by examining the numeric listing.


While every effort has been made to use simple English that is understood by the broader community throughout the ACLC, some terms which are unique, either to a particular discipline or to culture and leisure activities, have been included within the ACLC. Many of these terms have been described within the glossary (which can be found towards the end of this publication).


In determining the scope of the three classifications of the ACLC or, in other words, what should be included in and excluded from each classification, the following questions were debated at length within ABS, with potential users of the classifications and with industry representatives.
  • Which free time activities in the 1997 time use activity classification are not considered to be culture and leisure activities for the purposes of the ACLC?
  • Which activities outside of the ‘free time’ categories in the time use activity classification should be included as culture and leisure activities for the purposes of the ACLC?
  • Which industries, products and occupations are involved in providing people with the opportunities to undertake culture and leisure activities? Which of these should be included in the ACLC and which should not be?
  • How far back along the chain of supply should we go in including industries, products and occupations in the ACLC?

The following paragraphs illustrate some of the considerations of each of these questions. It is quite likely that publication and use of these classifications will lead to further debate about the boundaries or exhaustiveness of the classifications. It is also possible that readers with some particular industry, product or occupation in mind will still not be clear as to whether it is included or excluded from the classifications, or where it belongs. Information on where to direct such comments or queries is included at the end of this chapter.

Which ‘free time’ activities are excluded?

ABS decided to exclude those ‘free time’ activities which would mostly not be freely chosen by the participants, or where people undertaking the activities would not be doing so for culture or leisure purposes. For example, religious activities are considered to be an important part of Australia’s cultural life, and thus the Industry, Product and Occupation Classifications of the ACLC include classes covering the provision of opportunities to undertake religious activities. However, funeral directors and civil marriage celebrants, and their services, have been excluded from the classifications because the main work undertaken by the related businesses and the services performed, such as completion and lodgement of legal documents and managing the disposal of remains, were not considered to be cultural, for the purposes of the ACLC; furthermore, attending wedding ceremonies and funerals are activities which are not necessarily freely chosen.

In addition, attendance at a range of courses conducted by organisations other than schools and universities takes place during free time. However, these courses are often aimed at purposes other than culture and leisure. Examples include driving lessons, car and home maintenance courses and vocational skills training. Thus, although teaching of arts, crafts, sports or physical recreation skills are in scope of the Product Classification, and businesses mainly engaged in providing such training are in scope of the Industry Classification, the provision of other courses, and businesses mainly engaged in such provision, are out of scope of these classifications.

Which activities not classified as ‘free time’ activities are included?

The 1997 time use activity classification treats all eating and drinking of non-alcoholic beverages as personal care activities. However, for ACLC purposes, eating out and drinking socially outside of the home are regarded as leisure activities. Thus, the provision of opportunities to eat out and drink socially, the businesses mainly engaged in such service provision, and the occupations mainly engaged in such service provision, are in scope of the Product, Industry and Occupation Classifications, respectively.

Paid work done by people in heritage, arts, sports or other leisure businesses, or for those purposes in other businesses, is classified as ‘contracted time’ in the 1997 time use activity classification, while unpaid work in those areas is classified as ‘committed time’. However, all such work is regarded as a culture or leisure activity for the ACLC, by definition.

What types of industries, products and occupations are excluded from the ACLC?

Products which may be used for culture and leisure purposes but for which the main intended use is not culture and leisure related are excluded from the Product Classification. For example, creating graffiti art is a leisure activity and, arguably, a cultural activity; paint, particularly in spray cans, is used for this activity. However, when developing the ACLC, NCCRS took the view that graffiti art was neither the predominant, nor intended, use of paint in spray cans; thus these products are out of scope of the Product Classification, and businesses mainly engaged in their manufacture are out of scope of the Industry Classification.

Similarly, hosting dinner parties in one’s own home is regarded by NCCRS as a leisure activity. However, the manufacture and sale of the foods and drinks used in the preparation of a dinner party are not distinguishable from the manufacture and sale of foods and drinks used in the preparation of everyday meals in the home, which is a personal care activity. Thus, foods and drinks, and their manufacture and sale, are out of scope of the Product and Industry Classifications.

The same reasoning applies to occupations which have been excluded from the Occupation Classification because, although some people involved in the occupations would be working in specialisations related to culture and leisure, the majority would not be. More detail about Occupation Classification inclusions and exclusions can be found in the introduction to Chapter 4.

Finally, there is a range of leisure activities for which there are, by their nature, no associated industries, products or occupations. Examples of such activities are visiting a friend, resting, sitting in the back yard, daydreaming, and playing ‘hide and seek’ with one’s children.

How far back along the chain of supply does the ACLC go?

In general, the good or service which directly supplies a consumer with a culture or leisure opportunity is in scope of the Product classification, and businesses mainly engaged in the production or provision of that good or service are in scope of the Industry Classification. However, the goods and services one step back along the chain of supply are out of scope. Two illustrations of this principle are included below.

As eating out is a leisure activity, the Product Classification includes a number of classes covering food and beverage serving services; the Industry Classification includes business mainly engaged in providing such services, e.g. cafes, restaurants, pubs and hospitality clubs; and the Occupation Classification includes those occupations directly involved in providing the leisure opportunity, i.e. preparing and serving the food and drinks. However, the step further back in the supply chain is not covered by the ACLC. For example, glasses, tables, chairs and tablecloths are not in scope of the Product Classification, both because they are a step back in the chain of supply and because their predominant uses are not for culture and leisure purposes.

Television sets are in scope of the Product Classification as they enable people to watch TV, which is one of the most popular leisure activities, and businesses mainly engaged in the manufacture and sale of TVs, and other home entertainment equipment, are in scope of the Industry Classification. However, the raw materials and components used in the manufacture of TVs are not in scope of the ACLC.


The three classifications suggest common structures and definitions for culture and leisure industry, product and occupation data. As such, they are a useful guide for a wide variety of purposes relating to the analysis of culture and leisure economic statistics. Specifically, the classifications can be used as a quick reference for practical definitions of key culture and leisure categories. They also provide information on classifications or structures used in outputting ABS' culture and leisure statistics, and they summarise the culture and leisure components of three of the ABS' standard classifications. Finally, researchers can use the classifications to aid their survey design and to structure their research output.

This document is divided into three main areas, as shown in the figure below.
Image showing document is divided into three main areas

The summary of the ACLC Industry Classification provides a list of all groups and classes in the classification. Summaries of the ACLC product and occupation classifications contain major group headings only.

As suggested above, different users of these classifications will make use of them in different ways and for different purposes. For those unfamiliar with the application of classifications, we present two examples of how the ACLC could be used.

To find a description of a culture and leisure industry in the ACLC Industry Classification:
  • First, using the ACLC Industry Classification summary, find the appropriate category (be it a division, group or class); then use the detailed classification to find a description of that category.
  • If you are having difficulty finding a category that matches your needs, check the alphabetical index to see if it is listed there.
  • If you want to locate the category of the standard ABS classification (i.e., ANZSIC) to which the ACLC Industry Classification corresponds, go to the correspondences section.

To find a culture and leisure product in the ACLC Product Classification or a culture and leisure occupation in the ACLC Occupation Classification:
  • Go to the alphabetical index and determine the relevant classification code.
  • Using the code, go to the detailed classification to obtain details on other products or occupations that fall under that code or group.
  • If the product or occupation you are looking for is not in the index, this does not necessarily mean it is not covered by the classification -- that is, it may simply be called something else. To check this, go to the classification summary to find the general group that your product or occupation might fall under and check in the detailed classification for a comprehensive list of the types of products and occupations covered by that group.

The ABS is available to provide support and assistance in the use of the classifications. If you have any queries about the use of the ACLC, please contact the National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics (contact details can be found at the end of this chapter).


The classifications included within the ACLC are expected to be adopted widely by users of culture and leisure data in Australia, including those organisations outside of the ABS which need to design a survey, organise administrative data or otherwise collect information.

The influence of the ACLC on ABS publications will be seen as output from collections begin to reflect the new classifications. For example, it is expected that upcoming publications from the sport and recreation Service Industries Surveys series, to be released in mid-2002, will contain output in line with the ACLC Industry Classification. In addition, the ANZSPC, released in June 2001, incorporates most of the classes in the ACLC Product Classification. As ABS survey collections begin to adopt the new ANZSPC, data may become available for more culture and leisure products.

The existence of the new classifications does not mean the ABS will conduct additional surveys on culture and leisure topics. ABS culture and leisure surveys will continue to be produced only as a need for each is justified and the necessary resources are allocated.

In cases where the ACLC industry and product classes are significantly different from the standard classifications currently used by the ABS, data for these classes may be difficult to obtain. However, it is important that the Classifications, in their entirety, be published so they can be understood and discussed, even though concerns exist about the ability to collect relevant data for all classes at the present time. Such debate and user interest may facilitate the ability to collect such information in the future, or lead to refinements of the classifications.


The development of the three culture and leisure classifications is the first stage in the preparation of a wider framework for managing and developing culture and recreation data. NCCRS is undertaking further work in this area, including the development of an information model. Such models generally depict the major entities (e.g. people, organisations, factors of production, goods and services), as well as the major transactions and relationships between the entities in the relevant sector. An information model will provide the conceptual framework necessary for identifying the coverage (and shortcomings) of existing culture and leisure datasets. As well, a culture and leisure information model will be a reference resource for anyone involved in structuring and analysing statistical information on culture and leisure.

It is planned that the development of an information plan would flow on from the development of the information model. The information plan would serve the role of describing the degree to which current information needs (e.g. flowing from policy issues and community concerns) are met either through the ABS or other organisations, and the type of information needed to address deficiencies and gaps. The information plan would then identify the priority areas for attention, the gaps which should be addressed and the methods by which such information should best be gathered. The need to produce additional classifications and a data directory will be considered in the course of this work. All of these additional tasks will be undertaken in consultation with users.


Comments on the classifications and queries about their use or interpretation may be addressed to The Director, National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics, Australian Bureau of Statistics, GPO Box 2272, Adelaide SA 5001, or by email to nccrs@abs.gov.au. Comments on potential future developments, such as the need for additional classifications, are also welcome.

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