4914.0.55.001 - Newsletter: Age Matters, Jan 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/01/2007   
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This edition of Age Matters includes an update on the upcoming ABS Survey of Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation (SEARS) and a summary from the Review of Strategic Statistical Issues for Future National Health Surveys.


The ABS Survey of Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation (SEARS) will be conducted in 2007. SEARS will contain information about: people's employment arrangements such as job flexibility; job security; job duration and expected job duration; working patterns; extra paid and unpaid hours worked; people's work preferences; caring responsibilities and working arrangements used to care for someone.

The survey will also present information on retirement and retirement intentions, including plans for transition to retirement; expected age at retirement; expected sources of income at retirement; age at retirement and reasons for retirement.

Information will be available from the survey on how much people are contributing to superannuation (through personal, employer and/or spouse contributions) and their account balances, whether they are receiving a pension or annuity from superannuation, and the characteristics of people with different levels of superannuation coverage.

The survey will include a range of socio-demographic information, including country of birth of parent and proficiency in spoken English.


The National Health Survey (NHS) is a key component of a program of ABS Health related surveys, and also of a broader group of health related population surveys conducted in Australia. It focuses on chronic (long term) condition status, interventions and health risk factors. It also provides a relatively detailed demographic and social context.

The ABS conducted a Review of Strategic Statistical Issues for Future National Health Surveys to determine a strategic approach to managing the scope, content and coverage of future National Health Surveys, and ensure integration with other national and international health surveys. This paper provides details of the review – the context, processes undertaken, feedback received and recommendations made for future health data.

A process of consultation was undertaken from September 2004 to elicit feedback from a broad spectrum of experts and users of health data. Key information needs were identified for policy issues, research questions and decision making in the area of health.

Broad consultation began with two workshops, and continued with the establishment of the Health Statistics Online Discussion Forum and release of fourteen discussion papers on topics of interest which were widely distributed among stakeholders. A number of meetings were also held with government and non-government bodies and committees.

Proposals were discussed at several meetings of the Health Statistics Advisory Group and the final proposals were strongly supported at the most recent meeting in August 2006. The proposals are based on the assumption that the following NHS in 2010-11, which coincides with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), may require a return to content similar to the 2004-05 NHS. Data content for the 2010-11 NHS will be finalised at a later date. The collection of health related data in other surveys, such as the Multi-Purpose Household Survey or Monthly Population Survey, will also need to be discussed further.

The major outcomes from the Review in terms of directions for the 2007-08 NHS are:

  • Increased focus on chronic disease.
  • Maintain comparability of measures over time wherever possible.
  • Exclude recent injury, service use levels, private health insurance, hysterectomy, hormone replacement therapy, breast feeding, food security and immunisation topics with a view to reinstatement in 2010-11.
  • Test possible new topics:
    • self-management, General Practitioner management, consultations and reduced activity related to specific conditions - asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and musculoskeletal conditions
    • physical measurements of height, weight, hip and waist circumference, and blood pressure
    • changes in lifestyle risk factor behaviour
    • occupational and transport-related physical activity, and amount of sitting time
    • bodily pain, disability status and family stressors
    • alcohol and tobacco use for 15-17 year olds
    • type of vitamins etc. taken, type of pharmaceuticals taken and duration of use, consultations, reduced activity and age of diagnosis for mental disorders.
The full report can be found on the ABS's health statistics online discussion forum.

The NHS development phase has now reached the survey's dress rehearsal stage, with content for the final survey being likely to be further refined following completion of the dress rehearsal.