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9. POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS
For people aged 15-24 years, the survey also asked whether they were a full-time student.
Based on the household demographic information, one person in the household aged 16-85 years was randomly selected to complete a personal interview. The selected person, or an elected household spokesperson, also answered some financial and housing items on behalf of other household members, including:
Additionally, the location of the selected household was used to derive:
Family composition of household
The family composition of household is derived from the information provided for all persons who usually live in, and the relationships between the persons within, the household. Family compositions include:
Tenure type gives an indication of the stability of living arrangements for persons in a household or dwelling. For instance, a family may have better financial security if their house is owned outright, rather than being paid off or rented, as both of these situations are subject to possible financial fluctuation (eg interest rates or rent rises).
The household spokesperson was asked about the type of dwelling tenure and whether the dwelling was:
If none of these tenure types were endorsed, the household spokesperson was asked if they (or their spouse/partner/parent):
The amount of income a person has access to is an important component of their economic resources. While income is usually received by individuals, it is normally shared between partners in a couple relationship and with any dependent children. To a lesser degree, there may be sharing with other members of the household. Even when there is no transfer of income between members of a household, nor provision of free or cheap accommodation, members are still likely to benefit from the economies of scale that arise from the sharing of dwellings.
In this survey, household income is derived from the income of all usual residents in the dwelling aged 15 years and over. The household spokesperson provided this information on behalf of the other household members. The following information was collected for each household member:
The main sources of income include:
Information on gross personal income (ie pre-tax income) for each member of the household was used to create household income. Household income data, both gross weekly cash and equivalised, are available in dollar amounts or in deciles. Deciles are groupings that result from ranking all households in the population in ascending order according to some characteristic, such as income, and then dividing the population into 10 equal groups, each comprising 10% of the estimated population. The first decile contains the bottom 10%, the second decile contains the next 10% and so on. The following table presents the dollar amount cut-offs for each decile.
Equivalence scales are used to make adjustments to the actual incomes of households so that the relative wellbeing of households of differing sizes and compositions are able to be compared. For example, it would be expected that a two-person household would usually need more income than a lone person household, if the two households are to enjoy the same standard of living.
Equivalised income is calculated by deriving an equivalence factor according to the chosen equivalence scale, and then dividing income by the factor. The equivalence factor, derived using the 'modified OECD' equivalence scale, is determined by allocating the following points to each person in a household:
Equivalised household income is derived by dividing the total household income by a factor equal to the sum of the equivalence points allocated to the household members. The equivalised income of a lone person household is the same as its unequivalised income. The equivalised income of a household comprising more than one person lies between the total value and the per capita value of its unequivalised income.
When unequivalised household income is negative, such as when a loss is reported for an individual's unincorporated business or other investment income, and this loss is greater than the positive income from other sources, then equivalised household income is set to zero.
The following table presents the dollar amount cut-offs for each decile.
Income not reported
If more than one contributing person record in a household had a value of 'Not known', then household income and derived income deciles were set to 'Not known/no income reported', as it was not possible to derive an accurate total.
Household financial stress
Measures of income and expenditure do not necessarily provide the whole story of people's capacity to maintain living standards and meet household needs. Households may choose to go without certain goods or services, draw down savings, or take on debts in order to maintain other spending or meet urgent financial commitments.
To give an indication of whether a household had experienced financial stress in the 12 months prior to interview, the survey asked about situations which may have occurred because of a shortage of money. The household spokesperson was asked to choose one or more responses from the following list:
Geographic characteristics are classified through a hierarchical system of geographical areas under the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (cat. no. 1216.0). Each geographical area consists of a number of interrelated structures.
For this survey, the location of the selected household was used to determine several geographic characteristics, including state/territory, remoteness, section of state and part of state.
State and territory
States and territories are the largest units in the geographical classification. State/territory units are political entities with fixed boundaries. This survey recognised the following units:
The remoteness structure contains three hierarchical levels:
There are six classes within this structure, which when aggregated, cover the whole of Australia. The levels of remoteness are:
Section of state
Section of state uses population counts from the most recent Census of Population and Housing to classify Collection Districts as urban or rural. The different sections are:
Part of state
Each of the states and territories may be classified into two parts, or part of state, based on the household's location:
Due to the small populations of the NT and ACT, these were not divided into parts. The NT was classified as 'Balance of state' and the ACT as 'Capital city'.
Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)
Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) is a suite of four summary measures compiled by the ABS using information collected in the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. These four measures are the:
Each index summarises a different aspect of the socio-economic conditions in an area, and therefore summarises a different set of social and economic information. For each index, every geographic area in Australia is given a SEIFA number which shows how relatively 'disadvantaged' that area is compared with other areas in Australia.
This survey provides an index number for each summary measure in deciles by Collection District (CD) and Statistical Local Area (SLA). For more details on SEIFA refer to Information Paper: An Introduction to Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), 2006 (cat. no. 2039.0).
SELECTED PERSON CHARACTERISTICS
As outlined earlier, from the household demographic information one person aged 16-85 years was randomly selected to complete a personal interview. The following information was collected from this selected person (the respondent):
Education can be broadly defined as the lifetime process of obtaining knowledge, attitudes, skills, and socially valued qualities of character and behaviour. Education generally involves the intent of learning and some exchange of communication. This survey included a standard set of ABS questions on educational attainment, which are used in the Monthly Population Survey and other Special Social Surveys.
The respondent was asked if they were attending secondary school, or whether they were a full-time student at a TAFE, university or other educational institution at the time of the interview. The respondent was also asked if they were taking any course of study for a trade certificate, diploma, degree or any other educational qualification at the time of the interview and if so, whether they were studying full-time or part-time.
Level of highest non-school qualification
The level of highest non-school qualification is the highest level of educational attainment above secondary school (ie above Year 12). The level is determined through the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).
ASCED provides a framework for statistical and administrative data on educational activity and attainment in Australia. It does not consider unstructured, unplanned or incidental learning activities. ASCED includes two component classifications:
ASCED replaces the ABS Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ) which was used in the 1997 survey.
Level of education
Level of education is measured in terms of the following criteria:
Non-school qualifications are awarded for educational attainments other than those of pre-primary, primary or secondary education. Non-school qualifications may be attained concurrently with school qualifications. The levels of qualification from highest to lowest are:
The completion of a qualification refers to successfully passing the required assessment or examination. It does not mean having graduated or having attended all classes.
Field of education
Field of education is the subject matter of an educational activity and is measured in terms of the following criteria:
For this survey, the field of education relates to the main field of the highest qualification completed. There are 12 broad fields of education, including: health, management and commerce, and information technology.
Labour force status
A reduced set of questions from the ABS monthly Labour Force Survey were used to collect information on the labour force status of the selected person. Based on the information provided, the person was classified as:
More details on these classifications are provided below.
An employed person is a person who, during the survey reference week:
Based on the hours worked in all jobs, employed people were classified as either part-time or full-time workers.
Employed people who usually worked less than 35 hours a week (in all jobs).
Employed people who usually worked 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs).
An occupation is a collection of jobs that are sufficiently similar in their title and tasks, skill level and skill specialisation which have been grouped together for the purposes of classification. Based on a description of the type of work performed by the respondent in their main job (ie the job in which they usually worked the most hours) a code was assigned as their occupation of employment.
For this survey, occupations have been classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), First Edition, 2006 and the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO), Second Edition, 1997 (cat. no. 1220.0). The major groups of occupations according to ANZSCO are:
More detailed occupation data may also be available on request.
An industry is a group of businesses or organisations that undertake similar economic activities to produce goods and services. Based on a description of the type of work performed by the respondent in their main job (the job in which they usually worked the most hours) a code was assigned as their industry of employment.
For this survey, industries have been classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 and the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC),1993 (cat. no. 1292.0). The industry divisions according to ANZSIC 2006 are:
More detailed industry data may also be available on request.
An unemployed person is a person who was not employed during the survey reference week, and:
Not in the labour force
Persons not in the labour force are those respondents who were not defined as either employed or unemployed during the survey reference week. These people are of interest as they reflect the potential supply of labour. Persons not in the labour force represent a diverse group, including those who have some attachment to the labour force, such as:
Persons not in the labour force also includes people who:
Income is important in understanding mental health and wellbeing, as it may influence a person's capacity to access services. This survey collected information on the respondent's source/s of income and the amount/s received before tax was taken out. The sources of income included:
Where the respondent had more than one source of income, they were also asked to nominate their main source of income.
Government pensions, allowances or benefits
If the source of income was a government pension or allowance, the respondent was asked to select the type of assistance being received from the list below. Only one of these types of benefits could be received for any single period.
It is possible for some types of pensions or benefits to be received at the same time, or in addition to the pensions and benefits outlined in the list above. Therefore, respondents were also asked if they received any of the following:
Information on gross personal income (ie pre-tax income) is available as dollar amounts or in deciles. Deciles are groupings that result from ranking all persons in the population in ascending order according to some characteristic, such as income, and then dividing the population into 10 equal groups, each comprising 10% of the estimated population. The first decile contains the bottom 10%, the second decile contains the next 10% and so on. The following table presents the dollar amount cut-offs for each decile.
Income not reported
If more than one contributing income item had a value of 'Not known', then totals derived from these items, such as 'Gross weekly personal income' were also set to 'Not known', as it was not possible to derive an accurate total.
Country of birth and year of arrival
Country of birth and year of arrival information was collected for each person in the household. The survey questionnaire listed the 10 most frequently reported countries. If the reported country was not among those listed, the details were recorded for subsequent coding. All responses were classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 1998 (cat. no. 1269.0).
The major groups of countries are:
If a person was born overseas, they were asked to provide their year of arrival as a numeric response. This refers to the year when a person first arrived to live in Australia for one year or more.
Additionally, the respondent was asked about the country of birth of their mother and father. These details were recorded and categorised as above.
Language mainly spoken at home
The respondent was asked to nominate the language they mainly spoke at home. The survey questionnaire listed the 10 most frequently reported languages spoken at home. If the reported language was not among those listed, the details were recorded for subsequent coding. If a person spoke more than one language, they were asked to select the one they spoke most often. All responses were classified according to the Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL), 2005-06 (cat. no. 1267.0).
The broad groups of languages are:
If the respondent mainly spoke a language other than English, they were then asked to rate their proficiency in English using the following scale:
Note that proxy, interpreted or foreign language interviews were not conducted. For more information see 'Interviews' in Chapter 2.
This survey collected information on marital status for each person in the household. The response categories were as follows:
If a person reported being in a de facto relationship, or being single/not married, they were then asked if they had ever been in a registered marriage. If a person had been in a registered marriage they were subsequently asked if they had ever been widowed, divorced or separated.
The responses were used to create two output categories:
Registered marital status
Social marital status
The respondent was asked to provide some additional information on their marital status, if they reported being widowed, divorced or separated. They were asked how long ago (in months or years) they separated from their last husband/wife or were widowed in their last marriage.
Due to perceived links between sexual orientation and mental health, this survey included a question on sexual orientation. The respondent was asked which of the following best described their sexual orientation at the time of interview:
Due to perceived links between homelessness and mental health, this survey included questions on homelessness. The respondent was asked if they had ever been homeless and if so, the total duration of all homeless experiences.
Being homeless includes:
Due to perceived links between incarceration and mental health, this survey included questions on incarceration. The respondent was asked if they had ever spent time in a gaol, prison or correctional facility and if so, the total duration of all incarceration experiences.
Australian Defence Force service
Research has shown links between mental health and service in the Defence Forces, particularly in relation to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Due to these perceived links, this survey included questions on service. The respondent was asked if they had ever served for the Australian Defence Forces. Service included:
Members of the Army Reserve were excluded.
The respondent was also asked if they were receiving or had received a benefit from the Department of Veterans' Affairs. This included:
COMPARISON WITH THE 1997 SURVEY
The following table highlights the main differences between the topics covered in this chapter for the 1997 and 2007 surveys. More detailed information on the 1997 population characteristics is provided in the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing of Adults: Users' Guide, 1997 (cat. no. 4327.0).
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