1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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The ABS Time Use Survey divides the activities on which people spend their time into four main categories: necessary time, contracted time, committed time, and free time. Necessary time describes activities which are performed for personal survival, such as sleeping and eating. Contracted time describes activities such as paid work and regular education where there are explicit contracts which control the periods of time in which the activities are performed. Committed time describes activities to which a person has committed him/herself because of previous social or community interactions, such as volunteering. 'Free time' is the amount of time left over when the previous three types of time have been taken out. It includes time allocated to social and community interaction, and recreation and leisure.

In 2006, adults spent (on average) 21% of their time on free time activities, similar to the proportion in 1997 (22%). Overall, men and women spent similar time on free time activities (ABS 2008b). Most free time was spent on a range of recreation and leisure activities such as watching TV, listening to the radio, taking part in sport and outdoor activities, reading and talking.

The average time spent on recreation and leisure as the primary activity in 2006 was 4 hours 13 minutes per day, down 15 minutes from 1997, with the largest falls being in time spent on 'sport and outdoor activities' (down 8 minutes) and 'games, hobbies, arts and crafts' (down 7 minutes). On average men spent 4 hours 29 minutes a day on recreation and leisure activities, whilst women spent 3 hours 57 minutes a day (ABS 2008b).

When visiting entertainment and cultural venues (such as cinemas, theatres and libraries) in 1997 and 2006, adults spent on average about 2 hours at the venue or event (ABS 2009a).

Free time activities are often combined (e.g. reading and listening to music) or done at the same time as activities in other time categories (e.g. housework and listening to the radio). Combining main and simultaneous activities shows that 8 hours and 47 minutes a day were spent on free time activities, with men and women spending similar amounts of time (ABS 2008b).


  • Culture and leisure glossary
  • Culture and leisure references

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