4720.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: User Guide, 2014-15  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/05/2016   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

INCOME AND FINANCES


Overview

This chapter provides information on:


For information on accommodation costs refer to the Housing and mobility chapter.

Household income

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 the 2014–15 NATSISS, household income was calculated from the income received by all of the household's usual residents aged 15 years and over. The household spokesperson provided this information on behalf of other household members, except where members were selected for personal interview. The following information was collected for each household member:
  • whether they received an income;
  • the source/s of income, including type of pension (if applicable); and
  • the amount/s they received (pre-tax).

Household gross weekly income (ie pre-tax income) was output in single dollar values. See Personal income for more information on the sources of income.

Household income deciles

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. In the 2014–15 NATSISS, the deciles are not taken from deciles within the survey; rather, a national figure is used (both non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Islander households), meaning there will not necessarily be 10% of the NATSISS estimated population in in each decile. The decile boundaries from the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) have been used, and adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index to account for enumeration period differences between 2014 GSS and the 2014–15 NATSISS. The following table presents the dollar amount cut-offs for each decile.

Table 3.10.1. Household gross weekly income, by decile ranges

Decile
$

First (lowest)
<= 423.14
Second
<= 606.37
Third
<= 815.92
Fourth
<= 1,066.97
Fifth
<= 1,358.51
Sixth
<= 1,718.89
Seventh
<= 2,117.74
Eighth
<= 2,640.09
Ninth
<= 3,505.61
Tenth (highest)
<= 10,000.00


Equivalised household income

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:
  • the first adult in the household is given a weight of 1 point;
  • each additional person aged 15 years or older is allocated 0.5 points; and
  • each child aged 0–14 years is allocated 0.3 points.

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 0.

The following table presents the dollar amount cut-offs for each decile. As was the case for gross household income, the deciles are national deciles (non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households) taken from the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) and indexed to account for the different enumeration period.

Table 3.10.2. Equivalised household gross weekly income, by decile ranges

Decile
$

First (lowest)
<= 353.29
Second
<= 429.22
Third
<= 538.55
Fourth
<= 674.20
Fifth
<= 832.11
Sixth
<= 1,011.29
Seventh
<= 1,231.98
Eighth
<= 1,517.45
Ninth
<= 1,969.95
Tenth (highest)
<= 10,000.00


Imputed Income

If the household spokesperson reported that a household member received only Newstart, disability support pension, age pension or a carers payment but reported a 'don't know' or 'refusal' for the income amount, these values were imputed as the maximum allowable fortnightly pension amount based on relationship status using 'A Guide to Australian Government payments' 1 January - 19 March 2015.

Income not reported

If one or more contributing person records in a household had a value of 'don't know', then household income and derived income deciles were set to 'Not known'. After this, if one or more records was not stated ('refusal'), then the household income and derived deciles were set to 'Partial or all incomes not stated' as in both cases it was not possible to derive an accurate total. In the 2014–15 NATSISS, approximately 24% of all households had a not stated ('refusal') or not known income.

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.

The 2014–15 NATSISS includes several measures which could be used to identify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households that were constrained in their activities because of a shortage of money or access to sufficient financial resources, including whether:
  • a household could raise $2,000 within a week in an emergency;
  • any household members ran out of money for basic living expenses in the 12 months/2 weeks prior to interview; and
  • any household members went without basic living items in the 12 months prior to interview.

Also measured for households in the 12 months prior to interview were the:
  • whether any bill payments taken directly from bank account or income;
  • selected strategies used to meet basic living expenses;
  • number of strategies used to meet basic living expenses;
  • number of times they had difficulty paying bills;
  • type of cash flow problems; and
  • number of types of cash flow problems.

These measures are described in more detail below.

Bill payments

The household spokesperson was asked whether they or other members of the household had any bill payments, such as electricity, gas, telephone or rent, taken directly from their income or bank account. Responses were based on the following:
  • yes—income;
  • yes—bank account;
  • yes—both;
  • no; or
  • don't know.

Strategies used to meet basic living expenses

The household spokesperson was asked whether they or other members of the household experienced any of the following situations in the 12 months prior to interview because they didn't have enough money:
  • asked for money from friends or family;
  • asked for help from welfare or community organisations;
  • couldn't pay electricity, gas or telephone bills on time;
  • couldn't pay mortgage or rent on time;
  • couldn't pay car car registration or insurance on time;
  • couldn't pay the minimum payment on a credit card;
  • couldn't heat or cool their home;
  • pawned or sold something to get money;
  • missed meals;
  • used short term loans (eg personal loan);
  • ran up a tab (book up) at the local store;
  • gave somebody else access to their keycard;
  • no/none of these; or
  • don't know.

More than one response could be provided. If at least one of the situations related to the inability to pay utility bills, accommodation costs, car expenses or credit card repayments, the household spokesperson was asked the number of times there was difficulty paying bills in the 12 months prior to interview. Responses were based on the following:
  • once;
  • twice;
  • 3 to 5 times;
  • 6 to 9 times;
  • 10 to 19 times;
  • 20 times or more; or
  • don't know.

The two measures for strategies used include:
  • selected strategies used to meet basic living expenses in past 12 months; and
  • number of strategies used to meet basic living expenses in last 12 months.

Selected strategies used to meet basic living expenses include:
  • used short term loans;
  • pawned or sold something;
  • did not have meals;
  • sought assistance from welfare / community organisations;
  • sought assistance from friends or family;
  • ran up a tab (book up) at a local store;
  • gave someone else access to keycard;
  • no strategies used;
  • not known; and
  • not stated.

The number of strategies used is output numerically as a single value up to a maximum of 7.

Cash flow problems

Based on information provided about strategies used to meet basic living expenses, there are also two measures for cash flow problems:
  • types of cash flow problems in the past 12 months; and
  • number of types of cash flow problems in last 12 months.

Types of cash flow problems include:
  • could not pay electricity, gas or telephone bills on time;
  • could not pay mortgage or rent payments on time;
  • could not pay car car registration or insurance on time;
  • could not make minimum payment on credit card;
  • was unable to heat or cool the home;
  • none of these;
  • not known; and
  • not stated.

The number of types of cash flow problems is output numerically as a single value up to a maximum of 5.

Ran out of money for basic living expenses and items

The household spokesperson was asked whether they or other members of the household had any days in the 12 months prior to interview when they ran out of money for food, clothing or bills (basic living expenses). If not, they were skipped to the question about raising emergency money. If there were days when any household members ran out of money, the spokesperson was asked if this had occurred in the 2 weeks prior to interview. They were also asked whether they or other members of the household had to go without food, clothing or put off paying bills (basic living items).

Ability to raise $2,000 within a week in an emergency

The household spokesperson was asked whether they or other members of the household could raise $2,000 within a week in an emergency. The reason for raising the money was left open to interpretation, with the object being to determine whether people thought their household had access to, or the ability to amass, these resources within a week for something important. An example might be to pay for an emergency operation and the money could have been obtained from any source such as savings or a loan. Responses could be yes, no or don't know.

Comparison to the 2008 NATSISS

In 2008, the question relating to strategies used to meet basic living expenses included the category, 'anything else'. In 2014–15, this category was omitted from the questionnaire.

Personal income

Income is important in understanding a person's economic and social well-being. The 2014–15 NATSISS collected information on a person's source/s of income and the amount/s received before tax was taken out. The household spokesperson provided limited information on household members aged 15 years and over who were not selected for a personal interview, including:
  • whether an income was received;
  • the source/s of income, including type of pension (if applicable); and
  • the pre-tax amount/s received.

Selected persons aged 15 years and over were also asked their source/s of income and amount/s received, based on the following:
  • wages and salary (includes own incorporated business);
  • profit or loss from own unincorporated business or share in a partnership;
  • profit or loss from rental property;
  • dividends or interest;
  • any government pension or allowance (including Abstudy and Family Tax Benefit, if these were received fortnightly);
  • child support or maintenance;
  • superannuation or annuity;
  • workers' compensation; and
  • any other regular source.

In remote areas, this list also included:
  • native title payments/royalties from land; and
  • distribution from community business organisations or trusts.

Personal gross weekly income (ie pre-tax income) was output in single dollar values. More than one source of income could be reported. For each source of income a person had received, the gross amount of income (before tax) for each source was requested. The income may have been provided as a dollar amount, or they may have responded that they did not know or did not want to answer.

Where a person indicated that they earned income from 'native title payments/royalties from land' or 'distribution from community business organisations or trusts' the source was coded to 'any other regular source' for output purposes.

Principal source of income (main source)

A person's principal source of income was determined through a calculation based on all sources of income received. The principal source was determined based on the highest weekly amount received from a particular income source. The principal sources of personal income include:
  • Wages and salary (including own incorporated business);
  • Income from own unincorporated business or share in a partnership;
  • Income from rental property;
  • Dividends or interest;
  • Any government pension or allowance;
  • Child support or maintenance;
  • Superannuation, annuity or allocated pension;
  • Workers' compensation; and
  • Any other regular source

A person may have had no sources of income or not known, or not stated the amount received. In some cases the principal source was unable to be determined ('not defined'). Principal source of income was coded as 'not defined' in two circumstances:
  • where a person reported negative gross weekly income; or
  • in remote areas, where a person received more than one of superannuation, child support, and workers' compensation. In remote areas the amount for these sources was not asked separately and therefore could not be defined.

If a person only stated only one source of income, this was determined to be their principal source, even when the amount was not provided.

Government pensions, allowances or benefits

Information on government pensions or allowances was collected from selected persons aged 15 years and over. They were asked to select the type of assistance received from the following list:
  • Australian Age Pension;
  • Service Pension (from DVA);
  • Disability Support Pension (Centrelink);
  • Newstart Allowance;
  • Carer Payment;
  • Partner Allowance;
  • Widow Allowance (Widow B Pension) (Centrelink);
  • Wife Pension;
  • Sickness Allowance;
  • Mature Age Allowance; and
  • Special Benefit.

Only one of these types of benefits could be received. If a person was receiving one of these types of assistance, this was considered to be their principal pension or allowance.

Some types of assistance may be received at the same time as, or in addition to, the principal pension or allowance outlined above. Therefore, people were asked whether they received any of the following:
  • Family Tax Benefit (as a regular payment);
  • Parenting Payment;
  • Government Family Payment (not further defined);
  • Abstudy;
  • Youth Allowance;
  • Disability pension (DVA);
  • Carer Allowance;
  • War Widow's or Widower's Pension (DVA);
  • Overseas government pension, allowance or benefit; or
  • Other government pension, allowance or benefit.

More than one response could be provided. People in non-remote areas had the option of 'Family Tax Benefit as a regular payment'. However, people in remote areas did not have this as an option from the list of payments. Instead, people in remote areas were asked a separate question asking if they received any money from the 'Government Family Payment'. As a result, the data item, 'Type of government pension' includes both 'Family Tax Benefit' and 'Government Family Payment' which include responses from only non-remote and remote areas respectively.

Period of government support

People aged 15 years and over were asked about their reliance on, and duration of, government support. If a person said that a government pension, allowance or benefit had been their principal source of income at any time in the two years prior to interview, they were asked the total length of time for which government pension, allowance or benefit was their primary source of income. Responses could be provided in weeks, months or years, or they may have said they did not know. Responses were output numerically as a value ranging from 1 to 995 days, as well as ranged categories of months, based on the following:
  • 1 to less than 3 months;
  • 3 to less than 6 months;
  • 6 to less than 9 months;
  • 9 to less than 12 months;
  • 12 to less than 15 months;
  • 15 to less than 18 months;
  • 18 to less than 21 months; and
  • 21 months or more (to a maximum of 24 months).

Where a person reported that government support had been their primary source of income for four weeks or less, they were coded to '1 to less than 3 months'.

Personal income deciles

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 lowest 10%, the second decile contains the next 10% and so on. In the 2014–15 NATSISS, the deciles are not taken from deciles within the survey; rather, a national figure is used (both non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Islander households), meaning there will not necessarily be 10% of the NATSISS estimated population in each decile. The decile boundaries from the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) have been used, and adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index to account for enumeration period differences between 2014 GSS and the 2014–15 NATSISS. The following table presents the dollar amount cut-offs for each decile.

Table 3.10.3. Personal gross weekly income, by decile ranges

Decile
$

First (lowest)
<= 36.44
Second
<= 252.06
Third
<= 374.55
Fourth
<= 479.83
Fifth
<= 651.92
Sixth
<= 859.45
Seventh
<= 1064.95
Eighth
<= 1358.51
Ninth
<= 1841.38
Tenth (highest)
<= 10,000.00


Income not reported

If more than one contributing income items had a value of 'Not known' or 'Not stated', then totals derived from these items, such as 'Gross weekly personal income' were also set to 'Not known' or 'Not stated', as in both cases it was not possible to derive an accurate total. In the 2014–15 NATSISS, approximately 8% of all persons aged 15 years and over had a not stated or not known income.

Comparison to the 2008 NATSISS

In 2008, 'CDEP' (Community Development Employment Projects) was included as a category of sources of personal income and principal source of personal income. The 2008 survey specifically asked about CDEP income if a person indicated in the employment module of questions that they participated in CDEP. As CDEP was discontinued in 2013, these questions were not included in the 2014–15 NATSISS questionnaire. For more information see Appendix 3: Understanding labour force status and the introduction of the Remote Jobs and Communities Program from National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014–15 (cat no. 4714.0).

In 2008, the ordering of the questionnaire allowed some possible double-counting of Family Tax Benefit. In 2014–15, this was rectified, with the people in non-remote areas having the option of 'Family Tax Benefit as a regular payment' listed as an option to the question about government payments received. People in remote areas did not have this as an option from the list of payments. Instead, people in remote areas were asked a separate (previous) question asking if they received any money from the 'Government Family Payment'. For further information about reporting of income amounts in 2008 See National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Users' Guide, 2008 (cat no. 4720.0).

In 2008, for people in both remote and non-remote areas, the question relating to income sources included a list of sources including:
  • art centre distribution;
  • native title payments/royalties from land; and
  • distribution from community business organisations or trusts.

In 2014–15, these options were not listed on the prompt card non-remote areas. In remote areas, only the latter two were included on the prompt card.

In 2008, income amounts for selected sources were not asked separately. If a person indicated they received more than one type of the the following income sources, the income from each source could not be calculated:
  • child support or maintenance;
  • superannuation, an annuity or private pension;
  • workers' compensation;
  • dividends from shares;
  • interest;
  • art centre distribution;
  • native title payments/royalties from land;
  • distribution from community business organisations or trust; and
  • other source of income.

In 2008, if more than one of the above was selected, then main source could not be determined accurately. In 2014–15, the amount of income for each of these sources was asked separately in non-remote areas. In remote areas, income amounts were not asked separately (if more than one of the above sources was selected), with the following exceptions:
  • art centre distribution, which was not included on the prompt card; and
  • other source of income, which was asked as a separate question.

The following information was collected in 2008, but was not collected in 2014–15:
  • Whether has a bank or credit union account;
  • Type of method used for accessing money; and
  • Number of types of methods used for accessing money.

CURF perturbation

Some income data on the Expanded CURF have been perturbed. Data items with perturbation applied include:
  • Personal gross weekly income;
  • Household gross weekly income;
  • Equivalised household gross weekly income;
  • Usual weekly rent payment; and
  • Weekly mortgage repayments.

Income statistics from the Expanded CURF are therefore not consistent with TableBuilder statistics. However, the nature of the changes made ensures that the effect on data for analysis purposes is considered negligible. For more information relating to perturbation, see Methodology in this publication. For further details relating to the perturbation of Expanded CURF data, see Using the Expanded CURF in the NATSISS microdata publication.