4906.0.55.003 - Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide, 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/11/2017   
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Information was obtained from men and women aged 18 years and over in the 2016 PSS.
In addition, where a respondent has a current partner they are living with, information about their education was also collected.


This topic refers to the highest level of school completed and the completion of non-school qualifications.

For school years up to and including Year 11, the term 'completed' means to attend for the full school year such that progression to the following year of school is enabled. For Year 12, 'completed' requires only attendance for the full year. Further details of the definitions used are available on request.

The definition of having ‘completed’ a non-school qualification refers to successfully passing all the required assessments or examination.

Non-school qualifications are awarded for education attainments other than those of pre-primary, primary or secondary education. However, non-school qualifications may be attained concurrently with school qualifications. Non-school qualifications do not include courses that provide a Statement of Attainment or Non-award courses.


Respondents were asked to provide information regarding their highest year of school completed and their highest non-school qualification. Where the respondent had a current partner living with them, they were also asked to provide this information on behalf of their partner. Current partners were not approached to provide their own details.

Highest year of school completed

Respondents were asked to provide the highest year of (primary or secondary) school they had completed, based on the following:

  • Year 12 or equivalent
  • Year 11 or equivalent
  • Year 10 or equivalent
  • Year 9 or equivalent
  • Year 8 or below
  • Never attended school

Non-school educational attainment

Respondents were asked if they (and, where applicable, also their current partner) had completed a trade certificate, diploma, degree or any other educational qualification (apart from school-level). Those who had were asked to provide details of the level of the highest qualification they had completed, and the main field of study for this qualification.

The level and field of highest non-school qualification was determined through the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

The level of highest non-school qualification is available in broad (collapsed) categories as listed below:
  • Postgraduate degree
  • Graduate diploma/graduate certificate
  • Bachelor degree
  • Advanced diploma/diploma
  • Certificate III/IV
  • Certificate I/II
  • Certificate not further defined
  • Level not determined
  • No non-school qualification

The main field of highest non-school qualification completed was collected via an open text field which was later coded in the office. It is available as 12 broad fields of education, as listed below:
  • Natural and physical sciences
  • Information technology
  • Engineering and related technologies
  • Architecture and building
  • Agriculture, environmental and related studies
  • Health
  • Education
  • Management and commerce
  • Society and culture
  • Creative arts
  • Food, hospitality and personal services
  • Mixed field programmes
  • Field not determined
  • Never attended school and no non-school qualification

Respondents (and their current partner, where applicable) were also categorised to an overall level of highest education attainment, based on the following broad categories in descending order:
  • Postgraduate degree
  • Graduate diploma/graduate certificate
  • Bachelor degree
  • Advanced diploma/diploma
  • Certificates III/ IV
  • Year 12
  • Year 11
  • Year 10
  • Certificates I/ II
  • Year 9 and below
  • Certificate not further defined
  • Level of non-school qualification not determined
  • Never attended school and does not have a non-school qualification


The data items and related output categories for this topic are contained within the SPS Level – Education tab in the data item list which is available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads tab of this product.


Data for this topic has been collected to provide further analytical possibilities around characteristics of people who experience violence. Current partner data for this topic can be used to provide further analytical possibilities about understanding the experiences and nature of domestic violence, including the characteristics of the victim and the perpetrator.

Data from this topic should not be used to only produce population estimates of education statistics. This data should be used in conjunction with other data related to experiences of violence collected in this survey.


Points to be considered in interpreting this topic include the following:
  • Details on the education of the current partner are collected via the selected respondent. Therefore the information is based on the knowledge the selected respondent has of their partner’s educational background. The option to refuse or identify that they didn’t know the answer was available and is identified by additional categories in the current partner output items. However in some cases the respondent may have provided their best guess, and as such there may be a small number of cases where the responses may not be correct. This is not expected to impact the quality of this data generally but should be considered when using these items.
  • Responses to these questions are based on the current situation of the respondent at the time of interview, and may not be reflective of their educational attainment at the time of particular experiences of violence, stalking or sexual harassment. Care should therefore be taken when making inferences for incidents that occurred in particular more than 12 months ago.
  • The education data collected in this survey is not designed to produce estimates about the level of education in the population. The education data produced should therefore only be used in conjunction with other violence prevalence data.


Education in the 2016 PSS is considered to be comparable with the 2005 and 2012 PSS. However, care should be taken if comparing these cycles to the 1996 Women’s Safety Survey (WSS), due to the following changes occurring between 1996 and 2005:
  • A change in the classification used. The 1996 WSS was coded to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ). As such, it is necessary to utilise the concordance for ABSCQ and ASCED to conduct any comparisons, and consider the limitations of this comparison.
  • Changes which happened in the Vocational Education and Training sector.
  • The introduction of the Australian Qualifications Framework.