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.


Measures of income do not necessarily provide the whole story of people’s capacity to maintain living standards and meet household needs. This topic includes measures which could be used to identify households that were constrained in their activities because of a shortage of money or access to sufficient financial resources. The financial stress indicator used in the 2016 PSS looks at the ability of the household to meet urgent financial commitments and whether they had any cash flow problems in the last 12 months. These were determined by questions asking whether:

  • A household could raise $2,000 within a week in an emergency
  • A household had cash flow problems in the last 12 months


Respondents were asked whether they or other members of the household could raise $2,000 within a week for something important. 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 or unexpected bills and the money could be obtained from any source such as drawing on savings, getting a loan from family or friends or a financial institution.

Respondents were also asked if they or other members of the household had any of the following happen as a result of being short of money in the last 12 months:
  • Could not pay electricity, gas or telephone bills on time
  • Could not pay mortgage or rent payments on time
  • Could not pay for car registration or insurance on time
  • Could not make minimum payment on credit card
  • Pawned or sold something because they needed cash
  • Went without meals
  • Were unable to heat or cool their home
  • Sought financial assistance from friends or family
  • Sought assistance from welfare or community organisations


The data items and related output categories for this topic are contained within the SPS Level – Financial stress 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 the relationship between financial stress and characteristics of people who experience violence.

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


Points to be considered when interpreting data for this topic include the following:
  • Responses to these questions are based on the current situation of the household and may not be reflective of their financial stress 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.
  • 'Something important' (i.e. the reason for raising $2,000) was left for the respondent to interpret.
  • The household may get the money from a number of sources such as family or a financial institution.
  • Where there was more than one person aged 15 years and over in the household, the questions relate to the situation of the household (i.e. questions referenced ‘members of this household’). Responses therefore may not specifically relate to the circumstances of the respondent alone and could be subject to the respondent’s ability to answer on behalf of the household.
  • The financial stress data collected in this survey is not designed to produce estimates about the prevalence of financial stress in the population. The financial stress items should therefore only be used in conjunction with other violence prevalence data.


Financial stress in the 2016 PSS is considered comparable to 2005 and 2012 PSS. This topic was not collected in the 1996 Women's Safety Survey.

Note that there was a minor wording change in 2016 to one category in the Cash flow problems items. ‘Unable to heat your home’ was changed to ‘Unable to heat or cool your home’ and should be considered when interpreting the data.