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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The 2016 PSS includes information on demographic and geographic characteristics. This chapter provides an overview of the characteristics of:


The survey collected basic demographic information about each person in the household, from a usual resident aged 18 years or over (referred to as an ‘ARA’ –any responsible adult).

This information included:
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Relationship to other persons in the household
  • Country of birth
  • Year of arrival (if born overseas)
  • Registered marital status/social marital status
  • Whether anyone aged 15-24 was a full-time student

The demographic information collected from the ARA provided some context for the selected person (and their current partner where applicable), including:
  • Age of respondent/current partner
  • Sex of respondent/current partner
  • Registered marital status of respondent
  • Social marital status of respondent
  • Country of birth of respondent/current partner
  • Year of arrival of respondent/current partner (if born overseas)
  • Family composition (of respondent’s family)

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


    Age at last birthday as reported by the ARA was recorded for all persons in the household in single years.


    Male or female as reported by the ARA.

    The survey followed international guidelines for collecting sex of household members. If, when collecting the household details, there was someone identified as a transgender or intersex person, the interviewer was instructed to request the ARA identify which sex the household member most closely identified as. If this could not be provided, the interviewer selected either male or female (alternating between them as they occur). In both cases the interviewer was requested to record a comment so that the frequency of these occurrences could be determined. There were a small number of people who were identified as being transgender via these comments.

    Registered marital status

    Registered marital status was recorded as reported by the ARA for persons aged 18 years and over, in the following categories:
    • Never married
    • Widowed
    • Divorced
    • Separated
    • Married in a registered marriage

    Social marital status

    Social marital status was derived for persons aged 18 years and over, and was classified as:
    • Married - if living with another person in a couple relationship, which was reported as either a registered marriage or a de facto marriage. Included are persons living with a person of the same sex in a couple relationship.
    • Not married - if not living with another person in a couple relationship. Includes persons living alone, with other family members, or in shared accommodation. Includes persons in a registered or de facto marriage whose partners are not usually resident in the household.

    Country of birth

    Country of birth (COB) was collected on the household form as reported by the ARA.

    Each respondent (and their current partner, where applicable) has been classified to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 2016 (cat. no. 1269.0); a hierarchical classification based on the concept of geographic proximity. Standard output for this classification is discussed in Appendix 2: ABS Standard Classifications of this User Guide.

    Year of arrival in Australia

    Year of arrival in Australia was collected for each person in the household who was reported as having a country of birth other than Australia. The year specified was the year they first arrived in Australia to live for a period of one year or more. Individual year of arrival was recorded and can be grouped as required for output for the respondent (and their current partner, where applicable).

    Family type

    Family type enables the differentiation of families based on the presence or absence of couple relationships, parent-child relationships, child dependency relationships, or other familial relationships. The 'family type' of a particular family is defined through assessment of certain relationships that exist between a family reference person and each other member of that family. Family type is allocated based on whether the types of relationships described below are present or not, in the following order of precedence:
    • Couple relationship — a registered or de facto marriage.
    • Parent-child relationship — a relationship between two persons usually resident in the same household. The child is attached to the parent through a natural, adoptive, step, foster or child dependency relationship (see below for more information).
    • Child dependency relationship — all children under the age of 15 years (whether related or unrelated to the family reference person) and those natural, adopted, step or foster children who are full-time students aged 15-24 years.
    • Other relationships — all people related by blood or by marriage who are not covered by the above described relationships.

    Definition of partner

    The term ‘partner’ in the PSS is used to describe a person the respondent currently lives with, or lived with at some point in a married or de facto relationship.

    For the purposes of the PSS current and previous partner have been defined as follows:
    • Current partner: the person the respondent currently lives with in a married or de facto relationship
    • Previous partner: a person the respondent lived with at some point in a married or de facto relationship from whom the respondent is now separated

    Note: While respondents may consider a partner to be current, for the purposes of this survey if their current partner is someone they have lived with, but no longer lives with they are defined as a previous partner and are output as part of previous partner content. Demographic details of the respondent's current partner are collected for the current partner they are living with at the time of the survey only.


    Household type

    Households are allocated a household type based on the following:
    • The number of families identified in a household and whether unrelated household members are present in a family household
    • In a non-family household, whether the number of household members is greater than one

    Family composition of household

    The family composition of household was determined for all persons who usually lived in, and the relationships between the persons within, the household. These included:
    • Couple family with dependent children only
    • Couple family with dependent children and other persons
    • One parent family with dependent children only
    • One parent family with dependent children and other persons
    • Couple only
    • Other one family households
    • Multiple family households with dependent children
    • Multiple family households with no dependent children
    • Lone person household
    • Group household

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


    Data from the 2016 PSS can be output with specific geographies from the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), July 2011. In addition, the Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage is available.

    Note there are limits to the extent to which survey data can be compiled for detailed geographies, particularly those with smaller populations. The ability of the survey to provide reliable estimates is dependent upon factors such as the number of persons sampled within a particular area and the level of disaggregation required (that is, the number of variables cross-classified/level of detail required for each variable).

    In addition it should be remembered that the male sample was developed to produce reliable national estimates, whereas the female sample was developed to produce reliable state/territory/national estimates. Therefore the ability to use more detailed geography will be limited by the sample design as well as the achieved sample.

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

    State or territory of usual residence

    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:
    • New South Wales (NSW)
    • Victoria (VIC)
    • Queensland (QLD)
    • South Australia (SA)
    • Western Australia (WA)
    • Tasmania (TAS)
    • Northern Territory (NT)
    • Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

    Greater Capital City Statistical Area Structure

    Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSAs) represent the socio-economic extent of each of the eight state and territory capital cities. They include the people who regularly socialise, shop or work within the city, but live in the small towns and rural areas surrounding the city.

    Each of the states and territories may be classified into two parts, based on the household's location:
    • Capital city
    • Balance of state — elsewhere in the state

    The ACT is not divided into parts and is classified as 'capital city'.

    Remoteness Areas

    The Remoteness Areas (RAs) divide Australia into broad geographic regions that share common characteristics of remoteness for statistical purposes. The Remoteness Structure divides each state and territory into several regions on the basis of their relative access to services. There are six classes of RA in the Remoteness Structure: Major Cities of Australia, Inner Regional Australia, Outer Regional Australia, Remote Australia, Very Remote Australia and Migratory. RAs are based on the Accessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) produced by the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre at the University of Adelaide.

    For the PSS, only the first four remoteness areas are available. Persons in very remote areas are not represented due to not being part of the sample.

    Section of State

    Section of State (SOS) represents areas of concentrated urban development. They consist of Statistical Areas Level 1 (SA1s) aggregated together to form regions defined according to population density and other criteria. The structure defines Urban Centres and rural Bounded Localities.

    Section of state is based on the population count from the 2011 Census Collection District in which the household is located. The different sections are:
    • Major urban — more than 100,000 population
    • Other urban — 1,000 to 99,999 population
    • Bounded locality — 200 to 999 population
    • Rural balance — remainder of state/territory population

    Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)

    From information collected in the Census of Population and Housing, the ABS has developed a suite of indexes to allow ranking of regions/areas. The indexes provide a method for determining the level of social and economic well-being in an area, with each one summarising a different aspect of the socio-economic conditions. The PSS includes one measure based on the 2011 Census:
    • Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage

    The item used for PSS is calculated at the national level, with the index output as a score, and in deciles. For this 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. The PSS provides the index using SA1 as a base area. For more details on SEIFA refer to Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia, 2011 (cat no. 2033.0.55.001).