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 employment was also collected.


  • Employed persons were those aged 18 years and over who reported that in the preceding week to the interview they had worked in a job, business or farm, or had a job but were absent during that week.
  • Unemployed persons were those aged 18 years and over who were not employed in the reference week and actively looked for work some time during the previous four weeks and were available to start, or waiting to start within the following four weeks.

The following persons were excluded from the definition of being employed persons and were classified under the category of unemployed:
  • Persons who usually work less than 1 hour or
  • Persons who have unpaid volunteer or trainee work arrangements

Persons not in the labour force were those aged 18 and over who were not employed or unemployed, as defined above.

For the majority of employment related items, data relates to the respondent's main job. For respondents who had more than one job at the time of the interview, main job was defined as the paid job in which they usually worked the most hours.


Information from the selected respondents (and their current partner, where applicable) was collected using the short-form version of the questions used in the ABS Monthly Labour Force Survey.

Respondents were requested to provide as much employment details about their current partner as possible. However, where ‘don’t know’ or ‘refusals’ were provided for any employment details of the current partner, they were output to ‘Not known/Refusal’ for these data items. Current partners were not approached to provide their own details.

Labour force status

The labour force full-time/part-time status item is categorised as:
  • Employed working full-time (if usually work 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs))
  • Employed working part-time (if usually worked one hour to less than 35 hours a week (in all jobs))
  • Unemployed, looking for full-time work (actively seeking full-time work in last 4 weeks)
  • Unemployed, looking for part-time work (actively seeking part-time work in last 4 weeks)
  • Not in the labour force

Working arrangements

This question refers to the working or payment arrangements of the respondent in their current main job. The response categories collected were:
  • Unpaid voluntary work
  • Unpaid trainee work
  • Contractor/sub-contractor
  • Own business or partnership
  • Commission only
  • Commission with retainer
  • Family business without pay
  • Payment in kind
  • Paid by the piece or item produced
  • Wage/salary earner
  • Other

The output data item does not include unpaid voluntary work or unpaid trainee work, as people who respond to these categories are not considered employed.

Hours worked

Refers to reported hours usually worked (in all jobs) per week by the selected respondent. Hours in single units are recorded and are available for output. Standard groupings of hours are:
  • 1-15 hours
  • 16-24 hours
  • 25-34 hours
  • 35-39 hours
  • 40 hours
  • 41-48 hours
  • 49 hours or more

Duration of unemployment

Persons who were unemployed at the time of the survey, were asked to provide the date they began looking for work, and date they last worked in a job. Dates can be specified in one of the following ways:
  • Less than 2 years, the exact date (day/month/year)
  • 2 to less than 5 years, the month/year
  • 5 years or more, the year

Duration of job search refers to the period of time from when a person began looking for work (or ceased employment) to the date of interview. For persons who began looking for work while still employed, the item refers to the period from the time the person last worked until the date of interview.

The item ‘Duration of job search’ is output as both a continuous variable, measured in completed weeks and a categorical variable, grouped into the following periods:
  • Under 2 weeks
  • 2 weeks and under 4 weeks
  • 4 weeks and under 8 weeks
  • 8 weeks and under 13 weeks
  • 13 weeks and under 26 weeks
  • 26 weeks and under 52 weeks
  • 52 weeks and under 104 weeks
  • 104 weeks and over

Information on 'Number of weeks since last worked' was also available separately for selected respondents classified as unemployed.


The data items and related output categories for this topic are contained within the SPS Level – Employment 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 labour force and 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 labour force statistics. This data should only be used in conjunction with other data related to experiences of violence collected in this survey.


Points to be considered in interpreting for this topic include the following:
  • Details on the labour force status 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 employment details. 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 labour force status 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.
  • Information about employment was obtained from selected respondents and their current partner (where applicable) aged 18 years and over using a short-form version of the questions used in the ABS Monthly Labour Force Survey. Use of the reduced set of questions may have resulted in small differences in classification of labour force status and full-time/part-time employment, compared with the results that would have been derived had the full standard question module be used.
  • The labour force data collected in this survey is not designed to produce estimates about labour force in the population. The labour force data produced should therefore only be used in conjunction with other violence prevalence data.


Labour force in the 2016 PSS is considered to be generally comparable with the Women's Safety Survey 1996 and the 2005 and 2012 PSS. However note that prior to 2012 people who worked less than 1 hour were classified as employed, whereas from 2012 onwards they are classified as unemployed or not in the labour force.

Note: Care should be taken when making comparisons with the 2016 items 'duration of unemployment' and 'time since last worked'. This is due to PSS now asking for when the respondent last worked, whereas in 1996, 2005 and 2012, PSS collected data for when the respondent last worked for 2 weeks or more.