6553.0 - Survey of Income and Housing, User Guide, Australia, 2013-14  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/09/2015   
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Interview procedures

Trained ABS interviewers were used to collect Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) data. They were given comprehensive training and were provided with detailed written instructions to complement the survey documents.
Information for each household was collected using:

  • a household level computer assisted personal interview questionnaire which collected information on household characteristics, housing costs, and certain assets and liabilities for all households; and
  • an individual level computer assisted personal interview questionnaire which collected information on income, certain assets and liabilities, and personal characteristics from each usual resident aged 15 years and over in all households.
Interviewers made an initial contact visit, in which they obtained information on the numbers and characteristics of people usually resident in the dwelling. If a responsible adult was not available, the interviewer called back at another time. The interviewer also arranged a convenient time to call back to conduct the interviews.
During the actual survey interview, the interviewer:
  • completed one household questionnaire for each household (information was provided by a household spokesperson who was nominated as the best person to provide information on the financial situation of the household);
  • completed an individual questionnaire for each usual resident aged 15 years and over; and
  • completed a proxy interview when the parent/guardian of children in the household aged 15–17 years, did not give permission for them to be personally interviewed, or when a person was incapable of answering on their own behalf.
If the usual resident could not be present for the interview, additional interviews were arranged to ensure that all usual residents were covered by the survey.

Data collection instruments

A representation of the computer-assisted interview (CAI) questionnaires used in the SIH can be downloaded as separate PDF files available from the 'Downloads' tab of this publication.


For details of the data items available from the 2013–14 SIH see the Excel spreadsheet available as a data cube available from the 'Downloads' tab of this publication.


Data processing methods

Computer based systems were used to collect and process the data from the 2013–14 SIH with a software program known as BLAISE. A variety of methods were employed to process and edit the data, reflecting the different questionnaires used to collect data from the household and individual components of the surveys. These processes are outlined below:

Coding and input editing of household and individual questionnaires

Internal system edits were applied in the CAI questionnaires to ensure the completeness and consistency of the responses being provided. The interviewer could not proceed from one section of the interview to the next until responses had been appropriately completed.

A number of range and consistency edits were programmed into the CAI questionnaire. Edit messages automatically appeared on the screen if the information entered was either outside the permitted range for a particular question, or contradicted information already recorded. These edit queries were resolved on the spot with respondents.

Data from the CAI questionnaires were electronically loaded to the processing database on receipt in the ABS office in each state or territory. Office checks were made to ensure data for all relevant questions were fully accounted for and that returns for each household and respondent were obtained. Problems identified by interviewers were resolved by office staff, where possible, based on other information contained in the schedule, or on the comments provided by interviewers.

Computer-assisted coding was performed on responses to questions on country of birth, occupation and industry of employment to ensure completeness. Data on relationships between household members were used to delineate families and income units within the household, and to classify households and income units by type.

Additional editing

A range of edits was also applied to the household and individual information to double check that logical sequences had been followed in the questionnaires; that specific values lay within expected ranges; and that relationships between items were consistent. Unusually high values (termed statistical outliers) were investigated to determine whether there had been errors in entering the data and corrections were made where necessary.

Imputation for missing records and values

Some households did not supply all the required information but supplied sufficient principal information to be retained in the sample. Such partial responses occur when:
  • income or other data in a questionnaire are missing from one or more non-significant person's records because they are unable or unwilling to provide the data,
  • all key questions are answered by the significant person(s) but other questions are not answered, and
In these cases of partial response above, the data provided are retained and the missing data are imputed by replacing each missing value with a value reported by another person with similar characteristics, referred to as the 'donor'.

Donor records are randomly selected by finding fully responding persons with matching information on multiple characteristics, such as state, sex, age, labour force status and income, as the person with missing information. As far as possible, the imputed information is an appropriate proxy for the information that is missing. Depending on which values are to be imputed, donors are randomly chosen from the pool of individual records with complete information for the block of questions where the missing information occurs.

The final SIH sample includes 5,613 households which had at least one imputed value in income, assets and liabilities, or child care expenses. For 40% of these households only a single module was missing data.


Modelled data items

Some data items of interest cannot reliably be collected from respondents, and some cannot be collected at all. However, it is sometimes possible to utilise other information provided by respondents as a basis for estimating the data items of interest. This process is referred to as modelling.

Income tax and the Medicare levy

Disposable income is calculated by deducting income tax, including the Medicare levy, from gross income.

The model is based on the liability rules described in the Tax Pack from the Australian Tax Office for the year concerned, the income reported by respondents, and other characteristics of household members reported in the survey.
Estimates of income tax are modelled, rather than collected from respondents, for a number of reasons including:
  • An accruals approach is taken to estimating these items. The estimates relate to the tax liability being incurred with respect to the income being reported by the respondent in the survey. For estimates of current income, the current income tax liability is calculated as though the current income is the average income for the whole year. If actual income fluctuates during the year, respondents are unlikely to have an actual income tax assessment that is relevant to the required estimate.
  • In addition to income changes during the course of the year, full year income tax assessments may be affected by changes in family or other circumstances of the respondent which are not described in the survey, and are best ignored when deriving an income tax estimate to use with the other survey data.
  • Income tax assessments are only made after the end of the financial year, and therefore are not yet available at the time that current income is collected from respondents.
  • The income tax assessment of respondents may be affected by certain expenditures which they make, such as donations to charities or other particular circumstances which are not captured in the survey. For many purposes it is desirable to exclude the impact on tax liabilities of specific influences which are not captured in the survey.
  • The SIH provides sufficient relevant information to allow a relatively comprehensive tax model to be constructed.
The Medicare levy surcharge was also modelled and deducted from gross income in the calculation of disposable income.

For more information see the 'Income' section of this publication.

Family Tax Benefit

Family Tax Benefit (FTB) are received from the Family Assistance Office either as fortnightly payments, a lump sum after the end of the financial year, or a combination of both. Payments received as fortnightly payments, collected in the SIH were used in the derivation of 'Current weekly income from family tax benefits'. Components received in the form of lump sum payments are modelled using responses to the FTB questions relating to method of payment, as well as other demographic and income information. From the 2005–06 SIH onwards, income from FTB supplements has also been modelled.

Prior to 2005–06, the modelled components were not included in estimates of FTB and hence were not included as government pensions and allowances or in gross income. For practical reasons they were included as negative adjustments in the modelling of income tax. Therefore while not included in gross income, they were included in disposable income and equivalised disposable income.

Baby Bonus

Information on the Baby Bonus, formerly known as the Maternity Payment, was collected in the 2013–14 SIH for the current and previous financial year. Recipients of the Baby Bonus receive income for 26 weeks (in 13 instalments), and payments are made to all eligible recipients. Previous SIH cycles have modelled these data, however, in 2013–14 SIH the reported data was of sufficient quality to be output.

Paid Parental Leave

The Paid Parental Leave scheme was introduced from 1 January 2011. Under the Paid Parental Leave scheme, eligible working parents can get government-funded pay when they take time off from work to care for a newborn or recently adopted child. Full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, contract and self-employed workers may be eligible.

The Paid Parental Leave scheme provides two payments – Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay.

Parental Leave Pay provides eligible working parents (usually birth mothers) with up to 18 weeks pay at the rate of the national minimum wage. Full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, contract and self-employed workers may be eligible. Government-funded Parental Leave Pay is usually provided by employers to long-term employees in their usual pay cycle. Parents who do not receive Parental Leave Pay from their employer or who do not have an employer, receive the payments directly from Centrelink.

Dad and Partner Pay provides eligible working dads or partners with up to two weeks pay at the rate of the national minimum wage for children born or adopted from 1 January 2013. Full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, contract and self-employed workers may be eligible. Dads or partners have to be on unpaid leave or not working to receive the payment. The role of employers in Dad and Partner Pay is to provide unpaid leave so that their eligible employees can access it.

The Paid Parental Leave rate was $622.10 per week in 2013–14. This amount was allocated to those who reported receiving Paid Parental Leave. Paid Parental Leave is on a current income basis, while Dad and Partner Pay, due to its short-term nature, is output on an annualised basis, as per Schoolkids Bonus.

Pension Supplement, Seniors Supplement, and Utilities Allowance

The Pension Supplement and the Seniors Supplement were introduced on 20 September 2009. The Pension Supplement replaced Utilities, Telephone and Pharmaceutical allowances for recipients of Age Pension, Carer Payment, Wife Pension, Widow B Pension, Bereavement Allowance, Disability Support Pension, Parenting Payment and Service Pensions, as well as other income support payments if a person has reached Age Pension age.

The Seniors Concession Allowance and Telephone Allowance were combined into the Seniors Supplement which is targeted at self-funded retirees of Age Pension age who do not qualify for an Age Pension because of assets or income levels.

The Utilities Allowance was paid to recipients of the Widow Allowance and Partner Allowance who are under Age Pension age and to Disability Support Pension recipients younger than 21 years without children, to assist with the cost of utility bills.

Estimates for the Pension Supplement, Seniors Supplement, and Utilities Allowance were modelled in the 2013–14 SIH.

Clean Energy Supplement (CES)

The CES is a tax-exempt, indexed payment paid from March 2013 to pensioners, other income support recipients, families receiving Family Tax Benefit payments and Seniors Supplement recipients, provided they meet eligibility requirements.

The CES replaces the Clean Energy Advance (CEA).

Schoolkids bonus

The Schoolkids bonus is a biannual payment, paid in January and July for the period January 2013 to the end of 2016, to eligible families, carers and students to assist with education related costs of primary and secondary school students.

Payments are made to families and carers who have a child in primary or secondary study and receive one of the following payments in respect of that child: Family Tax Benefit Part A, Youth Allowance, Disability Support Pension, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Carer Payment, Parenting Payment, Special Benefit, Veterans’ Children Education Scheme, and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme.

Payments are made to students, under 20 years of age, who receive one of the following payments for themselves: Youth Allowance, Disability Support Pension. ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Carer Payment, Parenting Payment, Special Benefit, Veterans’ Children Education Scheme, and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme.

The Schoolkids Bonus replaced the Education Tax Refund. This payment is annualised over the financial year for all eligible households.

Child Care

Child Care Benefit (CCB) is a payment from the Australian Government that assists families with the costs of registered or approved child care. The scheme is means-tested and allocates an hourly amount that can either be remitted to child care consumers after child care has been paid, or paid directly to child care providers from the Government, therefore reducing the child care fees payable by the amount of the benefit.

Child Care Rebate (CCR) is also an Australian Government payment that, like CCB, assists families with the cost of child care. Unlike CCB, it is not a fixed hourly rate, but a refund of 50% of child care costs for up to 50 hours a week per child (after any rebates like CCB), up to a per child, per year limit ($7,500 per child per year in 2013–14). Families that are eligible for CCB (including if their entitlements amounts to zero) are automatically eligible for CCR.

Estimates of CCB and CCR are collected from the child care questions, however there has been a significant gap between the reported number of households receiving assistance and the total value of that assistance, compared to administrative records. In SIH 2013–14, CCB and CCR have been modelled to improve the estimates of these payments.

The modelled amounts of CCB and CCR are available at the household and income unit level.