4159.0 - General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/09/2011   
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This publication presents summary results from the third General Social Survey conducted from August to November 2010. The survey collected information from 15,028 adults aged 18 years and over living in private dwellings across Australia, excluding very remote areas.

The GSS is a multidimensional social survey providing information on a wide range of key areas of concern for Australians (see Data Items List in the User's Guide). It helps to build a picture of the social characteristics of the population and allows for better understanding of the relationships between different aspects of life and how these affect people, including the exploration of multiple advantage and disadvantage.


The 2010 GSS builds on the previous surveys conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2002 and 2006. Information on the comparability of these three surveys is provided in the Explanatory Notes. More detailed information is also provided in the User's Guide, planned for release on the ABS website in October 2011.


ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued co-operation is appreciated - without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.



The key findings from each broad topic group in the 2010 GSS include:

Population characteristics

  • Four in five adults living in Australia were born in either Australia or another main English-speaking country;
  • In 2010 59% of adults had a non-school qualification, up from 50% in 2002.

Health and overall life satisfaction
  • Most adults living in Australia rated their health as good, very good or excellent (83%);
  • Most adults were at least 'mostly satisfied' with their lives (78%) with 43% being pleased or delighted with their lives;
  • Adults who had little or no contact with family and friends living outside their household, and those who were divorced or separated, were least likely to be satisfied with their lives.

Work and family life
  • Most employed adults with family and community commitments (92%) had access to employment conditions, such as paid leave, that they could access to meet their family and community obligations.

Community involvement and volunteering
  • 6.1 million adults (36%) in Australia had undertaken some form of voluntary work in the year prior to the survey;
  • Volunteering was less common in major cities (34%) than elsewhere (42% in inner regional, 41% in other areas).

Social networks, support and trust
  • Almost all adults (97%) had some form of contact with friends or family outside their immediate household in the week prior to the survey;
  • In 2010, mobile phone and SMS style communication (84%) had overtaken fixed phone (83%) as the most common way for people to contact friends and family;
  • Use of Internet facilities such as email and chat rooms to contact friends and family has increased significantly, from 47% of adults in 2006 to 60% in 2010;
  • Generally people trusted their doctor (89%), local police (75%) and hospitals (73%) and agreed that it is 'a good thing for a society to be made up of people from different cultures' (80%).

Crime and safety
  • The majority of people (85%) felt safe or very safe at home alone after dark although less than half (48%) felt safe or very safe walking alone in their local area at night;
  • Women were much less likely (29%) than men (68%) to feel safe walking alone at night;
  • 70% of people reported at least one type of social disorder problem in their local area - particularly dangerous or noisy driving;
  • In 2010, 23% of men aged 18 to 24 years reported having been a victim of physical or threatened violence in the previous 12 months down from 31% in 2006.

Access to services
  • In 2010 30% of adults experienced problems accessing some type of service provider;
  • The most commonly reported services that people had trouble accessing were telecommunications (11%) and doctors (10%).

Financial stress and income
  • In 2010 19% of adults reported living in a household that had one or more cash flow problems in the 12 months prior to interview;
  • 41% of adults in one family lone parent households reported that their household could not raise $2,000 in an emergency compared to 11% of adults in one family couple households with dependent children;
  • In 2010 84% of adults lived in households that had undertaken some form of financial resilience action, such as paying extra off credit cards or mortgages or following a budget in the previous year. Adults in the highest income quintile were more likely (94%) to have taken such actions than were adults in lowest quintile (69%).

Housing mobility and homelessness
  • Approximately 7 million adults (42%) had moved house in the 5 years prior to the survey;
  • Young people, renters and unemployed people were the most likely to move;
  • 4.6 million people (27%) reported that, for a wide range of reasons, they had been without a permanent place to live at some time in their lives. Reasons included recently moving to a new town, relationship breakdowns and financial problems.

Transport and IT use
  • In 2010 the majority of adults living Australia (87%) had access to a motor vehicle and could easily get to places they needed to go (84%);
  • In 2010 more people used computers (80%) and accessed the Internet (77%) at home than had in 2002 (55% and 43% respectively).