Selected households were initially sent a Primary Approach Letter (PAL) by mail to inform the household of their selection in the survey and to advise that an Interviewer would call to arrange a suitable time to conduct the interview. A brochure, providing some background to the survey, information concerning the interview process, and a guarantee of confidentiality was included with the letter. For a small number of households where the ABS did not have an adequate postal address, this was not possible.
On first face-to-face contact with the household by an Interviewer, general characteristics of the household were obtained from a responsible adult member of the household (any responsible adult - ARA). This information included basic demographic characteristics of all usual residents of the dwelling (e.g. age and sex) and the relationships between household members (e.g. spouse, son/daughter, not related).
From the information provided by the ARA regarding household composition, the survey instrument identified those persons in scope of the survey and randomly selected one person aged 18 years or more to be included in the survey. A personal interview was conducted with the randomly selected person. If the random person lived with one or both parents, a parent may have been selected to be the household spokesperson and provide some information about the household (e.g. financial stress, household income and assets and liabilities). If the dwelling contained no usual residents aged 18 years or more, the dwelling was not enumerated.
In some instances selected adult respondents were unable to answer for themselves because of old age, illness, intellectual disability or difficulty with the English language. In these cases, a person responsible for them was interviewed on their behalf, provided the Interviewer was assured that this was acceptable to the subject person. Where there were language difficulties, another person in the household may have acted as an interpreter if this was suggested by the respondent. If not, arrangements were made where possible for the interview to be conducted either by an ABS Interviewer fluent in the respondent’s own language or with an ABS interpreter.
In order to obtain a personal interview with appropriate respondents, Interviewers made appointments to call-back as necessary to the household. In some cases appointments for callbacks were made by telephone; however, all interviews were conducted face-to-face. Interviews may have been conducted in private or in the presence of other household members according to the wishes of the respondent.
In cases where a respondent initially refused to participate in the survey, a follow-up letter was sent and a second visit was made to the respondent, usually by a supervisor, to explain the aims and importance of the survey and to answer any particular concerns the respondent may have had about the interview. Persons excluded from the survey through non-contact or refusal were not replaced in the sample.
On average, the interview took 50 minutes per fully responding household.