4159.0 - General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/12/2003   
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December 18, 2003
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
New survey reports on a wide range of aspects of life in Australia

A profile of the socioeconomic characteristics of Australia's adult population was released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The report, based on the 2002 General Social Survey, presents data on a range of social dimensions of the Australian community, including aspects of social attachment and multiple advantage and disadvantage.

Some of the main findings were:
  • Of Australia's 14,503,000 adults (people aged 18 years or more), 95% had at least weekly contact with family or friends they are not living with. This level of contact varied little across age groups or between men and women.
  • Most adults (94%) felt that in a time of crisis they could get support from people outside of their household, with support coming mainly from family (88% of those who could get support) and friends (70%), but also from neighbours, work colleagues, and community, government and professional organisations.
  • There were 141,500 couples (283,000 people) where one or both partners had children under 15 years of age living away from them. There were a further 226,000 people without a partner living with them that had absent children under 15 years old. Over 90% of the people with children of this age living away from them were providing some form of financial or other support for those children.
  • Just over one-third (34%) of adults undertook voluntary work in the 12 months prior to the survey, with the rate of volunteering highest in the 35 to 44 years age group. Volunteering rates were lower in major cities than elsewhere.
  • More than half (57%) of adults experienced at least one potentially stressful situation involving either themselves or someone close to them in the year prior to interview. The most common potentially stressful situations reported were: serious illness (21%); death (20%); inability to obtain a job (14%); divorce or separation (11%); mental illness (8%); and alcohol or other drug related problems (8%).
  • There were 445,000 adults living in one family households with children under the age of 15 years that had no employed adult. These adults reported much higher levels of financial stress than those living in households with an employed adult. For example, 58% reported that their households could not raise $2,000 in a week for something important (compared with 14% in households where there was someone employed).
  • Most children under 15 years of age (97%) lived in one family households. Within these households 548,000 children (14%) were living without an employed adult present. Of these children, 63% were living in one parent families.
  • Of all adults, 9% reported being the victim of physical or threatened violence in the last 12 months, while 11% had been victims of actual or attempted break-ins during the same period.
  • The majority of Australian adults (84%) considered themselves to be in good, very good or excellent health. The proportion of people reporting fair or poor health generally increased with age, from 7% of those in the 18-24 and 25-34 years age groups to 38% of those aged 75 years or over. Approximately 40% reported a disability or long-term health condition with the rate again increasing with age.

Further details are in General Social Survey, Summary Results, Australia, 2002 (cat. no. 4159.0). A set of tables will also be available in January 2004 for each state and territory via this web site.