Survey of Adult Skills in Australia

This is an important national survey that collections information about the key information processing skills needed by adults to participate in Australian society, and how these skills are used at home, at work and in the wider community.

Your participation is an opportunity to make a real difference. The information you provide will contribute to important decisions being made for your local area and the wider Australian community such as, assessing education and training programs, and developing policies and programs to support adults in improving their skills. The survey forms part of a wider, ongoing international study, allowing comparisons between Australia and other parts of the world, and to measure changes over time.

To find out more about this survey, please see our Frequently Asked Questions below. If you would like to know more about how the ABS is responding to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) please see how we are keeping the community safe during COVID-19


If you have been selected in this survey, this survey has been cancelled and your participation is no longer required. If you have any questions you can call us on 1800 022 973


Frequently Asked Questions

I've been chosen to be in the Survey of Adult Skills in Australia – what is this?
This is an important national survey that collects information about the key information processing skills needed for individuals to participate in society. It gathers information on how adults use their information processing, problem solving, literacy, numeracy, and other skills at home, at work, and in the wider community. The survey is conducted every 10 years to help measure skills, education, and training levels of the adult population over time.

How is the information from this survey used and why is it important?
Your participation in this survey is an opportunity to make a real difference. Results are used by governments, researchers and community groups to better understand the current skills and experiences of adults in Australia. The information you provide will contribute to assessing the effectiveness of education and training programs which provide the skills for adults to participate effectively in society. The information will also contribute to important decisions being made for your local area and the wider Australian Community to help ensure people have access to opportunities and learning pathways to enhance their skills.

By taking part, you can ensure that your experiences and circumstances become part of the story of life in Australia today and will help to shape policies and services which improve the lives of all Australians.

Why was my household selected?
Each year, we collect data about all aspects of life from thousands of households throughout Australia to better understand our population and future needs.

Rather than survey the whole population, we use a scientific sampling process designed to collect data which builds a picture that includes people from all areas of Australia. All households have a chance of being selected.

Once a household has been selected, another household cannot be substituted in its place, as changing the random selection could mean some parts of the community are under or overrepresented.

It is important that all selected households complete the survey in order to make sure the results represent the whole community. This means that decisions made about services provided by government, local councils, and community groups are made using the most accurate information.

Who in my household will be required to participate?
For the first part of the survey, you will need to choose someone to be your household representative who can answer some general questions about your household and the people who live there.

We will then randomly select one person (aged 16 to 65 years) to complete the rest of the survey at a time that is convenient for them. The main part of the survey will include questions about education and training, literacy, and numeracy practices at work and in everyday life, skills used at work, and use of information and communication technologies.

How do I complete the survey?
If you have been selected in this survey you will receive a letter in the mail that contains instructions on how you can start your survey by providing contact details so that an Interviewer can arrange a suitable time to conduct the survey with you in person. The survey will be conducted with an ABS Interviewer on an ABS authorised laptop.

For the first part of the survey, you will need to choose someone to be your household representative to answer some questions about your household and the people who live there.

Then, we will randomly select one person (aged 16 to 65 years) to complete the rest of the survey with an Interviewer at a convenient time for them.

We need to randomly select the person (rather than you choosing them) because we need a range of people with varied characteristics. Each selected person in the survey represents similar people in their local area.

If we don't hear from you an ABS Interviewer may visit your address to conduct the survey with you.

What kinds of questions will you ask?
This survey firstly collects some general information about everyone in the household and includes questions about age and sex.

We will then randomly select one person in your household to answer a range of questions about:
  • education and training;
  • literacy and numeracy practices at work and in everyday life;
  • skills used at work;
  • use of information and communication technologies.

How do I know the person contacting me is from the ABS?
If your household has been selected to participate in this survey, you will have received letters informing you about your selection. You can also call us on 1800 022 973 to confirm your selection.

For any personal visits, our staff will always identify themselves, show you their official ABS photo identification and clearly explain the information they are seeking and how this will be used.

You may receive calls from numbers that you are not familiar with including mobile phones or "unknown" numbers. This is because many of our Interviewers are teleworkers and use ABS authorised mobile phones and office phones to conduct interviews over the phone.

The ABS will NEVER ask you to provide or confirm your bank details or tax file number (TFN).

If you're concerned that a phone call, SMS, voicemail or email claiming to be from the ABS is not genuine, don't reply to it. Instead, call us on 1800 022 973 and we will verify your selection in the survey and the identity of the Interviewer who is contacting you.

Will I be paid for my time?
No. There is no provision within the Census and Statistics Act 1905 to reimburse people for providing statistical information. In line with other national statistical organisations throughout the world, individuals, businesses and other organisations are asked to supply information for statistical purposes without compensation. It is only with the support of people like you that we can continue to produce the statistics that inform Australia's important decisions.

What happens if there are people in my household who don't speak English?
Where possible, we can arrange for an ABS Interviewer who is fluent in the language of the householder to conduct the survey. If there is someone in the household who can translate, and the person selected to complete the survey agrees, they can help the Interviewer.

How will you keep my information safe, secure and confidential?
We take the security of the information you provide to us very seriously. Your information remains strictly confidential to the ABS and is not shared with other agencies. We use the information you provide to calculate statistics, which are released in ways that do not allow for the identification of individuals or households.

All ABS employees have signed a legally enforceable Undertaking of Fidelity and Security in which they agree to keep any information, including personal information which they may deal with in the course of their work, private and confidential. This agreement applies to ABS employees for the rest of their lives, even if they leave the ABS. The penalty for breaching this is two years jail, a $26,640 fine, or both.

We comply with the Australian Privacy Principles. If you believe we have breached these principles, please see the information on how to lodge a complaint about privacy matters, contained within our Privacy Policy.

Will the information I provide be combined with other data?
The information you provide may be combined with the information from other respondents to produce vital statistics about Australian households.

We often combine data from two or more sources because combining data helps fill the gaps - and saves you time. Combining data helps provide a clearer picture of Australia than what can be achieved by any one survey alone and creates new insights about our society and the economy. By reusing existing data, we reduce the need for Australian households and businesses to provide more information.

Governments, researchers and community groups will use this vital data to better understand the health and wellbeing of people in Australia. This helps to inform health programs, assess current policies and plan for the future.

Who can I contact for more information?
For more information about this survey, please call us on 1800 022 973 during business hours. For help outside these hours, please leave a message with your contact details and we will return your call as soon as possible.

Thank you
We acknowledge and value your time and commitment participating in this survey. It is only with the support of people like you that we can continue to produce the statistics that inform Australia's important decisions.

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