TableBuilder: Household use of information technology

This product provides data on household and personal use of information technology in Australia


This guide provides information about the release of microdata on the Household Use of Information Technology (HUIT), from the ABS' 2010–11 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS). The MPHS is conducted each year throughout Australia from July to June and is designed to provide annual statistics for a number of small, self–contained topics.

Microdata are the most detailed information available from a survey and are generally the responses to individual questions on the questionnaire or data derived from two or more questions. They are released with the approval of the Australian Statistician.

This guide should be used as a reference document when accessing the microdata as it explains the data content, technical details and the conditions of use.

Available products

Microdata for the HUIT topic are available through the TableBuilder product – an online tool for creating tables and graphs that can be accessed from the ABS website.

Further information about TableBuilder and about microdata in general is available from the Microdata Entry Page on the ABS website.

Users wishing to access the HUIT TableBuilder are required to apply online using the ABS MiCRO system. All users are required to agree to the terms and conditions of use before access can be granted. To apply for access click the link below:

Apply for Microdata

Data available on request

Some data collected in the survey may not be included on the TableBuilder file but may be available on request, on a fee–for–service basis. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, special tabulations can be produced incorporating data items, populations and geographic areas, selected to meet individual requirements. Contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or for further information.

Survey methodology

General information about the 2010–11 MPHS HUIT topic, including summary results, are available in the publication Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2010-11 (cat. no. 8146.0). All summary tables, in Excel spreadsheet format, can be accessed from the HUIT Downloads page. Detailed information about the survey including scope and coverage, survey design, data collection methodology, weighting, benchmarking and estimation and the reliability of estimates can be accessed from the HUIT Explanatory Notes page.

File structure

The 2010–11 MPHS asked 21,309 respondents across Australia about their Household Use of IT in the 12 months before enumeration in the survey. Respondents were asked a range of questions about their access to and use of computers and the internet.

Responses to each of these questions, along with a range of socio–demographic data are included on the TableBuilder file. This microdata has been allocated to one of two levels:

  1. Socio–demographic and HUIT Person Level Data Items
  2. HUIT Household Level Data Items

The Socio–demographic and HUIT Person Level contains characteristic data about each respondent including their age, sex, marital status, employment, education and personal income. This level also has some information about the households in which they live including the number of children present aged less than 15 and the overall household income. There is also data about person level computer use such as whether the Internet was used to order goods or services. In addition, the Socio-demographic and HUIT Person Level includes broad locational data items such as the respondent's state or territory of usual residence.

The HUIT Household Level contains data about the household including whether a household has access to a computer and a household's type of Internet access service.

The following image shows the levels including the sub–categories under which the individual data items have been grouped. A complete data item list can be accessed from the Data downloads section.

Data item sub-categories groups.

Using TableBuilder

For general information relating to TableBuilder or instructions on how to use features of the TableBuilder product, please refer to the User Manual: TableBuilder (cat. no. 1406.0.55.005).

More specific information relevant to the HUIT TableBuilder, which should enable users to understand, interpret and tabulate the data, is outlined below.

Counting units and weights

Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total population. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each person. The weight is the value that indicates how many population units are represented by the sample unit.

Estimates of both persons and households can be obtained when using the HUIT TableBuilder. The weight determines the unit of measure. It is therefore critical the correct weight (or 'summation option') is used when specifying tables. The following image shows the available Summation Options.

Screen shot of weights available on the file.

Generally, the Socio–demographic and HUIT Person Level relates to people so a person weight is attached to this level in the Summation Options. The HUIT Household Level relates to households so a household weight is attached to this level.

The default weight when producing any table using the HUIT TableBuilder is the person weight (in bold in the image above). This weight is automatically applied to any table being generated. A weight in bold, such as in the image above, indicates the weight being used in the table. This weight can be changed through Summation Options. Placing a tick in a 'Sum' tick box and then adding it to a row or column in the table will select a different weight.

While the default is person weight, if it is not shown in bold it can be selected through Summation Options. To estimate the number of persons with certain characteristics (e.g. 'Activities of Internet access at home') the weight listed under the category heading Socio–demographic and HUIT Person Level must be used. To specifically select a person weight through Summation Options:

  1. Click on the blue triangle 'twistie' next to the Summation Options line
  2. Ensure all 'Sum' tick boxes are blank
  3. Click on the Socio–demographic and HUIT Person Level 'twistie'
  4. Click on the Person Weight 'twistie'
  5. Click on the Sum tick box
  6. Add the person weights to your table by clicking on add to row or add to column

To estimate the number of households with certain characteristics (e.g. 'Main type of broadband Internet access') the weight listed under the category heading HUIT Household Level must be used. The same process as above can be followed, ticking the 'Sum' tick box under the HUIT Household Level 'twistie' instead.

The weights that should be used for each data item are shown in the data item list, which can be accessed from the Data downloads section.

Selecting data items for cross-tabulation

Apart from the Field Exclusion Rules that are applied in TableBuilder, there are minimal restrictions as to the items that can be selected to appear in a table. That is, generally users are able to cross–tabulate any variable with any other variable on the file. However, often the resulting table is not logical. For example, 'Type of security software' by 'Home access to a computer' cross–tabulates an item from HUIT Person Level with an item from HUIT Household Level which has no meaningful connection.

The following table summarises which variables should and should not be cross–tabulated.

 Socio–demographic and HUIT Person Level Data ItemsHUIT Person LevelHUIT Household Level
Socio–demographic and HUIT Person Level Data Items
Exception: Index of relative socio-economic index disadvantage – Deciles
Household Demographics
Labour Force
Household Income
Personal Income
HUIT Person LevelSee column 2X
HUIT Household LevelSee column 3X

Field exclusion rules

To ensure confidentiality, TableBuilder prevents the cross-tabulation of certain variables which could result in respondents being identified. These are known as field exclusion rules. If field exclusion rules exist for certain variables, users will see the following message: “Maximum number of fields in exclusion group exceeded.”

Table populations

Table populations or units of measure can be found by looking at the 'Counting' subheading (see example below).

HUIT estimates are available at the person and household level via summation options in Table Builder.

Adjustment of cell values

The TableBuilder dataset has random adjustment of cell values applied to avoid the release of identifiable data. All cells in a table are adjusted to prevent any identifiable data being exposed. For this dataset 'additivity' has not been applied, that is, when the interior cells are randomly adjusted they have not been set to add up to the totals. As a result, randomly adjusted individual cells will be consistent across tables, but the totals in any table will not be the sum of the individual cell values.

Zero value cells

Tables generated from sample surveys will sometimes contain cells with zero values because no respondents that satisfied the parameters of the cell were in the survey. This is despite there being people in the population with those characteristics. That is, the cell may have had a value above zero if all persons in scope of the survey had been enumerated. This is an example of sampling variability which occurs with all sample surveys. Relative Standard Errors cannot be generated for zero cells. Whilst the tables may include cells with zero values, the ABS does not publish such zero estimates and recommends that Table Builder clients do not use these data either.

Multi-response data items

A number of the survey's data items allow respondents to report more than one response. These are referred to as 'multi–response data items'. An example of such a data item is pictured below. For this data item, respondents can report all of the activities they undertake using the Internet at home.

Illustrates multi-response data items.

When a multi–response data item is tabulated, a person is counted against each response they have provided (e.g. a person who responds 'emailing' and 'social networking and on-line gaming' and 'educational purposes' will be counted once in each of these three categories).

As a result, each person in the appropriate population is counted at least once, and some persons are counted multiple times. Therefore, the total for a multi–response data item will be less than or equal to the sum of its components. Multi–response data items can be identified by the initials 'MR' in the data item list, which can be accessed from the Data downloads section. In the example below, the sum of the components is 83,938,000, where as the total population is 17,735,500.

Illustrates how the total for a multi response data item is reported.

Not applicable categories

Most data items include a 'not applicable' category. The 'not applicable' category comprises those respondents who were not asked a particular question(s) and hence are not applicable to the population to which the data item refers. In the example above, 4,380,200 people did not access the Internet at home and therefore are not applicable to the data item. The classification value of the 'not applicable' category, where relevant, is shown in the data item list (see the data item list in the Data downloads section).

Data item list

A complete list of all data items included on the Household Use of Information Technology TableBuilder file is provided in an Excel spreadsheet that can be accessed from the Data downloads section. The population applicable to each data item is also shown. Multi–response data items can be identified by the initials 'MR'.

Users intending to purchase the TableBuilder product should ensure the data they require, and the level of detail required, are available and applicable for the intended use.

Condtions of use

User responsibilites

The Census and Statistics Act includes a legislative guarantee to respondents that their confidentiality will be protected. This is fundamental to the trust the Australian public has in the ABS, and that trust is in turn fundamental to the excellent quality of ABS information. Without that trust, survey respondents may be less forthcoming or truthful in answering ABS questionnaires. For more information, see 'Avoiding inadvertent disclosure' and 'Microdata' on our web page How the ABS keeps your information confidential.

CURF data

The release of the CURF data is authorised by Clause 7 of the Statistics Determination made under subsection 13(1) of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. The release of a CURF must satisfy the ABS legislative obligation to release information in a manner that is not likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation.

This legislation allows the Australian Statistician to approve release of unit record data. All CURFs released have been approved by the Statistician. Prior to being granted access to CURFs, each organisation's Responsible Officer must submit a CURF Undertaking to the ABS. The CURF Undertaking is required by legislation and states that, prior to CURFs being released to an organisation, a Responsible Officer must undertake to ensure that the organisation will abide by the conditions of use of CURFs. Individual users are bound by the undertaking signed by the Responsible Officer.

All CURF users are required to read and abide by the conditions and restrictions in the User Manual: Responsible Use of ABS CURFs. Any breach of the CURF Undertaking may result in withdrawal of service to individuals and/or organisations. Further information is contained in the Consequences of Failing to Comply web page.


In accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, data in TableBuilder are subjected to a confidentiality process before release. The release of microdata must satisfy the ABS legislative obligation to release information in a manner that is not likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation.

This confidentiality process is applied to avoid releasing information that may lead to the identification of individuals, families, households, dwellings or businesses.

Prior to being granted access to TableBuilder, users must agree to the following ABS Terms and Conditions of TableBuilder Access:

  • understand that the ABS has taken great care to ensure that the information on the survey output record file is correct and as accurate as possible and understand that ABS does not guarantee, or accept any legal liability whatsoever arising from, or connected to, the use of any material contained within, or derived from TableBuilder
  • understand that all data extracted from the Survey Output Record File through TableBuilder will be confidentialised prior to being supplied and that as a result, no reliance should be placed on small cells as they are impacted by random adjustment, respondent and processing errors
  • users inform the ABS, through their Contact Officer, upon leaving their organisation that your access is disabled
  • not to provide their TableBuilder user ID and password access to any other person or organisation.

Conditions of sale

All ABS products and services are provided subject to the ABS Conditions of Sale. Any queries relating to these Conditions of Sale should be referred to


Microdata access is priced according to the ABS Pricing Policy and Commonwealth Cost Recovery Guidelines. For details refer to ABS Pricing Policy on the ABS website. For microdata prices refer to the Microdata prices web page.

How to apply for access

Clients wishing to access the microdata should read the How to Apply for Microdata web page. Clients should familiarise themselves with the User Manual: Responsible Use of ABS CURFs and other related microdata information which are available via the Microdata web pages, before applying for access.

Australian universities

The ABS/Universities Australia Agreement provides participating universities with access to a range of ABS products and services. This includes access to microdata. For further information, university clients should refer to the ABS/Universities Australia Agreement web page.

Further information

The Microdata Entry page on the ABS website contains links to microdata related information to assist users to understanding and access microdata. For further information users should email or telephone (02) 6252 7714.

Data downloads

Data item list

Definitions and quality

The publication Household Use of Information Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8146.0) includes a list of the Abbreviations used in the microdata for the HUIT topic. The publication also includes a Glossary containing definitions of selected terms.

Quality declaration

Institutional environment







Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 8146.0.55.002.

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