Background to the survey
In 2014, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) conducted the General Social Survey (GSS), a multi-dimensional social survey that covers many aspects of life. The GSS is designed to enable analysis of the interrelationships in social circumstances and outcomes, including the exploration of multiple signs of advantage and disadvantage. The survey includes information on people's health, family relationships, social and community involvement, education, employment, income and financial stress, assets and liabilities, housing and mobility, crime and safety, transport, attendance at culture and leisure venues, and sports attendance and participation.
The GSS collected information from March to June 2014 from 12,932 private dwellings throughout urban and rural areas in all Australian states and territories. The sample was designed to provide national and state level estimates, recognising state/territory responsibilities in many areas of social concern. Information was obtained from one person aged 15 years or over in the selected household.
The ABS was responsible for the development and conduct of the survey. As with all ABS surveys, extensive testing was carried out to ensure the survey would collect objective and high quality data.
Standard ABS interviewing techniques were used and the questionnaire was designed to be administered by experienced ABS interviewers, who had received specific training on this survey. The questionnaire was further supported by detailed interviewer instructions, covering general procedural issues as well as specific instructions relating to individual questions. As with all ABS surveys, standard ABS procedures (including office coding) and systems ensure the collection of objective and high quality data. The questionnaire is not fully indicative of the range of information available from the survey, as additional items were created in processing the data and ABS classifications were applied to raw data inputs. Furthermore, some questions were asked solely for the purpose of enabling or clarifying other questions, and are not available in survey results.
The 2014 GSS was conducted under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. The ABS sought the willing cooperation of households in the survey. The confidentiality of all information provided by respondents is guaranteed. Under its legislation, the ABS cannot release identifiable information about households or individuals. All aspects of the GSS implementation were designed to conform to Information Privacy Principles set out in the Privacy Act 1988, and the Privacy Commissioner was informed of the details of the proposed survey.
The success of the 2014 GSS was dependent on the high level of cooperation received from the community. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the range of social and other statistics published by the ABS would not be possible.
Using this publication
Appropriate use and interpretation of the GSS results relies on a knowledge of what information was collected, how it was collected and how the information was used to produce final estimates.
The Survey Content section includes a list of new, revised and removed data items for the 2014 GSS. A comprehensive list of survey data items are also available on the Data downloads section of the General Social Survey: Summary Results, 2014 (cat. no. 4159.0). Many data items available from the survey were derived from responses to a number of survey questions. The questionnaire and associated prompt cards used to collect the data are also available on the Data downloads section of the General Social Survey: Summary Results, 2014 (cat. no. 4159.0). Definitions and concepts used in the survey are detailed in this publication.