National Health Survey
Frequently Asked Questions
I've been chosen to be in the National Health Survey – what is this?
This is an important national survey that collects information about the health and wellbeing of people in Australia, including the prevalence of long-term health conditions, health risk factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, diet and physical activity; and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.
How is the information from this survey used and why is it important?
The results are used by government agencies, researchers, academics, clinicians and other health professionals in your community to:
The National Health Survey has been providing our community with vital information for measuring the health and wellbeing of people in Australia since 1977. By taking part, you can ensure that your health experiences and circumstances become part of the story of life in Australia today. The information you provide will contribute to important decisions being made for your local area and the wider Australian community.
Why was my household selected?
Each year, we collect data about all aspects of life from thousands of households and businesses throughout Australia in order to better understand our population and future needs. Households from every state and territory are selected at random to participate in this survey.
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. Everyone has a chance of being selected for this important national survey.
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 over represented.
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 this survey, one household representative will be asked to provide general information about everyone in the household.
For the second part of the survey, we will randomly select one adult and one child (if there are any) to answer questions about their health and lifestyle. We need to randomly select the person (rather than you choosing them) because we need a range of people with a range of characteristics. Each selected person in the survey represents similar people in their local area.
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 to create an ABS Survey Account, add your secure Form Access Code, and start your survey online.
For the first part of the survey, you will be asked to answer some general questions about the people who live in your household.
Then, we will randomly select one adult and one child (if there are any) to complete the rest of the survey with an Interviewer at a convenient time for you.
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 you can’t go online, please call us on 1800 304 488 so we can arrange for an ABS Interviewer to help you complete the survey. If we don’t hear from you an ABS Interviewer will visit your address to conduct the survey with you.
Is the survey compulsory?
Ultimately, yes. The questions included in this survey are being asked under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905, which has provisions to make surveys compulsory.
Under the Act, you are obliged to provide the information being requested, unless otherwise specified by your interviewer. All the information you provide will remain strictly confidential and is protected under the Act.
What kinds of questions will you ask?
This survey collects general information about everyone in the household and includes questions about age, country of birth, education, employment and relationships within the household.
The survey then asks one randomly selected adult and one randomly selected child (if there are any children) a range of questions about their health and lifestyle factors, mental health and wellbeing and long-term health conditions.
Your ABS Interviewer will also ask to take measurements of your height, weight, waist and blood pressure. It’s important your interviewer takes these measurements on the day of your interview to ensure our statistics are accurate.
Your Interviewer will also ask if you are willing to provide voluntary biomedical (blood and/or urine) samples by visiting your local collection centre. If you choose to provide biomedical samples, you will be helping to inform vital research into the relationship between nutrition, exercise and health outcomes. For more information please visit www.abs.gov.au/NHMS
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 304 488 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 304 488 and we will verify your selection in the survey and the identity of the Interviewer who is contacting you.
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 when it is safe to do so. If there is someone in the household who can translate, and the respondent 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 imprisonment, a $26,640 fine, or both.
Will the information I provide be combined with other data?
The information you provide will be combined with the information from other respondents to produce vital statistics about Australian households.
The ABS is committed to maximising the value of data and statistics. One way to do this is to combine data from two or more sources together. This is known as data integration. The ABS does this to create new statistics and insights that help address important questions about Australia’s communities,economy and environment, and to save you time when responding to surveys.
The new insights created through data integration assist policy makers and researchers to better understand Australian families, communities, industry and the economy. This wider understanding can help to improve the development and delivery of government services and programs in areas such as health, infrastructure, housing and other community services.
By reusing existing data, we can also reduce the amount or frequency of information needed from our surveys, saving you time, and using public money more effectively.
You can learn more about ABS data integration by visiting www.abs.gov.au/dataintegration
I'm having trouble starting the survey online – where can I find help?
Please see our Survey Account Help page for assistance with technical difficulties, as well as answers to frequently asked questions on creating and using an ABS Survey Account.
You can also call us on 1800 304 488 and one of our team will be happy to assist you.
Who can I contact for more information?
For help or more information about this survey, please call us on 1800 304 488 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm AEST. For help outside these hours, please leave a message with your contact details and we will return your call as soon as possible.