Australia's Household Expenditure Survey


This is an important national survey that collects information about the income, housing and living costs of Australian households and how they change over time.

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 decisions about income support, pensions and living costs like childcare.

Click the button below to start your Household Expenditure Survey by providing your phone number and a convenient time for an ABS Interviewer to call you. Alternatively, you can call us on 1800 060 050 and provide your details over the phone.


If you need help, please call one of our team on 1800 060 050 during business hours. For help outside these hours, please leave a message with your contact details and we will call you back as soon as possible.

If you would like to know about how the ABS is responding to the recent spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) click here.

Frequently Asked Questions


I've been chosen to be in the Household Expenditure Survey – what is this?
This is an important national survey that collects information to help understand the income, housing and living costs of Australian households, and how that changes over time.

This information is particularly important right now in measuring the impact that the spread of COVID-19 is having on people's ability to meet key living costs, and the broader Australian economy.

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, and will help to measure the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 in Australia.

Results are used by governments, researchers and community groups to better understand the social and economic wellbeing of people in Australia.

By taking part, you can ensure that your experiences and circumstances become part of the story of life in Australia today. Decisions about income support, pensions, plans for retirement and living costs such as housing and childcare can be made by analysing the data from this survey. The information you provide 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 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. All households have 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.

How do I complete the survey?
If you have been selected for the survey, you will have received a letter in the mail including instructions on how to start your survey.

To start the survey, you will need to provide your contact details so that an ABS Interviewer can call you to arrange a time to complete the survey with you. You can either start your survey online or call 1800 060 050.

If we don’t hear from you before the due date (shown on the letter we sent), an Interviewer will make contact with your household to complete the survey. ABS Interviewers will always identify themselves as an ABS officer, and show you their official ABS photo identification. They will conduct the interview using a laptop computer. If you have any concerns, you can call us on 1800 060 050 and we will verify your selection in the survey and the Interviewer who is contacting you.

For information about the ABS response to COVID-19, and how the ABS is safely collecting data during this time, click here.

Who in my household will be required to participate?
All people in your household who are 15 years and older will need to take part in this survey.

One person in the household will be asked to answer some general questions about the household and its finances. Then, each person aged 15 years or older will be asked to answer questions about their income, education and other topics. They will also need to record all payments and purchases for one week in an individual expenditure diary.

All people completing the survey may need to refer to financial records in order to answer their part of the survey.

For people in the household that are between 15 and 17 years of age, the consent of a parent or guardian is required before they complete the survey. Alternatively, the parent or guardian can answer the survey on their behalf.

What financial records might be useful to complete the survey?
To complete this survey, you may need to refer to some of your current or recent financial records. You will not be required to provide these records or documents to the ABS.

Examples of records that may be useful are:

Housing costs and household loans:

  • Council and water rates
  • Rental agreement or rent payment information
  • Household contents insurance policy (value of contents)
  • Statements for loans including mortgages and investment loans
  • Body corporate payments
  • Solar electricity capacity (kW)

Income and personal finances:
  • Employment income including pay slips, Centrelink and Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) payments
  • Income from investments such as shares, trusts, dividends and rental properties
  • Bank account statements and statements including superannuation accounts and credit card (including store cards)
  • Statements for loans including car loans, personal loans and student loans (i.e. HECS or HELP loans)
  • Child care invoices
  • Profit or loss from businesses
  • Total value of shares

Other expenses:
  • Gas and/or electricity bill
  • Telephone/internet service/pay TV accounts
  • Insurance payments/statements (e.g. vehicle, belongings, health, personal, life insurance)
  • Bills/receipts for:
    • alterations and additions
    • repairs and maintenance
    • furniture, floor coverings and appliances
Child care:
  • Child care invoices/statements

What kinds of questions will you ask?
The first part of this survey collects general information about your household and its finances. This includes questions about age, country of birth, relationships within the household, whether you own your house or rent, household bills and expenses, and loans.

For the rest of the survey, we will ask each person in your household, aged 15 years or over, about their income, education and other topics.

All people in the household (aged 15 years and over) will also need to record all payments and purchases for one week in an individual diary. Recording this information every day provides vital information on the spending habits of Australian households.

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 a letter informing you about 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, connected to our highly secure networks, to conduct interviews over the phone.

Remember - The ABS will NEVER ask you to provide or confirm your bank details.

If you have any concerns, you can call us on 1800 060 050 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. If there is someone in the household who can translate, and the respondent agrees, they can help the interviewer.

Will I be paid for my time?
No. There is no provision within the Census and Statistics Act 1905 to reimburse people for the cost of 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.

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.

How can I provide feedback about my experience in the Household Expenditure Survey?
If you have participated in this survey, or any of our other surveys, we want to hear about your experience. We value your feedback and will use it to improve how we work with our survey participants.

You can use our feedback form to provide us with feedback. For this survey, please select the option "Participation in an ABS Household Survey".

Who can I contact for more information?
For help or more information about this survey, please call us on 1800 060 050 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 effort 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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