Survey Participant Information - Survey of Income and Housing

In this section:

1. Background
2. Selection Information
3. Participant Information
4. Policy Information
5. The Results


What is the Survey of Income and Housing?

This survey is run every two years to help understand the income, housing and living arrangements of Australian households, and changes over time.

Why is the Survey of Income and Housing important?

The results from this survey are used by governments, business and organisations to help make decisions and achieve better outcomes for Australians across a wide range of areas. Having accurate information about your household income, housing and living arrangements means our government can make informed policy and planning decisions about future welfare, housing and social services in your area.

Selection Information

Why was my household selected?

About 23,000 households will be randomly selected for this survey. Every household in Australia has the same chance of being selected.

If your household has been selected to be in this survey, it means that the people in your household will represent households that are similar to yours.

I don't want to participate. Can you choose another household?

Each household in Australia has an equal chance of being chosen. This means that when all the selected households are combined, each will form an important part of the bigger picture of living conditions in Australia today. Once your household has been selected, another household cannot be substituted in its place. Whatever your circumstances, they are relevant to this survey.

Participation Information

How will the ABS contact me?

Each household will receive a Survey Guide in the mail which will give an overview of the survey and how we collect information. A letter will arrive shortly after which will provide instructions on how to create an ABS Survey Account, and access the survey online. If you can’t go online or need help call us on 1800 462 609 to discuss other ways to complete your survey.

If we don’t hear from you, we will send a reminder letter encouraging you to complete the survey as soon as possible. If you don’t complete the survey by the due date, an interviewer will visit your house or call to arrange a suitable time to conduct the survey.

How can I complete my Survey?

You can complete this survey online at a time and place that is convenient for you.

Choose someone in your household to be your household representative. This person should be the one who knows the most about your household’s finances. They will need to follow the steps on the letter to create one online ABS Survey Account for everyone in your household to use, and then answer some general questions about your household and its finances.

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

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

Who in the household will be required to participate?

After your chosen household representative has completed the first part of the survey, each person in your household aged 15 years and over will need to complete their section.

What are you going to ask about?

This survey collects a range of information about the economic wellbeing of Australian households such as:
            • If you own, are buying or renting your home
            • Sources of income
            • Housing costs and condition
            • Assets and financial security

In addition, questions on age, country of birth, education and employment are collected for all individuals aged 15 years and over. This enables analysis of the economic wellbeing of different groups of people.

What financial records might be useful?

To complete this survey more efficiently and accurately, you may need to refer to some of your current or recent financial records. You will not be required to show these to an interviewer.

of records that may help you to complete the survey:


Housing Costs and Household Loans
    • Council and water rates
    • Body corporate payments
    • Household contents insurance policy (value of contents)
    • Rental agreement or rent payment information
    • Statements for loans including mortgages, investment loans, car loans, and personal loans


Income and Personal Finances
    • Employment income including pay slips
    • Superannuation account statements
    • Profit or loss from businesses
    • Bank account statements
    • Centrelink and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) payments such as Age Pension, Newstart Allowance and Family Tax Benefit
    • Statements for education liability (e.g. HECS or HELP debts)
    • Credit card statements (including store cards)
    • Child care invoices
    • Income from investments such as shares, trusts, dividends and rental properties

What if I cannot do this survey online?

If you can’t get online to access the survey please call us on 1800 462 609 to discuss other ways to participate.

What happens if there are people in the household who don't speak English?

Please call 1800 462 609 for more information on ways to complete the survey.

Will I be paid for my time?

No. As with other household surveys, we rely on the willing co-operation of households.

Is the survey compulsory?

The questions included in this survey are being asked under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Under the Act, you are obliged to provide the information being requested.

Policy Information

How will you keep my information safe, secure, and confidential?

The ABS takes the security of the information you provide to us very seriously. The questions included in this survey are asked under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Under the Act, the ABS is required to maintain the secrecy of all information provided to us and no information will be released in a way that would enable an individual or household to be identified.

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 $21,600 fine, or both. All ABS interviewers will identify themselves as an ABS interviewer, confirm your address, and show you their official ABS photo identification.

The ABS complies with the Australian Privacy Principles. If you believe we have breached these principles, you can find information on how to lodge a complaint here.

The Results

Can you show me some examples of the ways in which the survey information is used?

Here are some examples of the ways we and other organisations use the findings from the survey:

Household Income and Wealth: Key findings
Housing Occupancy and Costs: Key findings
Feature article: Household debt and over-indebtedness in Australia
The Conversation: How the housing boom has driven rising inequality
Australian Council of Social Services and UNSW Sydney: Inequality in Australia 2018
OECD: Compare your Income
Sydney Morning Herald: The households with surging wealth and the ones standing still

More information

For more information about participating in this survey, please call 1800 462 609 (free call, excluding mobile phones).

For more information about participating in ABS household surveys please see: Household Survey Participant Information FAQ's

For more detailed information about the purpose, content and methods for this survey please see: Survey of Income and Housing User Guide