This page contains information designed to help businesses understand and complete the questions asked on the Update of Business Structure survey form. For general information about participation in business surveys, please refer to Business Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). If your question about the Update of Business Structure survey form is not answered on this page, or in the information provided on your form, please contact the ABS on 1800 624 562 (free call excluding mobile phones).
For further information on ABS run surveys, please refer to the ABS Surveys Charter which specifies the standards involved in all ABS surveys.
What is the purpose of the Update of Business Structure survey?
The Update of Business Structure survey form collects information to update the ABS Business Register and ensure it accurately reflects the structure of operating businesses. The ABS Business Register provides details of Australian businesses for most ABS economic surveys to enable a consistent, coherent, point-in-time picture of the Australian economy.
Further information on the purpose and conceptual framework of the ABS Business Register can be found on the Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register page.
How do I submit my form?
Most Update of Business Structure survey forms are returned by mail but respondents also have the option of reporting by telephone if it is more convenient. In that case an ABS officer will contact your business representative to gather information via telephone. Update of Business Structure paper forms should be returned in the Reply Paid envelope provided.
If you have lost the envelope the address is:
Australia Bureau of Statistics
Reply Paid 91903
Dandenong VIC 3175
Can I do it on line?
Currently the form is not available for online completion however in special circumstances the ABS can provide an electronic worksheet.
Can I email details?
The ABS adheres to strict guidelines for the transmission of data by email as email communication cannot always be secured. Contents of emails may be viewed by others who have no relationship with your business or the ABS. Email privacy, without some security precautions, may be compromised.
Where email exchange is required, the ABS will arrange lodgement through a Secure Deposit Box which is the ABS' data lodgement service. Use of the Secure Deposit Box ensures that each file lodged is encrypted during transmission to protect the confidentiality of the data.
What about confidentiality?
Is it compulsory?
The ABS relies on the cooperation of businesses selected in our surveys to provide accurate information as requested. The vast majority of businesses respond regularly to our requests for information.
However, the Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the Australian Statistician with the power, if necessary, to direct you in writing to complete the survey.
What about the workload we already have?
The ABS is very conscious of the reporting load imposed on businesses in completing ABS statistical surveys. For some time the ABS has been actively pursuing a policy of reducing this load to the minimum necessary to fulfil its obligations as a national statistical agency. (see Steps the ABS is taking to minimise reporting load on businesses)
What if I don't have time to fill in the form?
Businesses experiencing difficulties in completing ABS survey forms by the due date can request an extension of time. Extensions may be granted on a case by case basis, and should be requested by contacting the toll free telephone number which appears on the front of the survey form.
Can I keep a record of my completed form?
Yes, the ABS highly recommends that you keep a copy of your completed form for your own personal records and to refer to if we require any clarification after we receive the form. Please note that an ABS officer may contact you for clarification on any data that you provide. This additional information helps to ensure that statistics produced by the ABS are fit for purpose and of a high quality.
Relevance of the Survey
The activities of large and small businesses make an important contribution to the Australian economy, especially at state and territory levels. In addition to being useful in their own right, the results of many ABS business surveys are inputs into quarterly and annual updates of the Australian National Accounts. The statistics produced from business surveys provide information for government, businesses and the community for informed decision making.
Results from this survey feed into the survey selection and data analysis for critical economic surveys and the production of the Australian National Accounts and other economic indicators.
How was my business selected in the survey?
To efficiently collect information from businesses, the ABS maintains information about the business structures of both private and government organisations on the ABS Business Register. The structures of large, complex and economically significant organisations are updated using the Update of Business Structure survey. Your business has been selected in this survey to confirm your business structure and key characteristics such as business activity, income, employment and contact details (including payroll).
What types of businesses are included in the Update of Business Structure survey form?
The Update of Business Structure survey form is typically completed by large, complex, and / or economically significant businesses operating in Australia.
How long will I be on the survey?
The length of time you will be in the Update of Business Structure survey generally depends upon the size of your business. Some larger businesses will remain in the survey on an ongoing basis because of their significance to survey results.
Changes to the Update of Business Structure survey form.
The Update of Business Structure form is reviewed on a regular basis. Questions on ABS business survey forms are usually determined through consultative processes involving major users of ABS business statistics, such as Commonwealth and State government departments and relevant ABS business survey collection areas. Factors such as whether information can be obtained from other sources, why the data is needed, how the information will be obtained, ability of businesses to provide the information and cost are all considered. Forms testing is undertaken to ensure that new questions can be readily understood and completed appropriately. If you have any questions or suggestions for changes to the form please contact us on 1800 624 562 to discuss.
Defining terms referenced on the Update of Business Structure survey form.
See page 2 of your Update of Business Structure paper form for detailed definitions of Business Unit, Total gross income, and Employment. To discuss further please contact us on 1800 624 562.
How should I report employment?
For the purposes of the Update of Business Structure survey form employment should be reported as headcount of all persons as at the last pay period prior to completion.
The Update of Business Structure
survey form asks for each Business Unit's details (Part B), including a breakdown of employment (headcount) by state/territory reported for this financial year.
Some businesses operate without any employees (for example, businesses operated entirely by owners of unincorporated entities). In this case, provide a detailed explanation in the comments field.
In order for the ABS to determine the correct course of action for this business, you may
be contacted and asked some additional questions (for example, is there is any intention for the business to employ in the future?).
What if my business did not operate during the reference period (e.g. seasonal businesses)?
If your business did not operate during the reference period please complete all relevant sections of the form and provide a detailed explanation in the comments field. In order for the ABS to determine the correct course of action for this business, you may
be contacted and asked some additional questions.
If your business no longer operates due to an internal restructure or sale/merger but has been issued an Update of Business Structure
survey form, information about why the business operations have ceased should be provided in the comments field (include final date of operation, what happened to employees and to business assets).
Please note that an ABS officer may contact you for clarification on any data that you provide. This additional information helps to ensure that statistics produced by the ABS are fit for purpose and of high quality.
How can I get access to the results of the Update of Business Structure survey?
Results of the Update of Business Structure
survey form are used to produce the Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits
(cat. no. 8165.0).
For further information and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service
on 1300 135 070 (Freecall - excluding mobiles).
The ABS is grateful for the cooperation of businesses in submitting completed forms promptly, this enables early processing and timely release of survey results. We look forward to your continued support.