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1406.0.55.003 - User Manual: Responsible Use of ABS CURFs, Sep 2009  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/02/2012  Reissue
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Image: Microdata logo INTRODUCTION


Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs) are files of responses to ABS surveys or censuses that have had specific identifying information about persons and organisations confidentialised. CURFs contain the most detailed statistical information available from the ABS, and are of most use to researchers and analysts who wish to run their own statistical queries on the data.

The Census and Statistics Act includes a legislative guarantee to respondents that their confidentiality will be protected. This is fundamental to the trust the Australian public has in the ABS, and that trust is in turn fundamental to the excellent quality of ABS information. Without that trust, survey respondents may be less forthcoming or truthful in answering our questionnaires. For more information, see 'Avoiding inadvertent disclosure' and 'Microdata' on our web page How the ABS keeps your information confidential.

These protections are also to ensure respondent confidentiality is maintained and in response to the legislative requirement for the Australian Statistician to release microdata ‘... in a manner that is not likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation to which it relates’, the ABS:

  • removes all directly identifying information such as names and addresses, etc.
  • ensures data items likely to identify respondents are released in broad categories only - for example, while a particular survey questionnaire may record the respondents' home or business address, microdata may be released at the state or territory level
  • checks for records with uncommon combinations of responses, and may alter them slightly to ensure individuals or organisations cannot be identified.

In addition, we place restrictions on how you may use the microdata. These restrictions are set out in the CURF Undertaking signed by each organisation's Responsible Officer. Each individual must agree to the ABS Terms and Conditions of CURF Access when submitting an application.

These restrictions, and your responsibilities toward them, are discussed in detail in this manual. In addition to the use you make of the microdata, they also relate to your secure management of CURF access.

Careful reading of this Manual is a prerequisite for access to ABS CURF microdata.

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