4602.0 - Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices, Mar 2007  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/12/2007  Final
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1 This publication contains results from a supplementary survey on water use and conservation which was conducted throughout Australia in March 2007 as part of the Monthly Population Survey (MPS). It is a continuation of a series of surveys on this topic conducted since June 1994. The previous survey was conducted in March 2004. The major aim of the survey was to collect data on how households source and use their water.

2 The publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the monthly MPS, which also apply to supplementary surveys. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing which are relevant to supplementary surveys.

3 From April 2001, the Labour Force Survey component of the MPS has been conducted using a redesigned questionnaire containing additional questions and some minor definitional changes. These changes may affect the supplementary surveys. For further details, see Information Paper: Implementing the Redesigned Labour Force Survey Questionnaire (cat. no. 6295.0) and Information Paper: Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey (cat. no. 6232.0).


Survey Vehicle

4 The Monthly Population Survey is based on a multi-stage area sample of private dwellings (houses, flats, etc.) and a list sample of non-private dwellings (hotels, motels, etc.). The sample for a monthly population survey is approximately 37,000 dwellings but only half of these were included in the March supplementary topic. For the March 2007 survey, there were 18,882 full responding households.

Data collection

5 Information was collected through interviews conducted over a two-week period during March 2007.

6 Information was collected from any responsible adult in the household who was asked to respond on behalf of the person or household.

7 Information for this survey was collected using computer assisted interviewing (CAI), whereby interviewers record responses directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer. The March 2004 survey was conducted using the traditional 'pen and paper' method. In the March 2007 survey, all interviews were conducted using the CAI method.

8 The change in interviewing method is not expected to have affected the estimates in any meaningful way.


9 The estimation process for this survey ensures that estimates calibrate exactly to independently produced population totals at broad levels. The known population totals, commonly referred to as 'benchmarks', are produced according to the scope of the survey. The same is true for estimates of households produced in this survey. However, in these cases the household benchmarks are actually estimates themselves and not strictly known population totals.

10 Since this survey was last conducted, the process for producing household benchmarks has been refined. Whilst this process is still under review, it represents a significant improvement to the previous method and household benchmarks produced using the new method are considered to be of sufficient quality for use in household survey estimation. In addition, measures of the variability in household benchmarks have been incorporated into household estimates for the first time. These changes may result in unexpected movements in total households (at some broad levels) due to revised benchmark methodology.

11 A paper describing these issues in detail is currently being developed and will be released with catalogue number 3107.0.55.007.


12 The survey was conducted in both rural and urban areas in all states and territories of Australia, but excluded people living in very remote and sparsely settled parts of Australia who would otherwise have been within the scope of the survey. The exclusion of these people will have only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, with the exception of the Northern Territory where such persons account for over 20% of the population.

13 In this supplementary survey, persons aged 18 years and over who were usual residents of private dwellings were included except:

  • members of the Australian permanent defence forces;
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from censuses and surveys;
  • overseas residents in Australia;
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependents) stationed in Australia; and
  • residents of other non-private dwellings such as hospitals, motels and gaols.


14 The estimates in this publication relate to households covered by the survey in March 2007.


15 A set of changing supplementary survey topics rotate over a period of three years. The topics contained in this publication compare with some data collected in 1994, 2001, and 2004. Where applicable, the data have been included in this publication for comparison.

16 An important point to note is that the environment topics were surveyed using a 'personal interview' methodology before 1997. From 1997 onwards the 'any responsible adult' methodology has been applied. When comparing post-1997 and pre-1997 data readers should be aware that some differences in the data may be explained by the change in methodology rather than representing real changes over time.

17 Data on the main source of water for gardening was previously collected and published in 2004 edition of 4602.0. Direct comparison of data on this item for 2007 is not possible due to an additional question in the 2007 survey prompting for the use of 'grey water'. This also had the effect of increasing the population of households responding that they had more than one source of water. These households with more than one source of water were then asked about the main source of water for gardening. To see the data previously collected and changes over time please refer to tables 3.23 and 3.24 in Environmental issues: People's views and practices, 2004 (cat. no. 4602.0).

18 The data item 'Problems with the quality of the mains/town water supply' was previously collected at the person level but in 2007, it is collected at the household level. This means that the 2007 data is not comparable with previous collections. To see the data previously collected and changes over time please refer to table 3.31 in Environmental issues: People's views and practices, 2004 (cat. no. 4602.0).

19 In 2007, those households which had a rainwater tank were asked if their rainwater tanks provided sufficient supply. Prior to 2007, those households which sourced water from rainwater tanks were asked if those water tanks provided sufficient supply. Therefore, 2007 data is not directly comparable to data in previous collections. To see the data previously collected and changes over time please refer to table 3.33 in Environmental issues: People's views and practices, 2004 (cat. no. 4602.0).

20 The 2007 population for the questions on whether a household had considered installing a rainwater tank and the factors preventing the installation of a rainwater tank was limited to; those households that are home 'owners' or home 'purchasers'; and excluded those households which already have rainwater tanks and those dwellings which are unsuitable for a water tank (e.g. flats). Previously the population included all households except those that had a rainwater tank. Therefore, 2007 data is not directly comparable to data in previous collections. To see the data previously collected and changes over time please refer to tables 3.34 and 3.35 in Environmental issues: People's views and practices, 2004 (cat. no. 4602.0).

21 Households that responded 'Don't water' when asked for their main source of water for gardening were not asked the question on methods used to water the garden. However, these households have been included in the 'Don't water/rely on rainfall only' category of methods used in watering gardens. This category also includes households who responded 'Don't water/rely on rainfall only' when asked for their methods of watering the garden. This second group may also have specified another method for watering the garden.

22 The figures presented on filtration and treatment of swimming pools is not directly comparable to those presented in previous publications as they have been calculated differently. Previously, the group that were labelled 'Both filtered and treated' were also counted in the 'Filtered' and 'Treated' categories. In 2007 these groups are mutually exclusive. Due to the questions used to collect this information in the past, the separation shown in 2007 can not be presented for 1994 and 1998. Please refer to Environmental Issues: People's views and practices, 2004 (cat. no. 4602.0), for data from 1994, 1998 and 2001.


23 Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:

  • Sampling error is the difference between the published estimate and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings had been included in the survey. For further information refer to the Technical Note.
  • Non-sampling errors are inaccuracies that occur because of imperfections in reporting by respondents and interviewers, and errors made in coding and processing data. These inaccuracies may occur in any enumeration, whether in a full count or a sample survey. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error to a minimum by the careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers and efficient data processing procedures.


24 ABS surveys draw extensively on information provided by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics ACT 1905.


25 The next national environmental supplementary survey will focus on Energy use and conservation. The survey will be run in March 2008.


26 Users may also wish to refer to the following ABS publications:

      Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0) - 1992 to 2006 issues.
      Australia's Environment Issues and Trends 2006 (cat. no. 4613.0)
      Water Account Australia (cat. no. 4610.0).


27 Further key references on environmental concerns, water use and conservation can be found through the following web sites:
28 Current publications produced by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0). The catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.


29 In addition to the statistics provided in this publication, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tabulations can be produced from the survey by cross-classifying any of the following data items for the relevant survey populations. All inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

      Dissemination or Statistical Regions
      Household characteristics
          Household type
          One family household
          Couple with dependent child(ren)
          One parent with dependent child(ren)
          Couple only
          Other one family households
          Multiple family household
          With dependent child(ren)
          Without dependent child(ren)
          Non-family household
          Lone person
          Group household
      Number of usual residents
          One person
          Two persons
          Three persons
          Four persons
          Five persons
          Six or more persons