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4626.0.55.001 - Environmental views and behaviour, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2012   
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1 This publication presents results from the Attitudes to the Environment Survey, a topic on the Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS) conducted throughout Australia from July 2011 to June 2012. The MPHS, conducted each financial year by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS), is designed to collect statistics for a number of small, self-contained topics.

The Attitudes to the Environment Survey collected information from individuals aged 18 years and over about their views and practices on environmental issues over a 12 month period prior to the date of interview. General demographic information such as age, sex, labour force characteristics, education and income were also collected.


3 The scope of the Attitudes to the Environment Survey was restricted to persons aged 18 years and over who were usual residents of the dwellings and excluded the following:

    • members of the Australian permanent defence forces
    • diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from Census and estimated population counts
    • overseas residents in Australia
    • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependents)
    • persons living in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, boarding schools, hospitals, retirement homes, homes for people with disabilities, and prisons
    • people living in Indigenous communities (excluded for operational reasons).
4 2011–12 is the first time this survey included households residing in very remote parts of Australia. This inclusion has minimal impact on Australian level estimates.


5 In the LFS, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling, and hence has only one chance of selection in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more detail.


6 The MPHS was conducted as a supplement to the monthly LFS. Each month, one eighth of the dwellings in the LFS sample were rotated out of the survey and a sub-sample of these dwellings was then selected for the MPHS. In these dwellings, after the LFS had been fully completed for each person in scope and coverage, a person aged 18 years or over was selected at random (based on a computer algorithm) and asked the various MPHS topic questions in a personal interview. Data was collected using Computer Assisted Interviewing, whereby responses were recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer, usually during a telephone interview.

For the 2011–12 MPHS, the sample was accumulated over a twelve month period from July 2011 to June 2012.

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 LFS, and consequently to the MPHS. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing.

9 The sample for the Attitudes to the Environment Survey was approximately 19,500. After taking into account sample loss, the response rate for the survey was 78%. In total, information was collected from 12,937 fully responding households.



10 Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total 'in scope' population. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each enumerated person. The weight is a value which indicates the number of persons in the population represented by the sample person.

11 The first step in calculating weights for each unit is to assign an initial weight, which is the inverse of the probability of being selected in the survey. For example, if the probability of a person being selected in the survey was 1 in 600, then the person would have an initial weight of 600 (that is, they represent 600 people).


12 The initial weights are then calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population, referred to as benchmarks. The population included in the benchmarks is the survey scope. This calibration process ensures that the weighted data conform to the independently estimated distribution of the population described by the benchmarks rather than to the distribution within the sample itself. Calibration to population benchmarks helps to compensate for over or under-enumeration of particular categories of persons which may occur due to either the random nature of sampling or non-response.

The survey uses estimated resident population (ERP) based person benchmarks for each state and territory of Australia, as at 31 March 2012.


14 Survey estimates of counts of persons are obtained by summing the weights of persons with the characteristic of interest.


15 Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:
    • Sampling error is the difference between the published estimate derived from a sample of dwellings and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings in scope of the survey had been included in the survey. For further information refer to the Technical Note.
    • Non-sampling error may occur in any collection whether it is based on a sample or a full count of the population such as a census. Sources of non-sampling error include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording answers by interviewers, and errors in coding and processing data. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error by careful design and testing of the questionnaire, training of interviewers, extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing and follow-up of respondents.


16 Information recorded in this survey is essentially 'as reported' by respondents and hence may differ from that which might be obtained from other sources or via other methodologies. This factor should be considered when interpreting the estimates in this publication.

17 Information was collected on respondents' perceptions on the condition of the natural environment. Perceptions are influenced by a number of factors and can change quickly. Care should therefore be taken when analysing or interpreting the data.


18 Due to differences in the scope and sample size of the MPHS and that of the LFS, the estimation procedure may lead to some small variations between labour force estimates from this survey and those obtained from the LFS.

19 The ABS seeks to maximise consistency and comparability of estimates over time by minimising changes to its survey. However, sound survey practice requires ongoing review to maintain and improve the integrity of the data. Significant changes have been outlined below:
    • 'Don't know' was added as a category to the data items 'Whether concerned about any environmental problems' and 'Reasons personal water use has decreased'
    • The Attitudes to the Environment Survey asks questions about the frequency of waste collection and disposal. The output categories from the 2007–08 survey were expanded from 'All or most of the time', 'Some of the time' and 'Rarely or never' to 'Always', 'Often', 'Sometimes', 'Rarely' and 'Never'. The affected data items are outlined below:
        • Frequency of personally sorting out recyclable from non-recyclable
        • Frequency of composting or recycling kitchen or food waste
        • Frequency of composting or recycling garden waste
        • Frequency of reusing bags when doing the grocery shopping.


20 Country of birth data are classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (Second Edition) (SACC), 2008 (cat. no. 1269.0).

21 Area of usual residence is classified according to the Statistical Geography: Volume 1 – Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2006 (cat. no. 1216.0).

22 Educational attainment data are classified according to the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).


Data Cube

23 All tables in this product release are available in a Data Cube from the Downloads tab of this publication. For a list of tables in the Data Cube, please refer to the contents page of the spreadsheet.


24 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. All inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.


25 ABS surveys draw extensively on information provided by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated and 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.


26 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again during the 2015–16 financial year.


27 Further information on environmental issues can be found through the following websites:

    • Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (
    • Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (
    • Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available on the ABS website ( The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead.

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