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
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product


Before access to microdata products can be granted by the ABS, a Responsible Officer in an Organisation must submit a signed Undertaking.

  • The Undertaking is a requirement under Clause 7 of the Statistics Determination (1983) under the Census and Statistics Act (1905).
  • Information about who can sign the Undertaking can be found in the Responsible Officer section.

    Clause 7 requires that the Responsible Officer to agree that microdata users in the organisation will:
  • not attempt to identify persons or organisations to which the information relates
  • use the information only for statistical purposes
  • not provide microdata to anyone inside or outside the organisation without the written permission of the ABS, and
  • not attempt to match the information with any other list of persons or organisations

    Individual users are bound by the Undertaking signed by their organisation’s Responsible Officer. Each person who wishes to use a microdata product must apply to the ABS for approval. Users must also comply with the CURF User: Responsibilities.

    Sharing of microdata
    Access to microdata can only be granted by the ABS. Unapproved individuals must not be given access to microdata as this is a breach of the Undertaking signed by your organisation. Any person who needs access to microdata or to non-aggregated output produced from microdata must apply and be approved by ABS before accessing the data. This includes members of your research project team who will see or use microdata or non-aggregated output. Sanctions may be brought against organisations and individuals found to be sharing access to microdata and/or unit record output with unapproved people.

    Sharing statistical output from microdata
    Tables or other aggregated output (for example, averages, model parameters) may be disclosed or disseminated by the user.

    Certain output from RADL and the Data Laboratory may be labelled as 'Keep Secure'. This classification requires that the output be treated as highly confidential at all times. 'Keep Secure' output includes any printouts of unit record information, as well as analytical output that has been designated as 'Keep Secure'. 'Keep Secure' output cannot be shared between users who do not have access to the source microdata, nor with users in other organisations whether or not they do have access to the microdata. Such output may be used in further analysis, but cannot be published.

    All analytical results labelled as 'Keep Secure', whether they include unit information or not, must be stored in a secure environment. All such printouts should be kept under lock and key, and electronic output must be stored in password protected systems.
    'Keep Secure' printouts must be securely destroyed when no longer needed, and analytical output (whether or not it includes unit record information) held in an intranet must be deleted. Deletion must happen in such a way that recovery is not possible by unauthorised people.

    Use of microdata in more than one organisation
    Users may belong to multiple organisations. This may be on a permanent or temporary basis.

    Important tip - when you belong to multiple organisations and you wish to apply for microdata you need to ensure your default setting for 'Current Organisation' in MiCRO is set to the appropriate one. To change your default organisation, click on the trading name and press 'Set as your Current Organisation' before applying for microdata. Remember, upon leaving an organisation you need to deactivate your CURF access by pressing the 'Leave organisation' button.

    Consultants and third party organisations
    Some researchers undertake work on behalf of other organisations, as a consultant. Consultants may be university academics doing a research project for a government agency or other organisation or may be employed by professional firms undertaking research for government agencies or other organisations. Consultants, like any other organisation, need to apply to use microdata.

    If people in the organisation employing the consultant (known as a third party organisation) will see or share microdata with the consultant then each of those people, and their organisations, must also be approved by ABS to access microdata. For example, a collaborative project where both the consultant and the third party organisation are analysing the microdata would require both organisations to be approved to access the microdata product.

    If people in the third party organisation will not see or share microdata then they do not need to be approved to access the microdata product. For example, if the consultant provides aggregated data only to the third party organisation, or provides a report with conclusions drawn from analysis of the microdata product, then the third party organisation is not required to have approved access to the microdata product.

    The application process for consultants is the same as the normal application process, except that the applicant must tell the ABS they are doing research for another organisation, and what outputs they will share with that organisation. ABS needs this information to ensure all those who need to access microdata gain ABS approval.

    Using microdata for a 'Statistical Purpose'
    Clause 7 of the Statistics Determination 1983 requires that microdata is used only for statistical purposes.

    Examples of statistical purposes include:
  • estimation of population characteristics to provide indicators of financial literacy of Australian households
  • statistical modelling of predictors and correlates of employment and work performance among those with carer responsibilities compared to persons without these responsibilities
  • use of data as input to mathematical models to enable analysis of impacts of potential policy changes in the area of health insurance
  • study the relationship between disability and labour market outcomes to target future employment programs
  • provision of statistical training to staff or students.

    ABS reserves the right to seek more information from applicants regarding their statistical purpose for the use of a microdata products.

    RADL Audits
    Audits of jobs submitted to RADL may be conducted throughout the year by the ABS. The purpose of these audits is to identify confidentiality issues within users' code, log or output files. These issues may arise through users failing to follow, accidentally or otherwise, restrictions or rules for using RADL. If a confidentiality issue is identified, the user in question will be notified by email. Users are required to cooperate with any ABS audit directions in respect to their code and output.

    Further information on restrictions and rules for RADL use can be found in the user manual (cat. no. 1406.0.55.002).

    ABS liability position regarding microdata
    Except to the extent that liability may not be lawfully excluded, the ABS:
    a) makes no warranty as to the suitability or fitness of the microdata product for a particular purpose, quality, accuracy or merchantability, and
    b) accepts no liability arising from the use of the microdata product.

    Limited licence provisions and copyright information
    Intellectual Property Rights in microdata products, including copyright, are owned by the Commonwealth of Australia represented by the ABS. Copyright notices appearing on microdata products or on information displayed or printed by the microdata product must not be removed.

    Organisation using microdata products are granted a non-exclusive, non-transferable license by the ABS that allows authorised users to use the Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURF) for statistical purposes in accordance with the Undertaking signed by the Responsible Officer of the organisation.

    Publication of data and analysis of a microdata product must cite the Australian Bureau of Statistics as the source of the data and include a prominently displayed notice that the results or views expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the ABS. More information about citing microdata products in published output is available in the Guide to Citing ABS Sources.

    The Microdata pages on the ABS website provide an opportunity for researchers to provide a link to their Published Research Using CURF Microdata. Please contact microdata.access@abs.gov.au to get your paper displayed.