The study is a source of information to those making economic and social welfare decisions for all Australians
- The Study
The HILDA study continues to be a valuable source of information for policy makers and researchers concerned with improving the lives of all Australians.Read More
- What's Involved
Taking part in the Living in Australia study involves answering questions about many different topics, such as education, employment, retirement, income, family, and how you feel about different aspects of your life.Read More
- Your Online Self-Completion Questionnaire
Complete your Self-Completion Questionnaire online now.Read More
- Your interview materials
Interview Materials for Wave 21.Read More
What's new in 2021?
In our twenty-first year, the Living in Australia (HILDA) study will focus on your health and health care visits, sleep, and diet along with a general update from you. Most of us have faced new challenges and demands, especially in the last year. With this in mind, it is critical that we capture this important information for policy makers and researchers who are passionate about improving Australian life.
A message from
Professor Peter Butterworth
For the past 20 years, the HILDA Survey has collected information about how Australians live and work, about their economic circumstances, their families and their relationships. This rich data has been used extensively by policymakers in government and by academic researchers. What is less recognised, however, is how important and influential the HILDA Survey has been in building our understanding of the health of Australians.
In my own research area of mental health there is no other Australian data comparable to HILDA. Each year the survey provides a snapshot of the mental health of the Australian population. This enables us to see, for example, how levels of distress have increased over time, particularly for younger Australians. The longitudinal data following the same people over time provides insights into how individuals’ mental health changes. With 20 years of data we can better understand whether people’s mental health varies significantly from year-to-year, the effect that different life transitions (e.g., leaving school, marriage, retirement) have on mental health, and how the social and economic context in which we are born, live and work influences our mental health.
HILDA continues to provide a unique resource to identify ways to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of Australians. This is only possible because of your willingness to participate in the HILDA interviews and to complete the surveys each year.
Research School of Population Health,
ANU College of Health and Medicine
Taking part in the Living in Australia study involves answering questions about many different topics, such as education, employment, retirement, income, family, and how you feel about different aspects of your life.
Your interviewer will ask everyone in your household aged 15 years or older to answer these questions. This usually takes about 35 minutes.
One person in your household will also be asked a few questions about the household in general. This usually takes about 10 minutes to answer.
Depending on your circumstances, we will visit you next year to find out about your life in the last 12 months. To keep you up-to-date with the study's news and results, you will also be sent a copy of the Living in Australia newsletter next year.
If you would like a copy of the latest newsletter please ask your interviewer.
What will you ask me about?
The four big areas that affect all of us are:
- Who we share our lives with;
- What we do with our time;
- How we manage financially; and
- What we think are the good and bad things about our lives.
To understand the things that affect you, our interviewers ask questions about how you feel about various parts of your life.
Our aim is to find out how things are changing in Australia. To do this we need to ask many of the same questions every year. Surprisingly, when people think nothing has changed and they are asked the same questions, we often find that things have changed.
Our thanks to you
We greatly appreciate the time you spend with our interviewers each year.
As a thank-you for your participation, you will receive a $40 gift after your interview. You will receive an additional $20 after you have completed and returned the Self- Completion Questionnaire, either as hardcopy or an online survey.
If we interview you in person, we will offer your thank-you gift as cash. If we interview you via telephone, we will offer your thank-you gift as your choice of E-gift card, cheque or charitable donation.
Just turned 15?
Young people, such as you, are critical to the future of Australia. By sharing your unique experience you are assisting all young Australians to influence their future.
If you have turned 15 (as at 30th June), we want to talk to you! Whether you are still at school, just started work, or trying to figure out your next steps, you can make sure that young people in Australia are represented in this important study.
For your time, you will receive a $40 gift in thanks for your participation. In addition, you will receive an extra $20 gift when you complete a Self-Completion Questionnaire.
- Meet the interviewers
In the Living In Australia study there are approximately 160 interviewers conducting interviews in each state across Australia. We would like to introduce you to some of the interviewers from Roy Morgan who, like you, contribute to the Living in Australia study each year.Read More
- Messages in Support
It may be hard to imagine how the information you generously provide will help shape our nation, but that's exactly what it does. Throughout the years of collecting data, many policy decisions have been influenced by HILDA data.Read More
Published Research and Reports
Offer to all Living in Australia participants.
The Living in Australia: A snapshot of Australian society and how it is changing over time Report, was introduced in 2019 to provide insight about a small selection of some of the trends and findings that emerge from the HILDA Survey.
This new report has been designed specifically with the HILDA Survey participants in mind as a thank you for inviting our interviewers into your home and/or answering their phone calls every year. Your ongoing cooperation is vital to the study’s success and the ability to make a real and long-lasting difference to the lives of all Australians.
The material covered is drawn from a larger report—the annual HILDA Survey Statistical Report—which has been produced every year since 2006.
A free printed copy of Living in Australia Report and the HILDA Survey Statistical Report is available to all survey participants. If you would like to receive your own personal colour printed report, please call us on 1800 656 670.
The latest Living in Australia Report and Statistical Report are also available for free download.
- Why am I so important to this study?
We're glad you asked! HILDA is a longitudinal study - this means we seek to tell the story of the same group of people over a period of time. The HILDA study uses a longitudinal design to put together a true, detailed story of Australians for decision makers to help plan for our future. It's the only study of its kind in Australia.
There is no one like you! You are irreplaceable. The strict statistical guidelines that this study is conducted by means you cannot be replaced or represented by any other person. The success of the study is dependent upon your participation. Your participation represents the voice of 1,000 other Australians just like you.
So help us to find out how things are changing in Australia. Your participation will give you the satisfaction of knowing you are part of an important and unique study that will contribute to changing the lives for present and future Australians.
The USA, Germany, Canada, Britain, Israel Sweden, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Belgium all have similar long term studies.
The value this has brought to these countries is considerable. Your participation will ensure Australia can also benefit. The information you provide is having a long term impact on Australia's direction. Every year that you and other households respond, the study increases in value and in its power to influence decision making.
Thanks to your input we now have information on topics such as:
- Planning for our aging population
- How smoking bans have affected the health and smoking behaviour of Australians
- Explaining unemployment in Australia
- The impact of long working hours
- The reasons for changes in Australia's birth rate
- The personal and national costs of mental illness
- The division of household chores between men and women
- The effect of part-time work on families and women's careers
- Childcare: accessibility and who uses it
- The effect of household debt on Australians
- Maternity leave arrangements available to Australian women
- The impact of separation and divorce on income
- Job satisfaction of Australians
- How health influences the ability to work
- Why my household?
- To get an accurate picture of people's lives, the study needs to talk to a cross-section of the Australian population.
- Because the aim of the Living in Australia study is to get a picture of how Australian households change over time, each year we return to every household that has previously participated in the study.
- Approximately 500 areas across Australia were selected on a probability basis in 2001. Each area contained around 200 to 250 dwellings. A Living in Australia representative visited each area to list all the dwellings within the area. A random sample of dwellings was then selected from this list.
- In 2011, for the first time since the study began, we extended the invitation to a limited number of additional households to take part.
- These strict statistical procedures were followed to select dwellings to ensure that the results are, as far as possible, representative of the Australian population. Therefore, we cannot replace your household with another household.
- How will I be involved in the survey?
- We will ask you questions about your life in Australia by conducting a short interview with you.
- A Living in Australia interviewer will arrange an interview with you at your home or your choice of venue.
- We will give you a thank you gift.
- Depending on your circumstances, we will visit each year to catch up with you.
- You will receive feedback about findings of the study, the impact the study is having in Australia, and other Living in Australia information.
- How will I benefit from the study?
Being part of the Living in Australia study will be interesting and fun. You will have the satisfaction of knowing you are part of an important and unique study that will improve the standard of living of present and future Australians.
You will receive annual newsletters informing you about the progress of the study as well as the major findings from the study.
- How long will the interview take?
For most people the interview will take up to 35 minutes to answer. Questions about the household will take about 10 minutes to complete.
You will be asked questions on a range of topics such as education, employment, retirement, income, family, and how you feel about different aspects of your life. Your interviewer will ask everyone in your household aged 15 years or older to answer these questions. One person in your household will also be asked a few questions about the household in general.
It may be that nothing in your life has changed, or that there has only been minimal change. No change is just as important as change. Whatever your situation, we want to hear about it.
- Why do I need to be interviewed every year?
The aim of the Living in Australia study is to get a picture of how Australian households change over time.
Therefore we need to return to every household that has previously participated in the study to see what has or hasn't changed. Your ongoing involvement and support is vital to the success of the study as every individual and family provides unique information that no-one else can give. When you don't take part, the results cannot represent the factors that are important to your stage of life and your needs.
- Why am I asked the same questions every year?
Each year, your interviewer asks you a range of questions, many of which are the same as last year but some are new. You may have wondered why we repeat questions...
Take income, for example. We ask a series of questions each year about the different sources of income you might have, such as wages and salaries, business income, pensions and benefits, and investment income. These questions have not changed since the first time we asked them. The reason for this is so that we can build a consistent picture of people's income over time and how this stays the same or changes. If we were to ask different questions, we would not know what to make of any changes in the data - were they due to real differences in income or simply because we changed the questions or a mixture of both?
Having asked the same income questions of the same people over time in the Living in Australia study, researchers can assess the financial security of different types of Australian households. There is no other data collected like this in Australia.
The proportion of households that are struggling financially each year has been reasonably steady since 2001. Knowing whether it is the same or different households over time is an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle you are helping us put together of life in Australia. Understanding the types of events or circumstances that make it more likely for someone to move into or out of financial difficulty will really assist policy makers help these Australians.
- Must I answer every question?
We recognise that some of the questions we ask can be uncomfortable for you for a variety of reasons, be they cultural, personal or religious.
While we would like to get everyone's input on every topic, if you would prefer not to answer a particular question then please ask your interviewer to move on to the next question or topic. This way you can continue to provide us with information on most of the important issues that we cover.
- Why are the questions so personal?
The decisions that our society and Government make affect our private lives. However, typically it is the things that are kept private that are not well understood. The Living in Australia study asks you personal questions so that informed decisions can be made.
In order to learn about people’s lives, we need information on all the areas that can affect their health, how they feel, their job prospects, housing and finances.
All the information you give us is protected by strict guidelines and the law (Privacy Act, 1988).
Your identifying information is collected for the purpose of the Living in Australia study. Access to your identifying information will be restricted to those who require it for the purpose of administering or conducting the study
- What happens to my answers?
From data collection, to preparing the data for researchers; you are the essential part of this process.
- Is this study voluntary?
Yes, this study is voluntary.
However, because only certain people are chosen to become part of the study, the participation of everyone who is contacted is very important. Your views and experience in Australia are unlike that of anybody else, and your participation is vital to us. If you wish to withdraw your answers before the data is processed you can do so by calling 1800 656 670.
- What happens to the results of the study?
Australia has become part of an international move to build a strong knowledge of the needs of its people. Your participation will ensure this study continues here in Australia. The information you provide is having a long term impact on Australia's direction. Every year that you and other households respond, the study increases in value and in its power to influence decision making.
In 2019, the Honourable Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services, used the 2019 HILDA report to give evidence on the state of the economy.
She stated that “Women’s employment has increased significantly over the period of the [HILDA] longitudinal survey, including in recent weeks and recent years…”. She also stated that “female workforce participation is at record highs. Workforce participation for those over the age of 65 has also been increased [and] more than 100,000 young people got a job in 2017-18.” (Hansard 30/07/2019)
Researchers use the data to help understand the issues for Australians in managing their lives, especially over time. The work they do with the data will be extremely important in influencing the way governments spend our tax dollars. Non-government support agencies will also be using the data to help them ensure they are providing services to the people most in need.
The Living in Australia study has been used by a number of organisations and researchers to provide information to help plan Australia's future. Some examples of how the study has been used include:
- To develop a comprehensive understanding of what pensioners lives are like ( Pension Review by Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs).
- Helped shape the development of Australia's first national Paid Parental Leave Scheme (Honourable Jenny Macklin, 2009 HILDA Annual Report).
- The Australian Social Inclusion Board used HILDA data to analyse trends in family joblessness in Australia and identify the main factors that have driven trends in joblessness. This research also discussed the relationship between family joblessness and income poverty and other forms of disadvantage.
- To examine the characteristics of low-paid jobs (a submission on minimum wages to the Australian Fair Pay Commission).
- To look at the level of debt that households have entered into and their ability to repay that debt (The Reserve Bank of Australia).
- To investigate the role of casual employment in the workforce and found it is often a stepping stone into longer term employment (The Productivity Commission).
Similar studies are carried out in Germany, Canada, USA, Britain, Israel, Sweden, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Belgium. Australia joins the international initiative to have accurate knowledge of its people.
- Can I see the results?
Yes. Here are some of the ways you can see the results:
The results usually refer to the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) study, as this is the research title of the project.
Special offer to all Living in Australia participants
We are pleased to offer a free printed copy of the most recent HILDA Statistical Report. The report is full of interesting statistics about our nation.
If you would like to receive your own personal colour printed and bound report, simply freecall 1800 656 670 or email us.
The report is also available for free download from the HILDA website, as are previous HILDA reports.
- How is my privacy protected?
Your information is protected
We would like to assure you that the study has very strict guidelines to make sure that your identity is protected and the information you provide is kept in strict confidence at all times.
The people involved in the study are committed to ethical research and legally bound to ensure your information is secure. All people involved in the project must sign and comply with the Privacy Act 1988. Your rights are protected by Australian law. Your identifying information is collected for the purpose of the Living in Australia study only. Access to your identifying information is restricted to only those who require it for the purpose of administering or conducting the study.
Roy Morgan is certified to both AS/NZ ISO 9001 and ISO 20252.
If you would like to know more about how your identity is protected, or would like further information concerning your privacy and the information you provide, please telephone Roy Morgan on 1800 656 670 or HILDA@roymorgan.com.
For further information on privacy and confidentiality, please go to any of the links below:
- Who is carrying out the study?
The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne leads a research group that is designing and managing the study.
Roy Morgan, Australia's largest social research organisation, has been contracted to carry out the study interviews since wave 9. Roy Morgan is well respected for its accuracy and high quality data.
- What is the difference between the census and this study?
In Australia, a census is taken every five years.
For a census, the aim is to accurately measure the number and certain key characteristics of the people in Australia on census night, and the dwellings in which they live. All members of the population participate but only a small number of key characteristics are collected. In contrast, longitudinal studies gather more detailed information from a sample of the population. This information is then used to make estimates about the entire population.
The Living in Australia study is a longitudinal study. Longitudinal studies involve revisiting the same respondents over several time periods. The benefit of longitudinal studies is that they allow us to build a picture of how family, individual and household circumstances change over time. For example, by tracing changes in income and joblessness over time for the same set of individuals, we will be able to examine transitions into and out of poverty and attempt to identify factors that cause these changes. Involvement in the Living in Australia study is your opportunity influence Australia's future.
- What if I miss a year?
Missing a year is like taking a piece of the jigsaw puzzle and throwing it out. While we will still be able to see the overall picture, we will need to make assumptions about the size and shape of the missing piece. However, we may not get it right! Only you know exactly what size and shape the last year has taken for you. The more pieces we have, the more accurate our picture will be.
- Living in Australia study
If you have any questions, would like more information, or would like to contact your interviewer, please freecall 1800 656 670 or email HILDA@roymorgan.com
Your interviewer will also be able to help you with any queries you may have when he or she visits you.
If you should have any concerns about the conduct of this study, you are welcome to contact the Executive Officer, Human Research Ethics, The University of Melbourne by calling 03 8344 2073 or by sending a fax to (03) 9347 6739.
The Living in Australia study has shown that nearly one-fifth of the Australian population moves house each year.
Your participation is critical to the success of the study, so please let us know if you are moving.
Moving house is often associated with other changes in your life, such as purchasing your own home, moving in with a partner, changing jobs, beginning study, or moving out on your own. All of these changes are of interest to researchers of the Living in Australia study.
Most people move quite short distances (43 per cent are moves of less than 5 kilometres). If you did move, you may recall being asked about the reasons for moving house. Housing reasons were the most common reasons given for the move (for example, to get a better or larger place), family or personal reasons were next, followed by job or education reasons, then by neighbourhood reasons. Moves for work or education purposes are typically medium to long distance, whereas moves for housing reasons typically involve quite short distances.
- Useful links
Below are some useful links for websites and organisations involved in the survey.
- The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research
- Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey
- FLoSse Research - making HILDA research more accessible
- University of Melbourne
- Roy Morgan
Websites on survey research
- Insights Association
- The American Statistical Association: What is a survey?
- The Market and Social Research Privacy Code and other privacy guidelines
Australian organisations involved in survey research & the Census