National Social Housing Survey, 2014; Data Quality Statement

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Quality Statement
METeOR identifier:600874
Registration status:AIHW Data Quality Statements, Archived 06/01/2017

Data quality

Quality statement summary:


  • The 2014 National Social Housing Survey (NSHS) collects information from tenants of three social housing programs - public housing (PH), mainstream community housing (CH) and state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH).
  • The NSHS provides information on characteristics of tenants, information about their housing histories, their satisfaction with their housing and information about their household's use of other health and community services.
  • The response rate for the 2014 survey was 32.4% and differ by mode. Some non-response bias is expected, but this bias has not been measured. 
  • Both sampling and non-sampling errors should be considered when interpreting results.
  • There are major methodological differences between cycles of the NSHS affecting consistency.
Institutional environment:

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is a national agency set up by the Australian Government under the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987 to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare. It is an independent corporate Commonwealth entity established in 1987, governed by a management Board, and accountable to the Australian Parliament through the Health portfolio.

The AIHW aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians through better health and welfare information and statistics. It collects and reports information on a wide range of topics and issues, ranging from health and welfare expenditure, hospitals, disease and injury, and mental health, to ageing, homelessness, disability and child protection.

The Institute also plays a role in developing and maintaining national metadata standards. This work contributes to improving the quality and consistency of national health and welfare statistics. The Institute works closely with governments and non-government organisations to achieve greater adherence to these standards in administrative data collections to promote national consistency and comparability of data and reporting.

One of the main functions of the AIHW is to work with the states and territories to improve the quality of administrative data and, where possible, to compile national data sets based on data from each jurisdiction, to analyse these data sets and disseminate information and statistics.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987, in conjunction with compliance to the Privacy Act 1988, (Cth) ensures that the data collections managed by the AIHW are kept securely and under the strictest conditions with respect to privacy and confidentiality.

For further information see the AIHW website


Data are not collected annually. Surveys for PH and CH were conducted in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010 2012, and 2014. Surveys for SOMIH were conducted in 2005, 2007, 2012, and 2014. For SOMIH tenants in 2014, surveys were completed via mail-out for two jurisdictions (South Australia and Tasmania) and face-to-face interview in the other two jurisdictions (New South Wales and Queensland).

The fieldwork for 2014 was conducted from 6 May–22 July for the ACT. For all other jurisdictions, fieldwork was conducted from 14 May–14 August 2014.

Fieldwork for the SOMIH face-to-face component was undertaken in NSW from the 19 May-5 June and in QLD from 3 June-2 July.

Data on the characteristics of the household and its members relate to the time of the survey. Data on tenant satisfaction relate to the 12 months up to the time of the survey.


Published results from the 2014 NSHS are available on the AIHW website, see National Social Housing Survey 2014: national report. Access to the confidentialised unit record file may be requested through the AIHW Ethics Committee.

Users can request additional disaggregations of data which are not available online or in reports (subject to jurisdiction approval) via the AIHW’s online data request system at Requests that take longer than half an hour to compile are charged for on a cost-recovery basis.

General enquiries about AIHW publications can be made to the Digital & Media Communications Unit on (02) 6244 1032 or via email to

Interpretability:Information to aid in interpretation of 2014 NSHS results are available on the AIHW website including the 2014 NSHS Technical Report, code book and other supporting documentation.
Relevance:The 2014 NSHS includes tenants from PH, CH and SOMIH. The Indigenous Community Housing (ICH) sector was excluded from the survey. All states and territories participated in the survey if the relevant program operated in their jurisdiction. The data were collected via a mail-out self-completed paper questionnaires and face-to-face interviews. All remoteness areas were included in the sample. For the postal component of the survey, the speed of delivery to, and returns from, more remote locations may have affected the number of responses received from tenants in these areas.

Missing data
Some survey respondents did not answer all questions, either because they were unable or unwilling to provide a response. The survey responses for these people were retained in the sample, and the missing values were recorded as not answered. No attempt was made to deduce or impute these missing values.

Response rates and contact rates
The accuracy of the outputs from the 2014 NSHS are affected by the response rates across the jurisdictions and at the national level (see response rate table below).

Overall, 42,827 questionnaires were sent to tenants in PH, CH and SOMIH (South Australia and Tasmania only), of which 12,594 questionnaires were categorised as being complete and useable, representing a response rate for the 2014 survey of 32.4%; considerably higher than the 2012 survey of 16.3%.

For the two SOMIH jurisdictions where the respondents completed the survey completed the survey face-to-face (New South Wales and Queensland), a total of 1,723 interviews were attempted and 1,001 interviews were completed with an overall response rate of 58.1%.

A low response rate does not necessarily mean that the results are biased. As long as the non-respondents are not systematically different in terms of how they would have answered the questions, there is no bias. Given the relatively low response rates for this survey, it is likely there is some bias in the estimates. No adjustments have been made to any potential non response bias. 


Sample size

Response rate

Public housing

























Community housing






















State owned and managed Indigenous housing













Scope and coverage

The 2014 NSHS was designed to meet minimum reliability objectives for key variables for each housing program.

Sample design
Simple random sampling was undertaken for all housing programs except for NSW PH in which stratified sampling was undertaken in order to obtain minimum sample size requirements for each area.

To produce reliable estimates, minimum sample sizes were set for each housing collection: PH (500), CH (350) and SOMIH (500). An additional overall 5350 booster sample was included: NSW PH (4,000) NSW CH (750) and WA PH (600).

The over-sampling of lesser populated states and territories produced a sample that was not proportional to the jurisdiction/housing programs distribution of the social housing population. Weighting was applied to adjust for imbalances arising from execution of the sampling and differential response rates, and to ensure that the results relate to the social housing population.

The weighting for the 2014 survey was calculated as the number of households in each jurisdiction (population) divided by the number of usable surveys (responses).  All population counts were provided by the AIHW. 

Sampling error
The measure used to indicate reliability of individual estimates reported in 2014 was the relative standard error (RSE). Only estimates with RSEs of less than 25% are considered sufficiently reliable for most purposes. Results subject to RSEs of between 25% and 50% should be considered with caution and those with relative standard errors greater than 50% should be considered as unreliable for most practical purposes.

Non-sampling error
In addition to sampling errors, the estimates are subject to non-sampling errors. These can arise from errors in reporting of responses (for example, failure of respondents’ memories, incorrect completion of the survey form), the unwillingness of respondents to reveal their true responses and higher levels of non-response from certain subgroups of the population for example younger working people.

The survey findings are based on self-reported data.


For the 2014 NSHS, caution should be used when comparing trend data or data between jurisdictions due to differences in response rates and non-sampling error.

The 2014 NSHS sampling and stratification methods were similar to the 2012 survey i.e. a sample was randomly selected of each jurisdiction’s PH, SOMIH and CH tenants. As requested by NSW stratified sampling by region/area was undertaken for NSW PH tenancies.

In 2014, the data collected for SOMIH was sourced using two methodologies (via mail-out in two jurisdictions and via face-to-face interview in two jurisdictions). Trend data and comparisons between jurisdictions should therefore be interpreted with caution. 

Surveys in this series commenced in 2001. Over time, modifications have been made to the survey’s methodology and questionnaire design. As noted above, the sample design and the questionnaire of the 2014 survey differs in a number of important respects from previous versions of the survey.

Please refer to data quality statements and technical reports for the relevant surveys before comparing data across surveys.

Source and reference attributes

Submitting organisation:The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Relational attributes

Related metadata references:

Supersedes National Social Housing Survey, 2012; Data Quality Statement AIHW Data Quality Statements, Archived 05/06/2015

Has been superseded by National Social Housing Survey, 2016; Quality Statement AIHW Data Quality Statements, Archived 21/01/2019