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About the data

Census, 1971–2021
Service Industry Surveys, 1993/94–2006/07
Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities, 1997–2007
Audiovisual industries – country of birth

Statistics in the Employment section of Screen Australia’s website are compiled by Screen Australia from primarily unpublished data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

There are three main sources of data on the number of people working in the audiovisual industries: the Census of Population and Housing (Census), Service Industry Surveys (SIS) and Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities Survey (WSCLAS – cat. no. 6281.0), which is a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS – cat. no. 6202.0).

Each survey differs in scope, is compiled over different reporting periods and uses a variety of data collection methods. The SIS are based on a sample of companies who report the number of workers employed in the last pay period in the financial year; they include all full-time, part-time and casual workers. The Census asks individuals to report their main source of income in the week prior to Census night. The WSCLAS also surveys individuals but asks respondents to indicate if they have received any form of payment from involvement with film, television and interactive content industries over a 12-month period.


Census, 1971–2021

Census employment data since 1971 is available at Research: Statistics: Employment, covering eight survey periods: 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011, 2016 and 2021. The most recent Census was conducted on August 2021. The next Census will be conducted in 2026.

The Census of Population and Housing is the largest statistical operation undertaken by the ABS. It aims to accurately measure the number of people in Australia on Census night, their key characteristics, and the dwellings in which they live. Except for foreign diplomats and their families, visitors to Australia are counted, regardless of how long they have been in the country or how long they plan to stay. Australian residents out of the country on Census night are not included. For employment data, the person’s state or territory is their usual place of residence, not where they were on Census night or where the work was undertaken.

Employment data is categorised using industry and occupations definitions, which have changed over the years – the former negligibly, the latter substantially. See Industry and occupation definitions. Screen Australia has selected appropriate industry categories, and all occupations within these selected industry categories.


Service Industry Surveys, 1993/94–2006/07

Service Industry Surveys are conducted by the ABS for various industries from time to time, and their scope varies depending on the individual survey.

See Industry and occupation definitions for the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC) categories used for the survey.

Service Industry Surveys were conducted of the film exhibition industry in 1979/80, 1986/87, 1993/94, 1996/97 and 1999/00, and of the video hire industry in 1999/00. The ABS published data from these surveys in Motion Picture Exhibition (cat. no. 8654.0) and Video Hire Industry (cat. no. 8562.0). No updates are available as no further ABS surveys of these industries have been undertaken.

The ABS published SIS data for digital game development services for the first time for 2006/07 in Digital Game Development Services Australia 2006/07 (cat. no. 8515.0). The survey included all Australian businesses that generated income predominantly from the development of digital games for a range of formats, including, but not limited to, major consoles, handheld consoles, personal computers and mobile phones. As there is no specific ANZSIC category for digital game development services, the list of businesses was manually compiled by the ABS from information provided by industry associations, supplemented by web-based research.

SIS data for television, film and video production and post-production is available for five survey periods: 1993/94, 1996/97, 1999/2000, 2002/03 and 2006/07. Between 1993/94 and 1999/00, the data was published by the ABS as Film and Video Production and Distribution (cat. no. 8679.0). Film and video distribution has not been included since 2002/03, with the ABS instead publishing Television, Film and Video Production (cat. no. 8679.0), which encompassed businesses mainly engaged in film and video production and those engaged in providing commercial television broadcasting services. Television had previously been published in Radio and Television Services (cat. no. 8680.0) in 1993/94 and 1996/97 and in Television Services (cat. no. 8559.0) in 1999/00. Separate post-production data was published for the first time in 2006/07 in Television, Film and Video Production and Post-Production Services (cat. no. 8679.0); previously it was presented as part of production data.

In 2006/07, the scope for film and video production and post-production services included all employing and significant non-employing businesses classified, on the ABS Business Register, to the film and video production and post-production services classes of the ANZSIC.

Significant non-employing businesses were defined as having an annual turnover of at least $84,000 for motion picture and video production activities and $70,000 for post-production services and other activities. They contributed 22 per cent to the estimated number of businesses, 5.4 per cent to estimated total income and 5.1 per cent to estimated employment in 2006/07 (accounting for 77.3 per cent of the total number of working proprietors and partners).

Non-employing businesses were excluded from previous surveys. However, top-line figures for 2002/03 have since been adjusted to include significant non-employing businesses while other figures have been adjusted to correct statistical errors; where possible, these revised figures are used. According to the revised estimates, non-employing businesses contributed 19.6 per cent to the estimated number of businesses, 3.7 per cent to estimated total income and 1.8 per cent to estimated employment in 2002/03.

Counts of businesses include only those operating at 30 June. Employment estimates include only those persons working for businesses during the last pay period of June (or the last pay period of the month specified). Financial estimates include the activity of any business that ceased or commenced operations during the financial year.


Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities, 1997–2007

The ABS has conducted the household LFS since 1960. The survey was undertaken on a quarterly basis before February 1978 and has been conducted monthly since then. The purpose of the LFS is to provide information on the labour market activity of the usually resident civilian population of Australia aged 15 and over.

Currently, the LFS is based on a multi-stage area sample of private dwellings (about 22,800 houses, flats, etc.) and a list sample of non-private dwellings (hotels, motels, etc.), covering about 0.24 per cent of the Australian population.

As part of the LFS, the ABS periodically collects data on the number of people involved in work related to various culture and leisure activities, classified by type of activity. It includes key characteristics of these people, the nature of the work (whether paid or unpaid), and details of other jobs held during a 12-month period. This data is available for four survey periods: 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2007. In the latest WSCLAS, information was collected through interviews conducted over a two-week period during April 2007.

The survey’s scope encompasses all persons aged 15 years and over who were usual residents of private dwellings, except members of the Australian permanent defence forces, certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, overseas residents in Australia and members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia.

When making comparisons between WSCLAS of different years, it is important to be aware of changes in methodology and questionnaires. In 1997, information was obtained from two persons aged 15 years and over in each household. In 2001, 2004 and 2007, information was obtained from a responsible adult who answered on behalf of one randomly selected person aged 15 and over in each household. Respondents were asked if they had been involved in work related to any culture or leisure activities in the previous 12 months, with the interviewer reading out the selected activities over the phone as prompts.


Audiovisual industries – country of birth

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has been using the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) for the identification of country units since it was first published in 1998. The 2011 edition is Revision 1 of the Second Edition which was released in 2008.

Prior to the 2011 Census, country groupings and statistics in the Employment section of Screen Australia’s website were generated from key data sets acquired from the ABS. 2011 and 2016 Census data used to calculate statistics for country of birth by industry was generated from the ABS’s Employment, Income and Unpaid Work Classifications>Birthplace>Country of Birth of Person database using the ABS's TableBuilder service. This data was further manipulated by Screen Australia to replicate Screen Australia's previous country groupings to maintain the time-line series.

ABS 2011 Level 1 groupings:

1. Oceania and Antarctica
2. North-West Europe
3. Southern and Eastern Europe
4. North Africa and the Middle East
5. South-East Asia
6. North-East Asia
7. Southern and Central Asia
8. Americas
9. Sub-Saharan Africa
10. Supplementary Codes (comprising inadequately described, not stated, at sea and overseas visitor).

Screen Australia country groupings:

1. Africa
2. Americas
3. Asia
4. Australia
  – Indigenous*
  – Others
5. Middle East
6. Oceania (except Australia)
7. United Kingdom & Ireland
8. Other Europe & former USSR
9. Unknown.

For a comprehensive list of categories see:
2901.0 – Census Dictionary, 2011: Country of Birth of Person.

* Indigenous statistics were generated from the ABS's Employment, Income and Unpaid Work Classifications>Indigenous Status database.