The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes - 2015 - Work orientations

The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA) is Australia’s main source of data for the scientific study of the social attitudes, beliefs and opinions of Australians, how they change over time, and how they compare with other societies.

The survey is used to help researchers better understand how Australians think and feel about their lives. It produces important information about the changing views and attitudes of Australians as we move through the 21st century. Similar surveys are run in other countries, so data from AuSSA survey also allows us to compare Australia with countries all over the world.

AuSSA is also the Australian component of the International Social Survey Project (ISSP). The ISSP is a cross-national collaboration on surveys covering important topics. Each year, survey researchers in some 40 countries each do a national survey using the same questions. Here are some examples of surveys in other countries that are the equivalent to AuSSA:


The ISSP focuses on a special topic each year, repeating that topic from time to time. The topic for 2015 was "Work orientations". This was the fourth time this has been the topic of the survey, having previously been the theme for the survey in 1989, 1997 and 2005.


A copy of the AuSSA 2015 questionnaire is available at the Australian Data Archive site.

How were participants selected?

AuSSA aims to survey a representative sample of adult Australians. The fairest way of doing that is to draw a random sample from the Australian Electoral Roll. This means every Australian citizen has an equal chance of having their views included in the survey, and means that researchers are able to use statistical techniques to make inferences about Australian society overall on the basis of characteristics of the sample.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) supplies name and address information for the project in accordance with Item 3 of subsection 90B(4) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The information is provided to ACSPRI by the AEC on a confidential basis and is not used for any other purpose than to contact participants to invite them to participate in the survey. The name and address information cannot be linked to the survey data, and is not retained when the survey is finished.

In 2015, 5000 citizens were randomly selected from the electoral roll. Each of them were posted an explanatory letter, followed by a questionnaire booklet and reply paid envelope. Up to three reminder mailings were sent for participants who did not return a booklet. 1211 of them returned a completed questionnaire.

What questions were asked?

Questions included:​

  • ​Would you enjoy having a paid job even if you didn't need the money?
  • ​How important is job security? High income? Opportunities for advancement? An interesting job? Independence? Helping other people? Useful to society? Being able to decide days/times of work?
  • ​Have you given up job opportunities for the benefit of your family life?
  • ​Have you been discriminated against, harrassed or bullied at work?
  • ​Do workers need strong trade unions?
  • ​How often do you work at home or work on weekends?
  • ​What control do you have over your working hours?
  • ​How difficult would it be to take time off during normal working hours?
  • If unemployed, what would you be willing to do to get a job?​​


​Selected findings

​Over 70% of respondents agree or strongly agree that they would enjoy having a job even if they didn't need the money. 25% of respondents agree or strongly agree that a job is just a way of earning money.

Results to questions about paid work

​Almost 30% of respondents report that it would be somewhat difficult or very difficult to take an hour or two off work to attend to personal or family matters.

Results of how difficult it would be to take an hour or two off work to attent to personal or family matters

Access to further information and results from AuSSA 2015


A summary (codebook) of the results from the AuSSA 2015 is available to view in your web browser


AuSSA data is lodged in the public domain by its deposit in the Australian Data Archive (ADA) - AuSSA 2015 archive. The ADA provides online analysis tools for those with basic data analysis skills who wish to use AuSSA in their own research. In addition, the data file can be downloaded free of charge for your own further analysis.​


For more information:

Tel. 1800 122 251 (free call)