The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes - 2013 - National Identity

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 2013 was "National Identity". This was the third time this has been the topic of the survey, having previously been the theme for the survey in 1995 and 2003.


A copy of the AuSSA 2013 questionnaire can be found 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 2012, 5000 citizens were randomly selected from the electoral roll. 1636 of them returned a completed questionnaire.


​What questions were asked?

​Questions included:

  • ​How close do you feel to your town/city, state, Australia, Asia?
  • ​What is important for being truly Australian? Being born here? Having Australian Citizenship? Speaking English? Being Christian?
  • ​Are there things about Australia today that make you feel ashamed of Australia?
  • ​How proud of you of Australia in the way democracy works? Economic achievements? Social security system? Scientific achievements? Sporting achievements? It's history?
  • ​Should foreigners be allowed to buy land in Australia?
  • ​Do free trade deals lead to better products becoming available in Australia?
  • ​Do large international companies do more damage to local businesses in Australia?
  • ​Is it possible for people to become fully Australian without sharing Australia's customs and traditions?
  • ​Should racial and ethnic groups blend in to Australia or maintain their distinct customs and traditions?
  • ​Are immigrants good for Australia's economy? Do they increase crime rates?
  • ​Should legal immigrants have access to public education like Australian citizens?
  • ​Should immigration be increased, decreased or kept the same?
  • ​Are strong patriot feelings good for Australia, or do they lead to intolerance?​

​Selected findings

Respondents were asked how important some things were for being "truly Australian". The following graph shows the results of some of these items. Being able to speak English was noted as very or fairly important by over 90% of respondents. Being a Christian was chosen as not important at all for 50% of respondents.

Graph describing how important items are for being truly Australian

Access to further information and results from AuSSA 2013

A summary (codebook) of the results from the AuSSA 2013 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 2013 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)