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AusPlay Methodology

Engine (formerly ORC International) has been appointed by Sport Australia to collect data for AusPlay. The information below explains the best practice methodology used by Engine to collect AusPlay’s nationally representative data on sport and physical activity participation.

Research and sample design

AusPlay is conducted by computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) from Engine's Melbourne CATI facility.

A copy of the survey questions used by interviewers is available for download.

All Australian residents are in scope of the survey.

From AusPlay’s commencement on 22 October 2015 until 30 June 2019, the survey had an overlapping dual frame design using two sample sources: a random sample of landline phone numbers; and a random sample of mobile phone numbers.

The use of a mobile sample, in conjunction with a landline sample, ensured broad coverage of the in-scope population including, in particular, the mobile-only population (people with a mobile phone but no landline).

On 1 July 2019 AusPlay shifted to a single frame design using one sample source: a random sample of mobile phone numbers. More information is provided below under Related Downloads. A methodology report with full details of the single frame design will be published in November 2020 in line with the regular cycle for these reports.

For the landline sample a randomly selected person aged 15 years or over is selected for an AusPlay interview. For the mobile phone sample the respondent is the mobile phone owner. For either sample, a random child is selected for a child interview using the last birthday method if there are two or more children aged 0-14 in the household and if the respondent is a parent or guardian of those children.

The annual target sample size for AusPlay is 20,000 adults aged 15 years and over, and approximately 3,600 children aged 0-14, spread evenly across the year.

The AusPlay landline sample is stratified into 13 geographic strata based on states and territories, with further splits of the larger states into greater capital city statistical area and the rest of the state.

Under the AusPlay design from 22 October 2015 to 30 June 2019, 50% of the sample came from the landline sample and the other 50% from the mobile sample. As of 1 July 2019, 100% of the sample is from mobile.

AusPlay data is weighted quarterly using a complex weighting method. More information is provided below under Related Downloads, including details of changes made to AusPlay’s weighting from 1 July 2019.

Questionnaire design

The starting point for the AusPlay questionnaire was the previous survey instruments used in the Exercise, Recreation and Sport Survey (ERASS) and the subsequent Australian
Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Multi Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation module. These were used as a reference point, and Sport Australia sought to retain similar questions in AusPlay where possible. However, the design of AusPlay was primarily guided by the
research objectives and the needs of Sport Australia and the sport sector; in order to maximise the utility of the AusPlay survey vehicle, and to ensure that it covered new and emerging issues in the field.

The downloadable fact sheets below provide details about how AusPlay differs to previous national participation surveys.

Fact sheets

Questionnaire design for AusPlay commenced in April 2015 when Sport Australia hosted a design workshop with the sport sector. Representatives from the Federal Department of Health, State/territory Departments of Sport and Recreation (SDSRs) and National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) worked together to co-design the survey topics and concepts. The outcomes of this workshop were passed to Engine to guide their questionnaire design in consultation with Sport Australia. The design process for AusPlay followed best practice guidelines, incorporating two rounds of cognitive testing and a dress rehearsal involving 100 interviews.

The AusPlay questionnaire consists of two modules: a core module that, on average, is 11 minutes in duration and collects the same information every quarter; and ad-hoc modules of varying topics that can be added to the AusPlay core module on a quarterly basis (maximum two minutes average duration).

Core module

The core module collects data on the following topics:

Use of technology

(Adults only)


(Adults only)

Data on these topics is captured through an adults and a children’s questionnaire. The adult questionnaire is for persons aged 15 and over; the children’s questionnaire applies to children aged 0-14. Child questionnaires are completed by the adult respondent if that person is a parent or guardian of a child aged 0-14 in the same household. If a household contains two or more children aged 0-14 then one child is randomly selected for the child interview using the last birthday method. The downloadable documents below show what questions are asked in AusPlay and the flow of question topics in the adults and children’s questionnaires.

Data is collected for almost 400 different activities, which are self-nominated by survey respondents. These activities are collected as inputs and then collapsed into a smaller number of output activities for reporting purposes. To see the full list of input and output activities captured by AusPlay please download the document below. This list is reviewed and updated regularly.

Ad-hoc modules

The design of AusPlay allows for ad-hoc modules containing question topics not included in the core module to be added on a quarterly basis. This allows Sport Australia and the sport sector to cost-effectively leverage AusPlay for new sport and physical recreation data collection. Parties interested in self-funding an ad-hoc module should contact Insights via the email address below.

Physical activity guidelines

The original objectives for AusPlay did not include measurement of the Department of Health physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines. As a result the AusPlay questionnaire was not designed for this purpose. However, using the activity level data collected in AusPlay in conjunction with research conducted by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Insights team at the Sport Australia was able to derive proxy measures against the guidelines. Some of these proxy measures are included in the AusPlay Focus: Women and Girls Participation report published on 22 November 2017.

For more detail on how the proxy measures were derived please download the document below.

Further information

Any questions or requests for further information about AusPlay can be directed to the Insights team at Sport Australia.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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