FAQ

How will the survey be conducted?

  • From 12 September 2017, survey materials will be mailed progressively over two weeks to all eligible Australians on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll.
  • The envelope containing the survey form will include a Reply Paid envelope and instructions on how to complete the survey.
  • Survey forms must be completed in accordance with the instructions provided in the survey materials.
  • Each eligible Australian is responsible for the completion of their survey form. Completion of the survey form is voluntary.
  • If you need help to complete your survey, you are encouraged to seek help from someone you trust.
  • Completed surveys must be mailed back in the Reply Paid envelope provided. Please return the completed form straight away. (To ensure your response counts, you’re encouraged to send it back by 27 October 2017).
  • If you choose not to participate, please destroy your survey materials.

Who is eligible to participate in the survey?

  • To be eligible, you must have been enrolled on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll, or made a legitimate application for enrolment, by midnight on 24 August 2017 and be eligible to vote in a federal election as at 24 August 2017.

When will my survey materials arrive?

  • Survey materials will be mailed progressively over two weeks, from 12 September 2017.
  • If you have not received your survey materials by 25 September 2017, you can request replacement survey materials via Contact us.
  • Please wait until 25 September 2017 before requesting new survey materials – your materials may still be on their way!

What if I’m overseas?

  • Australians overseas have multiple options to participate in the survey.
  • If you are temporarily overseas, you may be able to complete your survey form before you leave or after you return.
  • If you have nominated an overseas postal address on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll, you will be sent a letter including a unique 16-digit Secure Access Code. You can use this code to submit your response online or by phone from 25 September 2017. You can also request a Secure Access Code via Contact us from 25 September 2017.
  • If you are overseas for the entire period, you can ask a trusted person to receive your form on your behalf, open it, complete it based on your instruction and return it to the ABS.

What if I work in the Australian Defence Force or in the Antarctic?

  • Australians on deployment in the Antarctic or with the Defence Force will receive advice via their employers on how to participate in the survey.
  • See the Silent electors page for more information.

What if I am a silent elector?

  • The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have taken care to protect the privacy of silent electors, and members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and  Australian Federal Police (AFP) who are registered with the AEC as deployed overseas. If you are a silent elector or a registered ADF or AFP member, the AEC will use the information it holds to send you a survey form on the ABS’ behalf.
  • As survey forms for silent electors are being distributed by the AEC silent electors will likely receive their survey forms at a different time to their neighbours.
  • See the Silent electors page for more information.

I have heard you can buy survey materials or responses online. Is this true? 

  • The sale and/or purchase of survey materials or responses may be an offence under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 or the Commonwealth Criminal Code.
  • An offence under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 carries a maximum penalty of $2,100. An offence under the Commonwealth Criminal Code carries a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment.
  • The ABS, in partnership with several online marketplaces (including eBay, Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, Gumtree), have confirmed listing survey materials or responses for sale does not comply with their policies and these listings will be blocked and removed.  

If someone correctly fills out a survey form but draws some graffiti on it, is it still valid?

  • Survey forms should be clearly marked in one of the 'yes' or 'no' boxes with a dark pen.
    • Graffiti, or comments written on survey forms, could invalidate the survey form if a clear 'yes' or 'no' response cannot be determined.
    • There will be systems and clerical processes in place to assist with this process.
    • Mark just one box on the form with a dark pen and make no other marks on your form to ensure your survey response is counted.

    What will happen if someone includes other material in the return envelope, for example glitter?

    • The Reply Paid envelope is to be used for the completed survey form only.
    • It cannot be used for correspondence, complaints or other communication.
    • Any extraneous material in the envelope with the survey form will be destroyed.
    • Due to processing machinery or possible contamination, this may also result in the completed survey form also being destroyed and not processed.

    When will results be published?

    • Results will be published on the ABS website on 15 November 2017.

    What will happen to my form after the survey?

    • The completed survey material and envelopes will be securely destroyed within 60 days of the publication of the results.

    Will fines be imposed if eligible Australians choose not to complete the survey?

    • No, the survey is not compulsory.
    • There will be no fines if people choose not to participate.
    • The ABS encourages all eligible Australians to have their say.

    How is my privacy protected?

    • Survey responses will be anonymous, confidential and protected under the secrecy provisions of the Census and Statistics Act 1905.
    • See the Privacy Policy for more information.

    What do the barcodes on the survey material mean?

    I want to do my survey online rather than by post - can I?

    • The Australian Marriage Law Survey is a postal survey.
    • Paperless methods are only available in limited circumstances. 
    • You cannot ask to complete your survey online just because it’s your preference to do so.

    How do I authorise a trusted person?

    • If you cannot access or complete your survey form (for example, if you’re overseas or due to illness, injury or disability), you can authorise another person you trust to assist you or to complete the survey on your behalf.
    • A trusted person can be a friend, family member or another person that you trust to complete the form on your behalf.
    • See Who is a trusted person? for more information.

    Can I get a replacement form if I lose mine?

    • Lost or spoilt survey forms can be replaced.
    • Requests for replacement forms must be made by the eligible Australian themselves or a legally authorised person (ie a person with power of attorney, authorised carer for person with severe disability etc).
    • Requests for replacement materials will only be accepted until 6pm (local time) 20 October 2017 and details on how to do this will be published on the ABS website when finalised.

    What should I do if I find a Australian Marriage Postal Survey letter?

    If you find personally addressed mail on the ground, you can either put it into the correct letterbox if it is nearby, or return it to an Australian Post Office for it to be process again.

    What do I do if I receive incorrect mail at my street address?

    • If you receive mail addressed to your address but it is not for you or anyone who uses the address, simply:
      • mark it as 'return to sender - unknown at this address'
      • place the item in a red street posting box or hand it to staff at any post office for return
    • If the mail is addressed to a different address and has been delivered to you incorrectly, simply:
      • place the item in a red street posting box or hand it to staff at any post office
    • In this case, there is no need to write anything on the envelope.
    • If this is a regular or ongoing issue, please contact Australia Post so they can investigate.

    Can I post a photo of my survey form on social media?

    ABS has strong measures in place to ensure the security of survey materials and the privacy of Australians participating in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. We encourage people not to compromise their own privacy and the security of their survey response by publicly displaying  the barcodes on the survey materials online.

    If I don’t complete the survey, will it be automatically counted as a “yes” or “no”?

    No. If you do not complete and return your survey form, a response will not be recorded.

    I’m worried about my privacy, can I cut off / black out the barcode on the survey form?

    • Any missing barcodes or marks that obscure barcodes will invalidate the survey form, and the response will therefore not be counted.

    Can I get someone else to fill out my form for me?

    • The ABS encourages people needing assistance to complete their survey form to seek help from someone they trust.
    • If a person cannot access their survey form (for example, if overseas), or complete their survey form independently, they can authorise another person they trust to assist them with their survey, or to complete the survey form on their behalf.
    • If a person can not complete the form as requested, they should politely decline.
    • A person cannot self-declare themselves to be a trusted person for someone else.

    If I don't get a survey form in the mail for whatever reason, how do I get another one?

    I have damaged or lost my Reply Paid Envelope for my form, can I get a new one?

    • You can simply write the return address of the ABS location for your state or territory on any envelope and send it back to the ABS. No postage stamp will be required.
    • ALL NSW, ACT, TAS, NT
      Australian Bureau of Statistics
      ReplyPaid 89262
      STRATHFIELD NSW 2135
    • QLD
      Australian Bureau of Statistics
      Reply Paid 87289
      NORTHGATE QLD 4013
    • SA
      Australian Bureau of Statistics
      Reply Paid 85062
      ADELAIDE SA 5001
    • VIC
      Australian Bureau of Statistics
      Reply Paid 91204
      DANDENONG SOUTH VIC 3164
    • WA
      Australian Bureau of Statistics
      Reply Paid 85114
      PERTH WA 6001