General questions

Online or telephone response questions


Where can I find the results?

The results are published on the Australian Marriage Law website.

What is included in the ‘response not clear’ category?

In the Response results there is a category called ‘Response not clear’. This includes unclear and blank returns.

For a response to be categorised as ‘Response not clear’, there is not a clear 'Yes' or 'No' intention of the participant. This includes (but is not limited to) forms where both boxes have been ticked, where there is no marks on the form (blank response) or where the question has been changed to make the answer unclear.

How many responses were unclear?

The number of responses  that were categorised as  ‘Response  not clear’ or where blank form was returned is available in the Response results.

A breakdown by State/Territory and Nationally can be found in Table 1, while the breakdown by Federal Electoral Division can be found in Table 2.

Full published results can be found on the Australian Marriage Law website.

Where are external territories in the data?

External territories (such as Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Jervis Bay and Norfolk Island) are included in their associated Federal Electoral Division. These are footnoted in the Participation and Response result files.

Jervis Bay Territory is included in the Australian Capital Territory Division of Fenner, Norfolk Island is included in the Australian Capital Territory Division of Canberra and Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are included in the Northern Territory Division of Lingiari.

Why isn’t there a breakdown of Yes and No responses by Gender/Age?

The survey form is anonymous with no provision of any information other than a Yes or No response. The barcode on the survey form is used to determine whether the response is legitimately from an eligible Australian and whether the form should be counted. The barcode is separated from the Yes and No responses, and thus the Yes and No responses are not linked to any demographic information such as age or gender.

Which of my returns was counted?

For people who only received one survey form and returned it, the original form was counted.

For people who requested a replacement form, the original form was invalidated and the most recent returned replacement form was counted.

How did the ABS ensure only one response was accepted per person?

To ensure the privacy and security of responses, two separate files were generated for the survey – a participation file and response file.

The participation file contained only the barcodes from each returned form.  This was sent to the ABS from the Processing site where they were checked against a list of authorised barcodes to ensure they were both valid and had been used only once.

What is the difference between a Federal Electoral Division and a Commonwealth Electoral Division?

Federal Electoral Divisions are administered by the Australian Electoral Commission. They are legally prescribed geographic areas of Australia represented by a member of parliament elected at a House of Representatives election. The Divisions used in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey are the current Federal Electoral Divisions as at 24 August 2017.

Commonwealth Electoral Divisions are an approximation of the Australian Electoral Commission Federal Electoral Division boundaries. Commonwealth Electoral Divisions form part of the Non-ABS structures within the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), the ABS standard geographic framework, and are constructed from allocations of whole Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1s). 


How many eligible people did not participate in the survey? How is it calculated?

The number of non-responding eligible Australians is available in the Response results.

A breakdown by State/Territory and Nationally can be found in Table 1, while the breakdown by Federal Electoral Division can be found in Table 2. Full published results can be found on the Australian Marriage Law website

This number is calculated by determining the number of total eligible Australians by Federal Electoral Division, State/Territory and at the National level. The number of clear and unclear responses are added together to come up with the number of participants which is then subtracted from the number of total eligible Australians.

Where are the participation details of people who identify as other gender on the electoral roll?

The participation of eligible Australians with a gender other than male or female recorded on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll is presented under the ‘Age and/or gender nfd.’ category in Tables 1 and 4 of the Participation results, along with Silent Electors and other people whose age is unknown.  This is to ensure confidentiality of data cells with small numbers.

Where are participation details for silent electors?

Participation details of Silent Electors are included in Tables 1 and 4 of the Participation results under ‘Age and/or gender nfd.’ along with persons identifying as ‘other’ gender and whose age is unknown.

What is included in the ‘Age and/or Gender nfd.’ category?

The ‘Age and/or gender nfd.’ category is used for records that do not fit in the other categories. This includes (but is not limited to) silent electors and Defence Force personnel deployed overseas whose age and gender were not provided to the ABS.

Quality and Integrity Statement

How did you make sure people with disabilities, overseas Australians, etc. could respond?

There were many options for people to respond to the survey depending on their circumstances.

These included: use of a trusted person to respond on their behalf, pick up locations, DHS service centres, ABS Customer Assistance Team, online and automated telephony response system.

The ABS also engaged Translating and Interpreting Services (TIS) and the National Relay Service (NRS) to provide additional assistance.

Was there a paperless response option for the survey? How many people used it?

Yes, there were many options for people to respond to the survey depending on their circumstances.

Eligible persons were able to complete their survey using a unique Secure Access Code via an automated telephony response system or an online response form.

Information on the total number of online and automated telephony responses received as part of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey can be found in the Quality and Integrity Statement.

What will happen to my survey form if it is received after 6pm 7 November 2017?

  • If your survey form is received after 6pm 7 November, it will not be included in the survey results. All survey materials (forms and envelopes) will be securely destroyed within 60 days of the publication of the results.   

Why can't I request a replacement survey or Secure Access Code after 6pm on Friday, 20 October 2017?

  • Each time a new survey form or Secure Access Code is requested, the ABS invalidates the previous form so that each eligible Australian has only one response counted (even if multiple have been completed).
  • With many millions of survey forms to process before 15 November, the ABS will begin separating barcodes from survey response from 6pm on Friday, 20 October 2017, in order to anonymise the response and commence the counting process.
  • Once separated, it is not possible to invalidate a survey barcode. For this reason, the ABS cannot issue new forms or Secure Access Codes after 20 October 2017.

I have received a duplicate form. What should I do?

  • If somebody receives a duplicate survey form addressed to them, they should only return one form. Check to see that the barcodes are unique. If there is no one else in the household who has the same or similar name (such as a child or other relative), you should securely dispose of the duplicate material. Unique barcodes for each person ensure that only one response is counted from each eligible Australian.

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.
    Australian Bureau of Statistics
    ReplyPaid 89262
  • QLD
    Australian Bureau of Statistics
    Reply Paid 87289
  • SA
    Australian Bureau of Statistics
    Reply Paid 85062
    ADELAIDE SA 5001
  • VIC
    Australian Bureau of Statistics
    Reply Paid 91204
  • WA
    Australian Bureau of Statistics
    Reply Paid 85114
    PERTH WA 6001

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.

What happens if someone steals a survey form?

  • Stealing a survey form is crime and could lead to prosecution, large fines or imprisonment. Any evidence of theft of survey forms should be quickly reported to local police authorities and the ABS. The ABS takes reports of stolen forms seriously. When reported to it (please use the online request form, or all the Information Line), the ABS will investigate in cooperation with the relevant police authority and where appropriate, Australia Post. The ABS can invalidate any survey form, even if it has already been posted back. Whenever there is evidence a form has been stolen, it will be invalidated and the response will not count.

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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    When will results be published?

    • Results will be published on this 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.

    What do the barcodes on the survey material mean?

    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.

    What if I’m overseas?

    • If you have nominated an overseas postal address on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll, you were 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.

    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.  

    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.

    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.

      Am I eligible to complete the survey via a paperless channel?

      • The following people are eligible to complete their survey through a paperless response channel:
        • People overseas for the entire survey response period
        • People in aged care facilities
        • People with an illness, injury or disability
        • People who cannot access mail or areas with with less frequent mail service
        • People away from home for extended periods of time
        • People in an institution with no mail access.

      How do I request a Secure Access Code? When is the cut off?

      Compatible browsers for the online survey form

      • You can submit your paperless survey response on a large range of browsers and operating systems. All of the latest versions are supported for the following browsers:
        • Internet Explorer 11
        • Microsoft Edge
        • Mozilla Firefox
        • Google Chrome (including iPhone, and Android platforms)
        • Opera
        • Safari

      What devices can I use to complete my online survey form?

      • The online response form should work on any device, as long as you’re using a compatible browser.

      How do I know my response has been received?

      • After submitting your survey response, either online or over the phone, you will get confirmation that your response has been received.  

      Does my Secure Access Code expire?

      • We encourage you to have your say as soon as possible after you receive your Secure Access Code. Your Secure Access Code will work until 6pm on 7 November 2017

      How to complete your survey online

      • Make sure you have your Secure Access Code.
      • Go to marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au/survey
      • Enter your Secure Access Code and click "Validate code”
      • The survey asks just one question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
      • Select only one response. The response you select will go grey
      • Confirm you are a real person, by responding to a question or selecting a tick box
      • Click “Submit survey response”.

      Is the online form accessible? 

      • The ABS worked with Vision Australia to improve the accessibility of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey online forms. Some features of the online forms designed to ensure the security and integrity of the survey are not fully accessible. If users cannot complete the survey online, they can access the same services via the Information Line and Automated Telephone Service (telephone touchtone service). 

      I can't see all of the webpage or the text overlaps. What can I do?

      • The online response form has been designed to ensure it's compatible with a wide range of devices, browsers and operating systems. On some smaller screens, the text or response options may overlap. We recommend you rotate your device (to landscape) to improve your user experience. Please ensure the orientation or auto-rotate function on your device is switched-on. 
      • Alternatively, if you cannot complete the survey online, you can access the same services via the Information Line and Automated Telephone Service (telephone touchtone service).