The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) makes a range of data available to university researchers. Some of the data is classified as Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs). CURFs contain unidentified unit record data from most of the key ABS social and labour household surveys. Strict provisions concerning confidentiality and access govern their use. Currently, there are over 200 datasets available.
What is a CURF?
- A Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) contains sample data in the form of unit records where the information is not likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. Accordingly, there are no names or addresses of survey respondents in a CURF.
- CURF data is also further confidentialised by reducing the detail of some items (especially locational data) and making small changes to other items such as income.
- CURFs provide the most detailed information which can be released from an ABS survey.
- The basic unit in a CURF may be a household, a family, an income unit or a person. Some CURFs may contain data at more than one unit level.
- To make effective use of a CURF requires basic statistical and analytical skills and ability to understand the concepts underlying the data.
- Most CURFs are supplied in SAS and SPSS format. CURFs from earlier ABS surveys may be in ASCII format.
Types of CURFs
CURFs may be available in either Basic or Expanded format.
Basic CURFs are available through ABS' MicrodataDownload or accessed via the RADL (see Modes of access to CURFs below). Basic CURF data have protections applied to prevent identification of persons and households. For example, age may be grouped into 5-year categories, country of birth collapsed to broader groupings and the level of geography set.
Expanded CURFs are available only through the RADL system (see Modes of access to CURFs below). The RADL protections enable the data to have fewer protections applied, and in some cases, more data items may be available. For example, age may be in single years, more detailed country of birth and more extensive geographic items may be included.
For more information on the benefits and restrictions of the different access' modes refer to the CURF Access Modes and Levels of Detail.
For users new to the RADL the ABS has prepared this guide: ABS Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL). At the end of 2018 RADL's access will be fully replaced by DataLab web-based approach.
What CURFs are available?
The ABS website maintains a list of all available and expected CURFs, and they can be accessed from here. The website includes information on the type of CURF (Basic or Expanded) and modes of access available.
How can I apply for access to a CURF?
Flinders University is a signatory to an agreement between the ABS and Universities Australia concerning the provision and use of CURFs.
Information about the application procedure can be found in here.
Any additional enquiries about the application procedure and use of Australian CURFs at Flinders University should be directed to the Statistical Consultant.