Skip to main content

Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF), TableBuilder & HILDA

About this guide

Only current Macquarie University postgraduate researchers and staff can access CURFs data

What are CURFs?

A Confidentialised Unit Record File consists of responses to surveys or censuses that have had specific identifying information about persons and organisations removed. CURFs contain the most detailed information available from the ABS.

There is a full list of the available and expected microdata sets on the ABS website.  

Information about applying for a range of ABS microdata products is available from the Microdata Entry Page.  

Applying for CURFs

Only current Macquarie University postgraduate researchers and staff can access CURFs data.

Please use your Macquarie University email address when applying

  1. Register yourself as a user in MiCRO.
  2. Join Macquarie University in MiCRO.
  3. The Macquarie contact officer will verify that you are affiliated with the university.
  4. You must read the Responsible Use of ABS Microdata user guide.
  5. Apply for access to the Microdata you require in MiCRO.
  6. The contact officer will endorse the application in MiCRO and submit it to ABS.

See the ABS website for more information about the application process. 

Remote Access Data Lab | RADL

RADL is the secure data query service that approved users access via the ABS website. Users can submit queries in SAS, SPSS or Stata against Expanded CURFs that are kept within the ABS environment.

More detailed CURFs are only available in RADL and not on CD ROM because they have to be kept within the ABS environment.

Information is available in the Getting Started with the RADL chapter of the  ABS Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) User Manual.


Do I need to apply to access a CURF that Macquarie University already has?

Yes. Each person who wishes to use a CURF must be individually approved by the ABS to use it - even if the organisation already holds the CURF.

What type of research can a CURF be used for?

CURFs are used  by researchers and statisticians investigating a wide range of social or labour related topics. Some typical applications include production of papers, journal articles, books, PhD theses, microsimulation, modelling and conducting detailed analyses. Data contained in a CURF is also used for producing detailed tabulations requiring data in a disaggregated form.

What skills do I need to use CURFs?

CURF data  is available in SAS, Stata and SPSS formats and can be loaded to various spreadsheets. The data is available either on CD-ROM or in the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL).

An extensive documentation file is provided for each CURF and includes a list of data items with their start positions and lengths, code values and category labels. The documentation also provides weighted and unweighted frequencies of each code value.

What is MiCRO?

MiCRO is the online CURF application and approval system.

How long do I have access to a CURF? 

You can continue to use CURFs until the completion of the Statistical Purpose for which your access was granted. Expanded CURFs are subject to an annual renewal process, for more information about this process read 'Annual Renewal of CURF Access'. After twelve months, ABS will ask if the Expanded CURF is still required for the original statistical purpose. If the CURF is still required, but the purpose of the research changes, a new Statistical Purpose will need to be submitted to the ABS. 

What is meant by statistical purpose?

 It is a legal requirement that applicants for CURF access supply a statistical purpose for their use of a CURF.

The statement of statistical purpose should show that there is a clear objective to the analysis and demonstrate that access to the CURF is essential to undertake that analysis. Statements such as 'academic research' or 'policy research' without further detail are not in themselves adequate descriptions of statistical purpose, and will not be approved by the ABS.

You must not match, reweight, link, merge, augment or make any similar references between unit files. Identifying individual records to produce very fine tabulations is also not permitted. 

Examples of suitable statistical purposes include: 

  • estimation of population characteristics to provide indicators of financial literacy of Australian households
  • statistical modelling of predictors and correlates of employment and work performance among those with carer responsibilities compared to persons without these responsibilities
  • use of data as input to mathematical models to enable analysis of impacts of potential policy changes in the area of health insurance
  • study the relationship between disability and labour market outcomes to target future employment programmes

ABS reserves the right to seek more information from applicants if it is not able to readily determine whether an application should be approved as supplied. 

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics  2012, CURF FAQ.

CURFs contact officers

Phanh Oudomlith



Sean Bullock



Latest ABS news

ABS logo