Surveys are critical in informing decision making in Australia, particularly in the health and community services sectors. In such contexts it is crucial that the surveys give a truly epresentative picture, while at the same time not being prohibitively expensive to carry out.
Telephone surveys have filled this role very well for the past thirty years, when virtually every Australian household had a standard phone. The technology of the telephone made this possible, largely replacing the more expensive door-to-door surveys of the past. Such surveys are still not easy, involving many issues of sampling, follow up protocols for numbers that do not answer, how to handle answering machines and much more. Additionally, the growing proportion of unlisted numbers has led to the development of the more expensive Random Digit Dialling (RDD) procedures used in cases where it is essential to get greater coverage.