The principal objectives of the Rights in Australia project were: to establish the level of support for civil liberties and civil rights among Australians; to determine the firmness or solidity of Australians' attitudes to civil liberties; to explore how Australians make up their mind in specific civil liberties controversies, especially where there are competing sides to a situation; and to identify principal characteristics which might affect the support or rejection of certain civil liberties. This data release represents the first stage in the project: the surveying of a representative sample of the Australian population. The second stage (ADA No. 619) comprises interviews with a 'decision makers' sample - individuals from three groups, the legislature, the judiciary and the executive (public servants, public prosecutors and police officers).
The household survey consisted of a telephone interview, followed by a questionnaire distributed by mail. The telephone interview began with questions designed to establish a general measure of the respondent's attitudes to equality of rights and tolerance of actions against the government. This was followed by a section dealing with more specific rights issues - freedom of speech, racial discrimination, and freedom of choice, including censorship, euthanasia, abortion and homosexuality. Further sections dealt with: legal rights - right to trial, right to trial by jury, contact with the police; sexual discrimination; racial prejudice towards Asians and Aboriginals; and the issue of a Bill of Rights for Australia. The mail survey consisted of additional questions covering the same range of issues. In the telephone interview, background information was collected on political orientation, vote at last election, interest in politics and compulsory voting.
Demographic information collected about the respondent included age, sex, country of birth and year of arrival in Australia, citizenship status, age starting and leaving school, type of school attended, highest qualification, religion and frequency of church attendance, marital status, numbers of children and numbers in the household, occupation and labour force status, trade union membership and household income.