Guide to occupations of debtors

Learn more about how we produce the Causes of personal insolvency.


We publish annual statistics on the occupations of debtors. Until 2011–12, we published this information in our annual report.

Data collection

Every debtor is required to lodge a completed statement of affairs form with us. There are questions about the socioeconomic characteristics of the debtor on this form. We compile our statistics from this information.

When a bankruptcy is the result of a sequestration order, there may be a delay before the bankrupt lodges a statement of affairs. The sequestration order does not report on most of the socioeconomic characteristics of the bankrupt. When this occurs, we report the record as not stated. We update our records when the bankrupt lodges his or her statement of affairs form. We do not revise our statistics with this updated data. Bankruptcies resulting from sequestration orders accounted for 11% of bankruptcies in 2013–14.


The statement of affairs provides a free text box for debtors to nominate their usual trade or profession. We classify these responses using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).

We don’t ask debtors for details of the skills or tasks associated with their occupation. As a result, we may be inconsistent when we code occupations. For example, if a debtor states that they are a property developer, we may classify this occupation in sales representatives and agents (property manager) or education professionals (land economist or valuer).

Information on the number of people employed by occupation is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics publication Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, catalogue number 6291.0.55.003. The number of insolvent debtors may not be directly comparable to the population. Some debtors may be unemployed at the time of their insolvency.

Defining a business related personal insolvency

When we ask debtors what the main reason for their insolvency was, we ask them to choose from a list of causes. This list separates business and non-business related causes. If a debtor selects a business related cause, we report this as a business related personal insolvency.

We report on proceedings administered under the Bankruptcy Act 1966. For example, a carpenter is operating as a sole trader. Due to economic conditions, he or she becomes bankrupt. We report this as a business related personal insolvency.

Corporate insolvency statistics are available from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). For example, a construction company enters external administration. This is a corporate insolvency in ASIC’s statistics. It does not appear in our statistics.

Comparison with other datasets

Statistics on personal insolvencies can count the number of administrations or the number of people. When an insolvency proceeding involves two or more partners, it is counted as one administration. Statistics based on the number of people are likely to be higher than statistics based on the number of administrations.

We report on the occupations of debtors and the main cause of their insolvency based on the number of people.

The statistics in this publication are the same as in Causes of Personal Insolvency, but they may not match data that we have released in other publications. Because we record personal insolvency activity on a live system, our information is subject to change. Our publications are correct as at the time of compilation.

Data quality

We take great care to ensure that the personal insolvency statistics are correct and accurate at the time of compilation.

Information continues to be processed and stored in our systems after we release our statistics, however we do not revise these statistics. Delays in the receipt, processing and administration of personal insolvencies may affect our statistics.


We do not revise our statistics unless we identify an error. From time to time, we may enhance our reporting. Our guides and other explanatory materials advise of the changes and the impacts on the data