LifeTimes survey

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is ARCSHS?

ARCSHS is the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society. It is one of a number of specialised centres and institutes within the Faculty of Health Sciences at La Trobe University in Melbourne, and was first established in October 1992. The aims of ARCSHS are:

  • To undertake multidisciplinary research into social and behavioural aspects of sexually transmissible diseases, their prevention and their consequences
  • To focus resources and to provide leadership on both a state and national level in the study of sexually transmissible diseases
  • To provide a firm foundation of knowledge, skills and resources upon which other organisations can draw to assist them in health promotion, STD prevention education and the formulation of public health policies

ARCSHS is the sponsor and host of the LifeTimes survey, which is funded by the Department of Health and Ageing.

Why complete the survey?

The LifeTimes survey provides valuable, up-to-date information to assist a wide range of government and community organisations in providing services that improve the health and wellbeing of gay men who are aged 40 years and over.

How will my survey information be used?

Data from the LifeTimes survey will help guide the development of government and community services for gay men. Your input therefore has the potential to influence how all kinds of service providers interact with individuals in the gay community.

The information you provide will also help us understand what it is like to grow older as a gay man living in Australia. For example, as gay men, what are all the challenges we face? How is it different for HIV-positive gay men? How many of us still experience prejudice or stigmatisation? Some of this research may be reported in journal articles or other publications or presentations, but only in aggregate form; your answers will never be singled out in any way.

All data from this survey will be kept by La Trobe University for a minimum of 7 years, after which it may be destroyed in a secure way.

What does the survey cover?

The LifeTimes survey first asks some general background questions about you, such as your age and education. It then follows with a number of sections that include such topics as overall wellbeing, health, sexual practices, relationships, social support, and living arrangements.

Will my identity be known to anyone if I participate?

No. You will remain anonymous. No identifying information will be collected. The survey has been set up at a secure website address provided by our net space provider. No staff at either the provider site or at ARCSHS will have access to your IP address.

At the start of the survey, we ask for your month/year of birth and your initials. It will not be possible to identify you based on this information, and you do not have to provide this information. However, this survey will happen every year, so if you choose to complete the survey in future years, your month/year of birth and initials will help us to tell which surveys belong to the same person while at the same time ensuring you remain anonymous.

Confidentiality of the results will also be maintained at all times. Only staff working on the LifeTimes project at ARCSHS will have password access to the data.

How long will it take to complete the survey?

The survey will take around 25 minutes to complete. There will be between 100-141 click-to-answer questions to complete and one final question where you can write down your thoughts. The number of questions varies according to what you have to tell us. Each question can be answered simply by clicking on the appropriate button with your computer mouse. You will need to set aside time to fill out the whole survey in one sitting. You will not be able to return to a partially completed survey at a later time, so we ask you to select a time of day where you can go through the survey without distraction. Your progress through the survey will be indicated via a visual indicator located at the bottom of every page.

How do I exit if I decide to end the session but haven’t got to the end of the survey?

To exit the survey simply close your browser window. Partially completed surveys will not be used in this research, so unless you completed the survey by clicking “Submit Answers”, your responses will not be used.

Will I have access to the information I give about myself?

No. Because we do not have access to the identity of any of our participants, we will be unable to provide any individual with information. However, reports that describe the overall findings of the LifeTimes survey will be available for download once they have been completed.

How can I obtain information about the survey results once they are completed?

The availability of the reports will be advertised on the ARCSHS website in the future at So stay tuned.

Will there be a follow up survey?

Yes. LifeTimes will happen every year. By participating each year, you will help us keep track of the changing challenges and experiences of growing older as a gay man. Of course, you do not have to participate in follow up surveys, but if you would like to be notified about when next year’s survey is available, you have the option of providing your email address at the end of this survey.

What can I do if the survey raises any concerns?

If you have any questions about this survey, you can contact Dr. Anthony Lyons at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), La Trobe University:


Phone: 03 9479 8719

If you have any complaints or queries that researchers for this project were unable to answer to your satisfaction, you may contact:

The Ethics Liason Officer, Human Ethics Committee, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, 3083. Phone: (03) 9479 1443. Email:

If completing this survey brings up experiences that have been distressing or leads to further questions about the topics covered, you can also try discussing your concerns by contacting any of the following organisations:


Gay & Lesbian Counselling & Community Services of Australia ( – 1800 18 4527

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations – (02) 9557 9399

National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS – 1800 259 666


Telephone Help, Referral and Outreach Bureau (THROB) – (02) 6247 2726

AIDS Action Council of the ACT – (02) 6257 2855


Gay & Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW – (02) 8594 9596

Positive Life NSW – 1800 245 677


Gay & Bisexual Men’s Line Telephone Service – 1800 181 888

Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council – 1800 880 899


Gay & Lesbian Welfare Association – (07) 3017 1717

Queensland Positive People – 1800 636 241


Gay & Lesbian Counselling Service of SA – (08) 8334 1623

Positive Life SA – (08) 8239 9600


Working It out – (03) 6231 1200

Tasmanian Council on AIDS Hepatitis & Related Diseases – (03) 6234 1242


Gay & Lesbian Switchboard – (03) 9827 8544

AIDSline – 1800 133 392 PLWHA (VIC) – (03) 9865 6772


Gay & Lesbian Community Services of WA – (08) 9420 7201

Western Australian AIDS Council – (08) 9482 0000