2902.0 - Census Update (Newsletter), Jul 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/08/2003   
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Using Census Data for Strategic Planning

This case study is provided by the Strategic Planning Unit, City of Greater Bendigo. How a local government uses census and other ABS data in planning and decision making.

"The City of Greater Bendigo's Strategic Planning Unit is responsible for large scale strategic planning projects that require input from a minimum of two Council Units. Projects adhere to triple bottom line principles, and use expertise from across the organisation. Strategic Planning regularly uses census data for the development of strategic plans and decision-making. Census data is used in a wide range of applications, from social through to land-use planning frameworks. Census data is the first port of call for background research to any strategic planning document. The Unit also turns to census data when planning the provision of future residential needs.

A number of Bendigo's major Strategic Plans have referenced ABS data. The City Of Greater Bendigo Housing Audit referred to both the 1996 and 2001 Census , to discuss Bendigo's population information, in comparison to Melbourne and Regional Victoria. CDATA 2001 was referenced for up-to-date population statistics. Income, household size, household type and employment statistics enabled a valuable degree of interpretation about the state of Bendigo's housing market. In addition, Australian Social Trends (from the ABS web site) provided useful information about housing trends and attendant issues. The Department of Infrastructure's "Know Your Area" web site was also referred to, for its population projections, based on the 1996 Census data. Council's "Health and Wellbeing Strategy" and the "Heathcote Township Strategy", have also referred to census data, for background information and to enable interpretation of trends.

The Strategic Planning Unit produces a 'snapshot' series, with topics reflecting the strategic work undertaken, and includes "2001 Census Results" and "Bendigo Community Profile", which are based on ABS data, amongst other data sources. These are made available to the public on request. Members of the community often phone requesting factual information about Bendigo. We have been approached by developers, business people, and local schools, requesting information so that they can envisage future growth trends, and plan for the future. We usually advise them to access census data."