The purpose of this document is to initiate public consultation regarding the nature and content of the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. The Census and Statistics Act 1905 requires that the “ ... census shall be taken in the year 1981 and in every fifth year thereafter, ... ”. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is preparing to undertake the next Census in August 2016, on a date yet to be determined.
The Census is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the ABS and one of the most important. There are two broad objectives that underpin the Census: firstly, to measure accurately the number and key characteristics of people in Australia on Census night and the dwellings in which they live; and secondly, to provide timely, high quality and relevant data for small geographic areas and small population groups, to complement the rich but broad level data provided by ABS surveys. The Census also provides a reliable basis for the estimation of the population of each of the states, territories and local government areas.
It is vital the Census continues to adapt its means of engaging the public and collecting information. The ABS will look to continue its path towards a completely Digital Census, with the majority of households completing their Census form online in 2016.
A review of all topics is a priority for the 2016 Census to ensure the continuing relevance of the Census in contemporary Australia. It is expected that demand for new topics in the 2016 Census will be high. However, it is not sustainable to continue to expand the number of questions asked on the Census form. The ABS needs to ensure the relevance of the Census, without increasing respondent burden and costs associated with a longer questionnaire.
This publication describes the proposed procedures for the 2016 Census and provides an initial view of the topics to be reviewed or included. Users of Census data and others are invited to comment on any aspect of the conduct and content of the Census by 31 May 2013.
As the Census development continues, the ABS will be consulting Census users about other aspects of the program.