2902.0 - Census Update (Newsletter), Jul 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/07/2006   
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Time Capsule

How Australia might look in 99 years time is a matter for speculation. But the people of 2105 will certainly have an idea about how we lived in 2006.

The lives of leaders and other newsworthy figures of our day will be recorded, but they are not the only ones who have a chance to be a part of history.

In the 2006 Census, all respondents have the option of having their Census information saved for future generations. This option is called the Census Time Capsule. If people answer 'yes' to this option the personal information on their Census form will be microfilmed and kept securely for 99 years by the National Archives of Australia.

After this time the information will be publicly released. It will be available to historians and genealogists for study. It will also be available to your own descendants. It will provide an valuable insight into how we lived at the beginning of the 21st Century.

The Census Time Capsule is not a 'capsule' as such but secure storage areas within the purpose built repositories of the National Archives. These special areas are accessible only to authorised National Archives staff.

This will be the second Census in which Australians have had the option of saving their Census information in this way. The first was in 2001. In 2001, just over 50% of people chose to have their information preserved. Before that an individual's Census information was destroyed after being processed into statistics.

The 2001 Time Capsule project came into being after the Federal Government accepted the recommendation from the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs report, Saving Our Census and Preserving Our History, which called for the retention of personally-identified Census information.

This report stated that "saving this data for future research, with appropriate safeguards, will make a valuable contribution to preserving Australia’s history for future generations".

Since then it has been decided that the Time Capsule option will be made a permanent feature of the Census.

Question 60 on the household 2006 Census form (question 54 on the personal Census form) is where people can choose to become part of the Time Capsule project.

Census information will only be retained for people who select 'yes' to the option. Each individual in a household will have the choice of whether they want to have their information retained. After the information of those who chose 'yes' is copied on to microfilm their Census forms will be destroyed. All Census forms are destroyed at the end of processing, and the ABS does not keep any copies of these forms.

Information held in the 2001 Time Capsule will be publicly available from 7 August, 2100 and information in the 2006 Time Capsule will be publicly available from 8 August, 2105.