Engaging Ethnic Communities
On Wednesday 22 February the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Victorian Multicultural Commission conducted a multicultural and multifaith community consultation on the upcoming 2006 Census of Population and Housing.
The fifteenth Census to be conducted by the ABS, will take place on Tuesday 8 August, 2006. The Census aims to accurately measure the number of people in Australia on Census Night, their key characteristics, and the type of homes in which they live.
Questions on the Census form about ancestry, religion, birthplace and languages spoken are used by a variety of organisations for allocating and targeting services to particular cultural groups.
Victoria has a population which is rich in cultural, ethnic and religious diversity. At the last Census, in 2001, Victorian communities were made up of people from 233 countries who spoke 180 languages and dialects.
"It is important to ensure that all communities are accurately counted and that all of the questions on the Census form are completed," said Andrew Henderson, Director of Census, Victoria.
"Because the Census counts every person in Australia," said Mr Henderson, "it is the main source of accurate statistics on Australian communities, both large and small."
The consultation continues a long history of ethnic community engagement in Census taking. As far back as the 1857 Victorian Colonial Census, 15 Chinese interpreters were employed to help ensure an accurate count.
The consultation is part of an ongoing effort to gain and maintain trust in the Census amongst ethnic communities.
"We understand that the past experiences of many migrants to Australia mean that trust is an important issue," said Mr Henderson. "A big part of gaining that trust is in making sure everyone knows that Census information is kept strictly confidential."
After Census forms are processed, all names, addresses and other information that might identify individuals is removed from Census records. The personal information put on Census forms is confidential and will not be given to any other Government organisation or individual. Individuals' information is protected by law.
This initiative forms part of a broader national program.