The ABS Census of Population and Housing provides a wealth of information about Australia's people, their dwellings and where they live. The Census is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the ABS and one of the most important, especially in providing information for small geographic areas and for small population groups, as well as for the country as a whole. The value of the Census lies not only in the information collected in the Census, which provides a comprehensive picture of Australia, but also in the opportunities to integrate Census data with other datasets to increase the range of insights provided and ensure the Census delivers maximum benefit to governments and the community. The next Census will take place on 9 August, 2016.
Planning is already well underway for the 2016 Census output program. The ABS is committed to releasing the results from the Census through a range of innovative products -- QuickStats, Community Profiles, DataPacks, and TableBuilder. The results from the 2016 Census will be released through these products in two main stages, starting from mid 2017.
The majority of the data will continue to be available free-of-charge on the ABS website. The ABS website also provides help information and tutorials for people who are using the Census products for the first time.
PRODUCT IMPROVEMENTS AND CHANGES
The ABS conducted a user review in 2014 to gain feedback about the 2011 Census products. The review confirmed that users are generally satisfied with the current products and elicited a number of suggestions to improve them, including upgrades to improve stability and performance.
Minor enhancements to products will be investigated and where possible, implemented in time for the 2016 data release. Further information will be provided in Census of Population and Housing - Products and Services, 2016 (cat. no. 2011.0.55.001) due for release in the first half of 2016.
One key change for the 2016 data release is that DataPacks will be an entirely on-line product. There will no longer be an option to purchase DataPack DVDs. They will be free-of-charge for download from the ABS website.
The 2016 Census will introduce significant changes to the way the Census is conducted, with a move to a digital-first approach. About two-thirds of Australians are expected to respond online in 2016, double the 33% online response in 2011. Further information about how the 2016 Census will be conducted can be found in Census of Population and Housing: Nature and Content, Australia, 2016 (cat. no. 2008.0).
It is expected that in 2016, for the first time, people in Norfolk Island on Census night will be included in the Australian Census, following the passage of the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015.
While most classifications used in the 2016 Census will be the same as those used in the 2011 Census, a small number will be undergoing review during 2016. Full details of all 2016 classifications and variables will be available in the Census Dictionary, Australia, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0) to be released in May 2016.
The consultation process for the 2016 Census revealed that there was a strong desire to see continuity in the topics maintained, so that changes in Australia can be measured over time. After a rigorous review of topics, it was decided that the 2016 Census would repeat the topics included in the past two Censuses.
The 2016 Census data will be released using the 2016 Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), which was first introduced in the 2011 Census. The 2016 version of the ASGS is likely to be very similar to the 2011 edition of the ASGS, apart from some minor updates made primarily by splitting existing regions. This will enable a high level of comparability between the 2011 and the 2016 Census. Information about ASGS changes will be provided in Census of Population and Housing - Products and Services, 2016 (cat. no. 2011.0.55.001) due for release in the first half of 2016.
For the 2016 Census, data will no longer be produced for Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) from the Australian Statistical Geographical Classification (ASGC). In 2011, data was produced for SLAs to assist users in transitioning from the ASGC to the ASGS. Local Government Area (LGA) data will continue to be available as part of the ASGS into the future.
For further information on ABS Statistical Geography see www.abs.gov.au/geography.
Similar to the 2011 Census, counts will be released on two different bases -- place of enumeration and place of usual residence.
Census counts for place of enumeration are based on each person's actual location on Census night. Overseas visitors are included while Australians overseas are excluded.
Census counts for place of usual residence are based on where each person usually lives, regardless of where they were on Census night. Overseas visitors and Australians overseas are excluded.
The data for most products will be based on where people usually live (place of usual residence). Some data will only be available for place of enumeration (where people were on Census night). All data will clearly state which count method has been used.
The ABS is currently reviewing its microdata access services in order to increase the ease of access to microdata through a wider range of options than is currently available. It is anticipated that 2016 Census data will be made available in a Census Sample File (CSF) and that this will be available in 2018.
Further information about Census microdata can be found on the Census Sample File page on the ABS website.
INTEGRATING CENSUS DATA WITH OTHER DATASETS
Data integration will continue to be a central element of the Census and is an increasingly important element of effectively and efficiently delivering the broader ABS work program.
Integration initiatives already undertaken by the ABS have successfully demonstrated that linking Census data with other datasets provides new insights into areas and groups of interest within Australian society, such as education, migrants and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. These initiatives have contributed to a richer statistical view of Australian society and an improved evidence base for decision making for the community, researchers and policy makers, in a cost effective way.
FEEDBACK ON PROPOSED OUTPUT
If you would like to provide the ABS with feedback on any proposed changes or Census products in general, please submit comments via the feedback form on the ABS website, by quoting '2016 Census Products' in the 'Your feedback' box.
Confirmed release dates and information that will be included in each release will be provided in the publication Census of Population and Housing - Products and Services, 2016 (cat. no. 2011.0.55.001) due for release in the first half of 2016.