Five years on - Moving Census towards 2011
After five years, outgoing Census Products and Services Director Michael Beahan, reflects on the evolution of the Census, its products and services.
The past five years has been quite a journey since I joined the Census Program in May 2003. Over this time I have almost experienced the entire Census cycle, from planning and collecting data to evaluating and releasing a range of Census products and services.
Upon entering this role, I saw that it was essential to improve access to Census data. Many casual users reported they needed to go through a lengthy trial and error process to locate their desired data. The ABS has since made some very positive improvements in that area, with Census user feedback suggesting Census data is now significantly easier to access.
The second challenge presented to me was to make it more accessible for users to not just 'access' data but to interact with it. Improvements in interactive data are very close to fruition with the launch of CDATA Online later this year. CDATA is a significant advancement in the ABS' capability in providing quality data for informed decision making.
One of the many pleasures in my Census role was getting out there and speaking with our Census user community. I’ve managed to visit and appreciate the uniqueness of some of our more distant capital cities including Hobart, Perth and Darwin. Census users are a remarkable group of people – knowledgeable and committed with a great sense of purpose. I'd like to thank all of the people in the Census user community for their support and encouragement.
Perhaps the most significant achievement for the 2006 Census was the move away from traditional priced publications by making basic Census data available to all Australians by publishing data free at http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/d3310114.nsf/Home/Home?OpenDocument. In 2006, the ABS also introduced the eCensus, a secure online census form. With more than 10% of private households submitting their information via the eCensus, this will play a greater role in the 2011 Census.
The most fortunate aspect of my job has been the talented group of people working in the Census Program who’ve had the task of turning aspirations into reality. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the privilege of working with such a dedicated and hard working group of people.
Jenny Telford took over the role of Census Products and Services Director on 11 February 2008. Jenny has a strong background in website publishing and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Census Program.
Census Products and Services