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Major Census test in the Beechworth area, Aug 2004
 
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MEDIA RELEASE

August 4, 2004
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
130/2004
Major Census test in the Beechworth area

People in selected areas of Beechworth and Yackandandah are being asked to help the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) by taking part in a major census test during August.

In a key step towards the next national Census of Population and Housing in 2006, the ABS will be conducting a test with approximately 2,600 households in Beechworth and its surrounding areas.

Census Development Director, David Nauenburg said that census tests are an integral part of the seven-year census planning cycle.

“It ensures that all elements of the census from form and question development to delivery procedures are rigorously tested,” he said.

"One of the new things we’re testing is the Internet form. People can choose to complete their census form over the Internet, instead of the paper form. What we learn from this test about the Internet form will provide direct input into the design of the electronic form and its system for the census in 2006."

“Selected areas of Beechworth and Yackandandah were chosen because they are representative of certain areas of the rest of the country and will give us a good opportunity to test our processes in a regional area.”

“Census results are used in the planning of community facilities and services, like where should we direct our health services. On a bigger scale, census information is used in assessing where to distribute over $30 billion a year of government funding, so it makes sense to thoroughly test every aspect of the census.”

“Collectors with official identification will deliver census test forms to households in selected areas of Beechworth and Yackandandah between 30 July and 9 August 2004.”

“Householders participating in the test are being asked to complete their census test form on Tuesday, 10 August 2004. The form should only take 10 to 20 minutes to fill in.”

“Collectors will then return to collect the forms between 11 and 23 August.”

“No personal information will be released by the ABS that would enable an individual or household to be identified. We understand the importance of people’s privacy and under the Census and Statistics Act (1905), the ABS has to maintain the confidentiality of people’s responses.”

Results from this test will help the ABS improve: the ease of filling out the census form; the procedures used to deliver and collect the forms; and the methods that the ABS uses to communicate with its field staff.

This media release was issued on August 2, 2004 and placed on the ABS web site on August 4.


BACKGROUNDER:

What is a census test?

Census tests are carried out under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) undertakes about five tests in the period between censuses. Each test builds upon the other in size and elements tested. In the year prior to the National Census of Population and Housing (next one in 2006), the ABS conducts a dress rehearsal, which involves the testing of some 40,000 households.

Test areas are selected on the basis that the areas are representative of large areas of the rest of the country. Selected areas of Beechworth and Yackandandah were chosen, because it will provide an opportunity to properly test census processes in a regional area.

Conducting tests allows the ABS to develop and improve survey methods, so when the actual census is carried out, the ABS can obtain the highest quality information from Australians for:
  • Planning community services and facilities.
  • Determining the number of seats each state and territory has in the House of Representatives.
  • Determining the level of grants distributed to state and local governments. With the distribution of over $30 billion a year of government funding at stake, it makes sense to thoroughly test every aspect of the census to ensure that each state and territory receives its due allocation.

What does the census test involve?

The test is being conducted in selected areas of Beechworth and Yackandandah.

Census collectors with official identification will be delivering census test forms to households in selected areas of Beechworth and Yackandandah between 30 July and 9 August 2004.

Census test night is on Tuesday, 10 August 2004 - householders should complete their census test form on that night. The form should only take 10 to 20 minutes to fill in.

Collectors will then return to pick-up the forms between 11 and 23 August.

Who is involved?

By 9 August census test forms will be delivered to some 2,600 households in selected areas of Beechworth and Yackandandah.

The census test includes:
  • All persons present in the selected areas on census test night (10 August).
  • Visitors to Australia (regardless of how long they have been in the country or how long they plan to stay) who are staying in the targeted area on census test night.

What is the ABS testing?

The next Census of Population and Housing is in 2006, but before this several tests are needed to see how new methods and questions work.

The test will focus on:
  • Evaluating the processes involved in conducting the census in difficult collection areas like secure buildings/apartments.
  • Improving procedures for conducting the census with specialised dwellings like caravan parks and retirement villages.
  • Identifying the best method of incorporating an Internet form into the census.
  • Providing a reliable and fast method of communication with field staff.
  • Improving the procedures in the areas of recruitment, staff payment, training and field documentation.

Privacy is paramount!

The information provided by householders in the test remains strictly confidential. Governments, business groups and private individuals have no access to test householders personal details.

No information is ever released by the ABS that would enable an individual or household to be identified. As a final privacy safeguard, all census test forms will be destroyed after analysis.

Inquiry line for test householders - only!

A Census Test Inquiry Service is available only to those householders participating in the test.
  • General inquiries: 1800 090 353
  • Visually impaired inquiry service: 1800 059 480


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