2901.0 - Census Dictionary, 1996  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/07/1996   
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Contents >> Section One: 1996 Census Classifications >> About the 1996 census classifications

What is a classification?

People provide a wide range of responses to questions on the census form. To summarise these responses for output purposes, they are grouped into a number of categories or classes. For each topic, a list of classes is created which groups related or similar responses. This list of classes is called a classification.

Each classification listed in this directory has a four, five or six character mnemonic associated with it, e.g. HIND for household income. These mnemonics are a convenient shorthand method of describing census classifications by clients when specifying output requirements. Each classification relates to either a dwelling (or household), family or person. The last character of the mnemonic indicates which of these units the classification counts, i.e.:

      D indicates a classification that records a characteristic of a dwelling;

      F indicates a classification that records a characteristic of a family; and

      P indicates a classification that describes a characteristic of a person.

Please note that the classifications listed in this directory do not include the geographic classifications used to describe the geographic areas covered by the Census. Geographic classifications formed by the aggregation of Collection Districts (CDs), such as Statistical Local Areas (SLAs), Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Electoral Divisions are described in the publication Statistical Geography Volume 2: Census Geographical Areas, Australia (Cat. no. 2905.0).

The entry for each classification includes a brief description of the variable itself, and the population to which it is applicable, a complete list of categories included in the classification, a count of the number of categories in the classification, and a description of the population to whom the variable is not applicable.

Specifying recodes and defined fields

For data purchased in customised tables, users can specify recodes and defined fields to be included in the tables.

Where a classification provides more detail than is required, the client can specify recodes to regroup the full classification into broader categories. Some classifications are hierarchically structured e.g. INDP or OCCP, and the client may specify that the data be output at a particular level of the classification. Other clients may wish to collapse certain categories, while still retaining the detailed level for other categories.

A defined field combines the data collected in two or more fields into one. In most cases it is an easy process to specify defined fields when producing customised tables for the 1996 Census. For this reason the number of defined fields included as standard classifications has been reduced since the 1991 Census. An example of variables no longer included as standard variables, but which can be derived during tabulation are some family variables such as AGFF, Age of female of a couple.


In order to assist users to identify the classification of interest, topic and mnemonic indexes are provided. On this web site the 1996 Census Classifications have been sorted alphabetically by title. (Note that the mnemonic has been shown at the start of the name but ignored when sorting the titles.) In the actual publication released in 1996, the classifications were sorted by mnemonic in alphabetical order.

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