2007.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Content and Procedures, 2016  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/11/2012   
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The ABS intends to consult with groups of users of Census data in all states and territories from November 2012 to May 2013. In late 2013 the Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC) will discuss the views of users obtained through written submissions (which close on the 31 May 2013) . During 2014 the ABS will make a submission to the Government on the nature and content of the 2016 Census. An information paper will be released outlining the 2016 Census content (cat. no. 2008.0) following Government approval.

As the Census development continues, the ABS will be consulting Census users about other aspects of the program, including the output strategy, classifications to be used in output, and details of the 2016 Census products and services. A review of Census products and services will commence at the end of 2013 with a public consultation process planned for 2014.


Following the release of this paper, the ABS will hold public seminars with groups of interested people in all capital cities. These sessions will be held during November and December 2012. These seminars will:

  • explain the consultation process for the 2016 Census
  • outline initial ABS views on content and procedures of the 2016 Census
  • facilitate understanding of the requirements for new topics in the 2016 Census
  • detail how submissions can be raised and lodged with the ABS.
For the time and location of seminars in your capital city, and how to register your interest see Information Sessions.

Seminars are open to members of the public, who are encouraged to attend to obtain more information prior to lodging a submission.

The ABS encourages you to take this opportunity to make a submission by 31 May 2013. This will be a way of expressing your views on existing or new topics and influencing changes for the 2016 Census.


A set of criteria is used to judge the suitability of topics for a Census. The questions included in the Submission Form relate to these five criteria, which are:
  • the topic is of current national importance

    Topics selected for a Census must relate to an issue that is of current national importance. There must be a demonstrated need for the Census data for policy development, planning and program monitoring, or for the provision of data on this topic as an electoral or legislative requirement.

    Submissions proposing the inclusion of new topics should clearly indicate the value of the information by showing the uses to which it will be put. Submissions should also spell out the implications of the topic not being included in the Census.
  • there is a current need for data on the topic for small population groups and/or at the small area level

    As the Census covers all households, it can produce information at the small geographic area level or about small population groups, and enables cross-classification with other characteristics collected in the Census.

    Submissions proposing the inclusion of new topics or supporting existing topics, should clearly show why this information is currently needed at the small area level or for small population groups.

    Information required for broad geographic areas only (e.g. at the state or national level) may be better obtained by other means (e.g. sample surveys) depending on the detail of the cross-classification required. If the need is restricted to information about a few specific small areas, other collections or methods could be more appropriate.
  • there are no other suitable alternative data sources available for the topic

    Consideration should be given to whether data are available from other sources. For example: similar or surrogate data may be collected by another organisation, there may have been surveys already conducted by the ABS, or the data may be available from administrative records.

    The ABS produces an extensive range of information from economic censuses and surveys, administrative sources, and a comprehensive program of household surveys. While the ABS household surveys are not able to collect the detailed information that can be obtained from the Census for small groups or small areas, there are other advantages associated with interviewers collecting the data rather than the self-enumeration method used in the Census.

    For information on all data published by the ABS, users should refer to the ABS web site at www.abs.gov.au.
  • the topic is suitable for inclusion in the Census

    In the Census, information is collected by 'self-enumeration' with each household being required to fill in a Census form. Self-enumeration, and the need to ensure the large Census operation is conducted as efficiently and effectively as possible, impose certain constraints on the type of topics included. It is vital to minimise the reporting burden on households and control Census costs. Questions asked on the Census form need to be readily understood by all householders.

    Topics that require detailed explanation to ensure accurate answers are unlikely to be answered correctly. Research has shown that people often do not read the explanations that accompany questions. Questions that are controversial or could cause adverse reactions may also not be answered correctly. Such questions could also affect the quality of other responses. Information about these types of topics may require interviewer based collection methods.
  • there is likely to be a continuing need for data on the topic in the following Census

    The need for time-series data has traditionally been an implicit component of the selection criteria. There should be an appropriate balance between the two needs of relevance and time-series. If both are considered to be fulfilled (i.e. the topic is currently relevant and likely to remain relevant for future censuses) then there will be a good case for retaining or including the topic. However, if one of these is not assessed as being fulfilled (i.e. while there is comparable time series data from previous censuses the topic is no longer relevant in modern society, or while the topic is very relevant for the current times it is unlikely to remain relevant in the future) the topic is unlikely to be recommended.

Submissions need to address the questions that are included in the Submission Form so the ABS can understand data needs and so that they can be carefully assessed against other competing priorities. For details see Questions included in the Submission form.


The ABS may make public the views put forward in your submission. The information provided in the submission would mainly be used to summarise the case for or against a topic, or to answer questions from members of Parliament about the number and nature of submissions received.

However, the ABS will not publish the names of persons or organisations making submissions without first obtaining their permission to do so. The Submission Form includes a question that asks whether the person or organisation agrees to the ABS making public reference to their name or organisation name in relation to their submission.

More than one submission

Each topic will be considered on its own merits against the assessment criteria. It should be noted that each submission should be about only ONE topic. A separate submission needs to be completed for each topic requested for inclusion, exclusion or modification.

How to lodge a submission

The Submission Form can be completed online or downloaded and saved onto your computer for drafting and finalisation prior to submission. Electronic submissions should be lodged online or sent to 2016census@abs.gov.au

If you require Submission Form/s in hard copy or need any assistance, please telephone the ABS National Information Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or 2016census@abs.gov.au (via email).

Completed hard copy submissions should be sent to:

2016 Census Submissions
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Locked Bag 10
Belconnen ACT 2616

Each submission received will be acknowledged by email or post.

Closing date

The closing date for submissions is 31 May 2013.


Following assessment of submissions, final recommendations on the nature and content of the 2016 Census will be discussed with ASAC in late 2013. The ABS will then make a submission to the Government, outlining recommendations on the nature and content of the 2016 Census. The content of the 2016 Census is expected to be known by the end of 2014. People who have provided submissions will be advised of the outcome at this time.