FEATURE ARTICLE Census Engagement Officers
TOWARDS 2011: GEARING UP FOR CENSUS
For most people in the Northern Territory (NT), the 2011 Census of Population and Housing seems light years away. But for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the journey toward the next Census is one that has already begun.
The five-yearly population count is a mammoth logistical operation, particularly in a region as diverse as the NT. As well as accurately counting the urban population, the ABS is continuously striving to improve the population counts of remote and very remote areas, Indigenous communities, tourists, grey nomads and those in the community without a roof over their head on Census night.
Census results are used by all sectors of the community, from all levels of government to community groups, researchers, businesses and individuals. Census results are used to: produce population estimates; allocate seats in the House of Representatives; assist determining electoral boundaries; support planning for future infrastructure needs; and aid in determining the distribution of federal government funds to the states and territories. Census counts underpin our democracy and rely on all of us completing our forms to ensure their accuracy.
Whilst the content of the 2011 Census form will be the same as 2006, the ABS is dedicated to finding innovative means of continually improving the quality of data collected. The 2006 Census achieved good outcomes in many regions; but the results also showed that the ABS needs to continue to focus on improving coverage to ensure the best possible Census count.
To this end, the ABS will conduct a Census test in several NT Indigenous communities in August 2009 which will trial a system of remote teams. This remote teams testing follows a general Census test of between 5,000 and 6,000 dwellings in south-east Queensland urban areas in late March that will also trial new field procedures and systems, as well as an improved e-Census strategy to help increase the take-up rate for electronic enumeration.
The test phase will also provide the ABS with an opportunity to establish relationships that can be fostered in the lead-up to the 2011 Census. The aims of the Census could never be achieved without the support of the community, and in 2006 the involvement of NT Government, non-government organisations such as the Salvation Army and Mission Australia, and our local ‘boots on the ground’ field staff were invaluable in ensuring the Census’ success. For 2011, the ABS aims to establish a network of organisations that are interested in the Census and will be involved in initiatives to make sure their community counts.
Everything learned during the test will be utilised to ensure that the official counts are of the highest possible quality. The ABS aims to do this through initiatives that increase support for the Census at the community level, utilise local knowledge and intelligence, improve awareness of recruitment of Census field staff, and raise awareness and promote the benefits of the 2011 Census.
The development of new Census strategies and the development of Census tests will be the responsibility of the new Census Engagement Officers, based in each ABS Regional Office. These managers will work with government, businesses, community groups and Indigenous communities to ensure every voice is heard and every person counted in 2011.
All of us benefit from a successful Census. If you feel your organisation or department has something to contribute, please contact the Census Engagement Officer the ABS NT Office on (08) 8943 2100.