National Reconciliation week - Shedding some light on Census night

26 May 2011 | CO/20

Today’s anniversary of the 1967 referendum which removed the Constitutional clauses that discriminated against Indigenous Australians is particularly significant for this year’s Census on 9 August 2011.

Today marks the beginning of National Reconciliation Week which celebrates the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. This year’s theme is ‘Let’s Talk Recognition’.

Head of the Population Census Program, Paul Lowe says that while this year’s Census marks 100 years of Census taking in Australia, the 2011 Census is also significant for Indigenous Australians.

“The successful 1967 referendum allowed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be counted for the first time in the 1971 Census. National Reconciliation Week is a good time to acknowledge and reflect on this important milestone," Mr Lowe says.

Mr Lowe says the Australian Bureau of Statistics has been working closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and leaders for the past two years to achieve an accurate Census count in August.

“The Census gives government, decision makers and community organisations a snapshot of Australia. It recognises Australia’s cultural diversity and aims to provide an accurate count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Mr Lowe encourages everyone who identifies as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin to record this on their form at Census time.

“It is an opportunity for Australia to recognise our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. It is important that we have an understanding of the origins of the people who call Australia home to support planning for facilities and services that reflect the needs of our society,” Mr Lowe adds.

National Reconciliation Week is organised by Reconciliation Australia, an independent, not-for-profit organisation established in 2000.

For more information about the Census visit www.abs.gov.au/census .