|A range of reference documentation and information about the 1996, 2001 and 2006 Censuses of Population and Housing is available from the links at the right of this page.|
Since the first national Census in 1911, the content of Censuses has changed. Some topics have been included in each Census since 1911, for example, age, marital status and religion, while others have been included or excluded depending on the importance of the topic at the time. Topics selected for a Census must have specific purposes which are of national importance. There must be a demonstrated need for the Census data for policy development, planning and program monitoring.
Over the years, the wording of some Census questions has varied, some questions have been discontinued and new questions have been introduced. The ABS publication How Australia Takes a Census, 2011 describes the questions on the 2011 Census form and why they were asked, and includes a list of Census topics from 1911 to 2011.
Census publications from 1911 to 1991 have been digitised and are are available free of charge online. These publications include some limited data as well as Explanatory Notes and other reference material.
To access these publications, please go to the Historical Censuses (pre 1996) page.
Data from the Censuses of Australian States in 1901 are included in A Snapshot of Australia, 1901, along with generally comparative data from the 2001 Census. Due to different methodologies and question content, data from the 1901 and 2001 Censuses are not always directly comparable. Some metadata information from the 1901 Census is also included in this publication.