2011 Census - for a brighter future

19 August 2011 | NSW/122

400 Census Collectors are pounding the streets of Blacktown and Penrith until Sunday 28 August collecting completed forms as part of the national Census, which took place on Tuesday 9 August.

As well as collecting forms, Census staff like Lionel Murray are also helping members of the public requiring assistance in completing their Census form.

Lionel, who is a Census Indigenous Assistant working with Aboriginal communities in Mt Druitt and Penrith was volunteering at the Emerton Men's Shed where he was encouraged to apply for a Census job.

"I've been doing voluntary work in the area for some time and the Census seemed like a good way to contribute to the community. Plus it was another way of getting some work experience," Lionel says.

Information collected in the Census is used to plan local facilities and services that people use everyday, like roads, housing and education.

Area Supervisor Kristy Kendrington, who recruited Lionel, is delighted with the quality of his work and how he has seen this as an opportunity to give something back to his local community.

"Lionel is a great advocate for the Census and has made an enormous contribution in helping us achieve an accurate count of the Aboriginal population throughout western Sydney. He has encouraged people to complete the Census and explained why the information is needed, breaking down barriers within the community.

"He truly is a hard worker who is passionate about the Census. Lionel has endeared himself to the community with Elders and locals alike looking to him as someone they can trust.

"We have people coming to our fill-in-the-form sessions at Marrin Weejali asking for him by name when seeking help," Ms Kendrigan says.

The father of three from Bidwell is a great example of how someone can take responsibility for their actions and take steps to turn their life around.

"I've had my fair share of troubles. My life had no real direction and I had a couple of stints in gaol. Three years ago I made a decision to change my life and be a positive influence for my children.

"I've learnt new skills in my role with the Census, particularly using computers and I've enjoyed talking to people.

"I hope the experience I've gained will help me get a job working with local youth. I see them walking around not going to school. I know many of them and hopefully I can pass on advice and stop them from making the mistakes I have," Lionel adds.

It's not too late to complete your 2011 Census form. Census Collectors will be out collecting until 28 August and the online eCensus option is also still open

Fill-in-the-form sessions are continuing at Marrin Weejali Aboriginal Corporation Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, until Friday 26 August, except Wednesday when sessions run until 8pm. Sessions are open to everyone and all you need to bring is your Census form.

If you haven’t received a Census form or need an eCensus Number you can request one at www.abs.gov.au/census.