The Census of Population and Housing is a descriptive count of everyone who is in Australia on one night, and of their dwellings.

The Census of Population and Housing is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the ABS and one of the most important. Its objective is to accurately measure the number and key characteristics of people who are in Australia on Census Night, and of the dwellings in which they live. This information provides a reliable basis for estimating the population of each of the states, territories and local government areas, primarily for electoral purposes and for planning the distribution of government funds. Census data are also used by individuals and organisations in the public and private sectors to make informed decisions on policy and planning issues that impact on the lives of all Australians.

Everyone in Australia is legally required to complete a Census form, to ensure that our Census data give an accurate and complete picture of our nation. For more information on the relevant legislation, see the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

The 2011 Census

The most recent Census of Population and Housing was conducted on 9 August 2011. This was Australia's sixteenth national Census, and marked 100 years of national Census taking in Australia. The 2011 Census was the largest logistical peacetime operation ever undertaken in Australia, employing over 43,000 field staff to ensure approximately 14.2 million forms were delivered to 9.8 million households.

The ABS will release the results of the 2011 Census through a wide range of products and services designed to make it easy for users to access the data they need.