What is the Census?
- A descriptive count of everyone and their dwellings in Australia on one night, every 5 years
- A gathering of vital knowledge
- A decision-shaping tool for governments, businesses and individuals
The 2006 Census was held on 8 August 2006, and the next Census will be on 9 August 2011.
Federal funding arrangements to the states and territories is based on census figures. The number of seats each state and territory has in the House of Representatives is also based on census figures, as is the allocation of GST revenue.
Who was counted in the 2006 Census?
Everyone but foreign diplomats and their families on Census Night. Including:
- People working or living on boats in Australian waters
- Visitors to Australia, regardless of how long they've been in the country or how long they plan to stay
- People outside but normally resident in Australia who are not subject to outbound migration formalities, such as those on oil and gas rigs off the Australian coast
- People of the Torres Strait Islands
- People of the Territories of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island - following the enactment of the Territories Reform Act 1992, the results for these Territories were included in the counts for Australia for the first time in 1996
- Peoples "over-wintering" in the Australian Antarctic Territory
- Overseas visitors to Australia
- Homeless people
- People on aeroplanes travelling between Australian destinations on Census Night
- People on ships travelling between Australian destinations on Census Night
- All children, including newborn babies born before midnight on Census Night
- People in detention centres
- People in prison
- Transport drivers on the road
- People in hospitals and institutions
Is it compulsory?
Ultimately, yes. The Census and Statistics Act (1905), which authorises the Census, also provides for the compulsory completion of the form. If an individual doesn't answer the questions on the Census form, the Australian Statistician has the authority to direct them to complete the form, with the legal obligation to comply. The Census and Statistics Act (1905) provides for penalties of up to $110 per day for people convicted of failing to complete and return a form when directed to do so.
The United Nations and the Census
Australia is a world leader in censuses, providing management guidance to several countries.
The United Nations urges Member States to carry out regular population and housing censuses under the World Population and Housing Census Programme, in order to:
- Ensure improvement in living standards
- Devise effective development plans
- Monitor population, socioeconomic and environmental trends
- Evaluate policies