2940.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Details of Overcount and Undercount, Australia, 2016 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/06/2017   
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1 The 2016 PES required careful planning and preparation, due to the extended collection period of the 2016 Census, to ensure that data quality and response rates were not compromised.

2 Various field strategies were devised for the enumeration of the PES. Standard procedures were used, where possible, when enumerating private dwellings and in Discrete Communities. In some cases, however, it was necessary to modify these procedures. This was particularly true in Discrete Communities, where changes were made to account for language and cultural issues while still ensuring the underlying concepts remained the same across both sample components.


3 The PES adapted a standard testing regime, with all field tests undertaken as part of Census test activities. The PES tested new and existing collection methodology and field procedures via the following activities:

  • 2014 Major Test – tested the viability of an online Household Contact Details Form in preparation for telephone interviewing
  • 2015 Field Test – tested the questionnaire for both the General Population and Discrete Community samples, and tested telephone interviewing for the General Population
  • 2016 respondent material testing – tested the suitability and functionality of all respondent facing materials (Primary Approach Letter and Flyer) with internal and external specialists.

4 Efficiencies identified as a result of the various tests were implemented before the 2016 PES enumeration commenced.


General Population Sample

5 Specially trained PES interviewers collected data through interviews that started seven weeks after Census night. Interviews were conducted with any responsible adult of the household, who was asked to respond on behalf of all household members.

6 Most interviews were conducted face-to-face; however, respondents were given the option to register for a telephone interview, which had a take-up rate of 32%. Respondents were provided registration instructions on a Primary Approach Letter delivered by mail to the selected dwelling approximately one week prior to the commencement of interviewing.

7 The PES collection methodology differed from the way Census collected its information, where most forms were self-completed. A major advantage of interviewer-administered questionnaires is that people can be provided with assistance if they are uncertain about the meaning of questions, and help is also given to ensure no questions are left unanswered.

8 All dwellings were enumerated using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI).

Discrete Community Sample

9 Enumeration of the Discrete Community sample was staggered over time and undertaken as soon as practicable after the completion of Census collection activities in that community. Interviews in Discrete Communities were conducted by specially trained PES interviewers with the assistance of facilitators recruited from within the selected community. The facilitator assisted in establishing rapport with respondents, helped identify residents of the selected households, and provided interpretation when needed.

10 To preserve the independence of the Census and the PES, every effort was made to recruit facilitators who were not involved in Census collection. Where this was not possible, PES interviewers ensured facilitators had only a limited role in the PES interview and provided assistance only where necessary, such as with language interpretation. In some communities it was acceptable to enumerate without the help of a facilitator, but generally they played an important role in being able to effectively enumerate in the communities.

11 All dwellings were enumerated with a customised questionnaire using CAI.


General Population Sample

12 Intensive Census follow-up procedures were employed at the end of the Census collection period from dwellings that did not return a Census form within the required time frame.

13 All Census follow-up activities for the General Population were closely monitored by PES staff to ensure the risk of overlap between the Census and PES, and hence the statistical independence between the two, was effectively managed. All follow-up was completed by Friday 23 September 2016. The first Primary Approach Letters (PAL) for PES were received by respondents on Monday 19 September. PES field enumeration and interviewing then commenced on Sunday 25 September 2016 (i.e. after the completion of Census follow-up) and continued until Wednesday 9 November 2016.

Discrete Community Sample

14 PES enumeration in Discrete Communities commenced on 22 August 2016 and was completed on 11 November 2016. As PES enumeration of Discrete Communities had a staggered start date (based on when Census field operations in each community were complete), there was no overlap between PES enumeration and Census collection in the selected communities.


General Population Sample

15 The PES questionnaire collected personal details (name, sex, date of birth, age, relationship in household, registered marital status, country of birth and Indigenous status) to facilitate the matching of PES person records to Census person records during processing. This enables accurate undercount estimates to be generated for Age, Sex, Indigenous status, and a number of other characteristics.

16 For each person in the selected dwelling, the PES also asked:
  • whether they were included on a Census form (and if so, where)
  • whether they could have been included on a Census form at other addresses (and if so, where)
  • where they stayed on Census night
  • a set of questions to determine whether they should have been counted in the Census.

17 The different addresses collected in the PES were used to search Census records to determine the number of times each PES respondent was counted in the Census. Visitors to households included in the PES were also asked for their address of usual residence.

Discrete Community Sample

18 As in 2011, a specially designed questionnaire was used in Discrete Community enumeration. A number of questions in the General Population PES questionnaire were not considered applicable to people living in Discrete Communities and were adapted to ensure information was collected in the most culturally appropriate manner. For example, it is more common for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in a community to be known by more than one name. This tailored questionnaire ensured sufficient information was collected to effectively match persons, taking into account the potentially different nature of matching.

19 A Community-level questionnaire was also completed for each selected Discrete Community with the help of the Community contact or council officer. Information collected on this questionnaire, such as whether a significant event occurred at the time of the Census (e.g. a sports carnival), was used to help with respondent recall and assisted in the completion of parts of the individual questionnaires.