3107.0.55.006 - Information Paper: Population Concepts, 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/03/2008  First Issue
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  • Glossary


Collection District

The Census Collection District (CD) is the second smallest Geographic area defined in the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), the smallest being the Mesh Block. The CD has been designed for use in the Census of Population and Housing as the smallest unit for collection and processing. For the 2006 Census, CDs will also be the basis of output for most data and used for the aggregation of statistics to larger census geographic areas. For the 2006 Census, there is an average of about 225 dwellings in each CD. In rural areas, the number of dwellings per CD generally declines as population densities decrease.

De facto population count

A count of people wherever they happen to be within the country at the time of the census night. It represents total population present in the country at the time of the census.

De jure population count

A count of people where they usually live. It represents all usual residents of the country at the time of the census.

Destination Zone

The index provided by State Transport Authorities which corresponds to an area to which place of work addresses are coded in the Census of Population and Housing.


A dwelling is a structure which is intended to have people live in it, and which is habitable on Census Night. Some examples of dwellings are houses, motels, flats, caravans, prisons, tents, humpies and houseboats.

Estimated resident population (ERP)

The official measure of the population of Australia is based on the concept of usual residence. It refers to all people, regardless of nationality or citizenship, who usually live in Australia, with the exception of foreign diplomatic personnel and their families. It includes usual residents who are overseas for less than 12 months. It excludes overseas visitors who are in Australia for less than 12 months. ERP have wide application in many areas. The ABS produce population projections which rely on up-to-date population estimates as their base.

External Territories

Australian external territories include Australian Antarctic Territory, Coral Sea Islands Territory, Norfolk Island, Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, and Territory of Heard and McDonald Islands.


A family is defined by the ABS as two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering, and who are usually resident in the same household. The basis of a family is formed by identifying either a couple, parent-child or other blood relationship. Information on persons temporarily absent on Census Night is considered in family coding.

Full-Time Equivalent population

A measure derived by the Planning Information and Forecasting Unit of the Department of Local Government, Planning, Sport and Recreation, Queensland Government that approximates the total population living in an area at a given point in time, as applied to the nine local government areas of the Bowen Basin. The Full-Time Equivalent population is based on two components - a survey of accommodation providers that counts the number of non-resident workers, and the resident population component estimated to be present in the area at the time of survey.


A household is a group of two or more related or unrelated people who usually reside in the same dwelling who regard themselves as a household and who make common provision for food or other essentials for living; or a person living in a dwelling who makes provision for his or her own food and other essentials for living, without combining with any other person. Households include group households of unrelated persons, same-sex couple households, single-parent households as well as one-person households.


Persons who identify themselves as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin.

Local Government Area

Local Government area (LGA) is a special unit which represents the whole geographical area of responsibility of an incorporated Local Government Council, an Aboriginal or Island Council in Queensland, or a Community Government Council (CGC) in the Northern Territory. An LGA consists of one or more SLAs. LGAs aggregate directly to form the incorporated areas of state/territories. The creation and delimitation of LGAs, their names and their boundaries vary over time. Further information concerning LGAs is contained in Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) (cat.no. 1216.0).

Long-term migrant

A person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least a year (12 months), so that the country of destination effectively becomes his or her new country of usual residence. From the perspective of the country of departure, the person will be a long-term emigrant and from that of the country of arrival, the person will be a long-term immigrant.

Mesh Block

Mesh Blocks are a new micro level of statistical geography for Australia. They were first published in draft form in September 2005. In July 2006 they became the smallest unit of the ASGC. Mesh Blocks are about four or five times smaller than CDs but do not necessarily aggregate to CD. They do aggregate precisely to SLAs. The minimum number of dwellings in each Mesh Block will be between 20 and 50 except where a Mesh Block is deliberately designed to have zero population. Mesh Blocks can aggregate reasonably accurately to many different geographical regions, administrative, management and political boundaries. For further information see Information Paper: Draft Mesh Blocks, Australia, 2005 (cat. no. 1209.0.55.001).

Net interstate migration

The difference between the number of persons who have changed their place of usual residence by moving into a given state or territory and the number who have changed their place of usual residence by moving out of that state or territory during a specified time period. This difference can be either positive or negative.

Net overseas migration

Net overseas migration (NOM) is net permanent and long-term overseas migration, adjusted for change in traveller duration, intention and multiple movement error.


Overseas-born people are those who state that they were born in a country other than Australia, those born at sea, and those whose response are classed as 'Inadequately described' or 'Not elsewhere classified'.

Place of enumeration

The place of enumeration is the place at which the person is counted i.e. where he/she spent Census Night, which may not be where he/she usually lives. The population count for place of enumeration is a count of every person, who spends Census Night in Australia, based on where he/she is counted. It includes people on board vessels in or between Australian ports, or on long-distance trains, buses or aircraft. This count is also known as a de facto population count.

Place of usual residence

This is the place where a person usually lives. It may, or may not be the place where the person was counted on Census Night. Each person is required to state his/her address of usual residence in census question. The count of persons at their usual residence is known as the de jure population count. The census counts compiled on this basis are less likely to be influenced by seasonal factors such as school holidays and snow seasons, and provide information about the usual residents of an area. The 2001 Census was the first census where usual residence data was available at CD level. For the 2006 Census, usual residence data will again be available at CD level.

Population census

Process of collecting and compiling demographic, economic and social data at a specified time, pertaining to all persons in a country or in a well-delimited part of a country.

Population projection

The ABS uses the cohort-component method for producing population projections of Australia, the states, territories, capital cities and balance of state. This method begins with a base population for each sex by single-year of age and advances it year by year, for each year in the projection period, by applying assumptions regarding future fertility, mortality and migration. The assumptions are based on demographic trends over the past decade and longer, both in Australia and overseas. The projections are not predictions or forecasts, but are simply illustrations of the change in population which would occur if the assumptions were to prevail over the projection period. A number of projections are produced by the ABS to show a range of possible future outcomes.

Post enumeration survey

Since the 1966 Census, each census has been followed by a Post Enumeration Survey (PES), conducted by specially trained interviewers independently of the Census. Each state and territory is included. The main purpose of the PES is to measure the extent of undercount and overcount in the census. This is achieved by asking the respondents in the PES if they were included on a census form for the household being interviewed, and if there were any other addresses where they may have been included in the census. At each of these addresses (including the interview address), the personal information is matched to any corresponding census forms for these addresses to determine whether a person was counted more than once, or was not counted at all. Results obtained in the PES are used to adjust census counts in the calculation of ERP figures for Australia. The results also provide an assessment of the coverage of the census by field operations including the extent to which dwellings are missed by census collectors.

Short-term migrant

A person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least three months but less than a year (12 months) except in cases where the movement to that country is for purposes of recreation, holiday, visits to friends and relatives, business, medical treatment or religious pilgrimage. For purposes of international migration statistics, the country of usual residence of short-term migrants is considered to be the country of destination during the period they spend in it.

Statistical Local Area

Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) are, in most cases, identical with, or have been formed from a division of, whole Local Government Areas (LGAs). In other cases, they represent unincorporated areas. In aggregate, SLAs cover the whole of a state or territory without gaps or overlaps. In some cases legal LGAs overlap statistical subdivision boundaries and therefore comprise two or three SLAs (Part A, Part B and, if necessary, Part C). Further information concerning SLAs is contained in Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) (cat. no. 1216.0).

Usual residence

Usual residence within Australia refers to that address at which the person has lived or intends to live for a total of six months or more in a given reference year.

Working population

The working population is based on the concept of place of employment or place of work. They include all employed persons who report a workplace address for the main job held in the week prior to census night. It is not possible to distinguish between workers working standard hours, and shift workers. However, the persons employed in the week prior to census but no longer employed on census day are still included in the working population.