2901.0 - Census Dictionary, 1996  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/07/1996   
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Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander

See Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Languages, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Origin (ABLP), Community Development Employment Program (CDEP), Indigenous Enumeration, Indigenous Family, Indigenous Household.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) Regions

See ATSIC Region.

Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander languages

The 1996 Census is the first, for which data on individual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages have been available. The Census asks a question on language spoken at home, thus this information may not collect complete language use data but does, for the first time, give an indication of the relative number of speakers of Indigenous languages Australia wide.

See also Language (LANP).

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin (ABLP)

The origin question on the census form asks whether each person is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. The purpose of the question is to provide data about both groups of Australia's Indigenous people: Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders. Torres Strait Islanders are the descendants of the Indigenous people of the Torres Strait, between the tip of Cape York and Papua New Guinea.

A question on origin has been asked in all censuses. However, prior to the 1971 Census Indigenous people were counted in order to exclude them from population estimates for each State/Territory. The 1967 Referendum changed section 127 of the Constitution to allow Aboriginal people to be included in official census population counts. The 1971 and 1976 Censuses asked each person's racial origin. Since the 1981 Census the word 'racial' has been dropped from the question. The 1996 Census is the first census to allow people's origin to be recorded as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; prior to this only one or the other could be recorded.

See also Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Languages, Community Development Employment Program (CDEP), Indigenous Enumeration, Indigenous Family, Indigenous Household.


See Temporarily Absent.

Accommodation for the retired or aged (cared)

This is a category of the classification Type of Non-Private Dwelling (NPDD). This is accommodation for retired or aged people where the occupants are not regarded as being self-sufficient and do not provide their own meals.

See also Type of Non-Private Dwelling (NPDD).

Accommodation for the retired or aged (self-care)

This is a category of the classification Dwelling Location (DLOD) used to code accommodation provided for the retired or aged people who care for themselves. The definition of self-care is: 'Accommodation where the occupants provide their own meals and are regarded as being self-sufficient'.

See also Dwelling Location (DLOD).


No names or addresses are recorded on census computer files. Confidentiality of information collected in the Census is maintained by destruction of census forms.

The address provided on the front of the census form helps census staff ensure that no dwellings are omitted from the census count.

The question asking the usual address of each person on census night (Question 7) is used to establish the Statistical Local Area (SLA) of people who usually reside in a different area to where they were enumerated; and in determining family relationships of people in households.

Each person's usual address of one year and five years before the census date is coded to SLA from which information for all other ASGC codes can be derived (including State). These data provide information on the movement of people within Australia, i.e. internal migration.

Workplace address is used to help identify the establishment where a person is employed, for coding of industry and industry sector, and for coding destination zone in journey to work study areas.

Some addresses are also used for analysing the results of the Post Enumeration Survey (PES).

See also Confidentiality, Internal Migration, Journey to Work, Postcode, Post Enumeration Survey.

Adopted child

The Census does not seek to identify adopted children. An adopted child is, in most cases, reported as the child of Person 1 and/or Person 2 in the relationship question (Question 5), and is coded in the same way as natural child.

See also Child Type (CTPP).

Age (AGEP)

Age has been collected in all Australian censuses. The 1991 Census was the first census to use self-coding for age. The same self-responding method is used for the 1996 Census but a different layout for the age grid is used.

Age and sex data are essential for the production of accurate population estimates based on the Census.

AGEP classifies each person's age into single year categories, from 0 to 98 years, and 99 years or more. For infants aged less than one year, 0 years of age is recorded. When no age is reported, the ABS imputes an age using other information on the form and information on age distribution of the population.

Age is used during processing as a cross check with other variables; for example, the age of the respondent determines whether particular questions asked in the Census are applicable.

The following age constraints apply:

      • if age is under five years, then State and SLA of Usual Residence Five Years Ago (STEU5P, SLAU5P) are not applicable;
      • if age is less than one year, then State and SLA of Usual Residence One Year Ago (STEU1P, SLAU1P) is not applicable;
      • age and Year of Arrival in Australia (YARP) must be logically consistent; and
      • the household or family reference person must be over 14 years of age.

If age is under 15 years, then the following person variables are not applicable:
        Age Left School (ALSP)
        Hours Worked (HRSP)
        Income (INCP)
        Industry (INDP)
        Industry Sector (GNGP)
        Labour Force Status (LFSP)
        Method of Travel to Work (TPTP).
        Number of Children Ever Born (TISP)
        Occupation (OCCP)
        Post-School Educational Qualification: Field of Study (QALFP)
        Post-School Educational Qualification: Level of Attainment (QALLP)
        Post-School Educational Qualification: Year Completed (QALYP)
        Registered Marital Status (MSTP)
        Social Marital Status (MDCP)
        Work Destination Zone (DZNP)
        Work Destination Area (DZSP)

See also Derivations and Imputations, Estimated Resident Population.

Age left school (ALSP)

Age left school classifies the age at which a person left primary or secondary school and is a proxy indicator of the educational level attained by people. Categories are also provided for people still at school, and those who did not go to school. The age of leaving school is used instead of level of schooling because of differences in, and changes to, education systems. This is an important variable for planning education facilities and assessing the educational level of the population.

See also Derivations and Imputations, Estimated Resident Population.


Ancestors living with their children are coded as separate families if they formed a couple in their own right (i.e. the reference person's mother and father). Lone ancestors (i.e. those who do not form separate families) living in households can be determined using Relationship in Household (RLHP). Using this classification a lone ancestor is a parent (Mother/Father) or grandparent (Grandfather/Grandmother) of the family reference person.

See also Ethnicity, Relationship in Household (RLHP).


See Ethnicity.


See Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification.


See Dwelling Structure (STRD).

Area (measurement)

Area is calculated for collection districts (CDs) in square kilometres using digital boundary data which define the CD. The areas of most other spatial units used in the Census are calculated by aggregating the areas of the component CDs.

The digital CD boundaries are only representations of the 'real world' bounds of a collector's area. The real world boundary is complex, where the digital version is simplified. This results in a less than perfect measurement of the true area of the CD. The degree to which the measured area is inaccurate is, in most cases, only slight.

Calculation of the actual area of a CD is two dimensional. The effects of changes in elevation are not considered in the area calculations provided by the ABS. Water bodies encompassed by the CD are included in the total area.

For census purposes, the calculation of area for a local government area (LGA) is by aggregating the areas of component CDs. This area may not correspond to the legally determined area.

Arrival, Year of

See Year of Arrival in Australia (YARP).


See Australian Standard Classification of Occupations.


See Australian Standard Geographical Classification.


See Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC).

ATSIC Region

ATSIC Regions are administrative areas used by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) for the election of Regional Councils which represent the local Indigenous population. They are provided for under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act, 1989.

ATSIC Regions are approximated by aggregating the data for collection districts (CDs) which lie wholly or partly within the ATSIC Region. There are 36 ATSIC Regions (including the Torres Strait Area) which together cover all of Australia. Data about Indigenous people can be obtained by ATSIC Regions. Both Summary and Detailed Indigenous Profiles are produced for ATSIC Regions.

See also Indigenous Area, Indigenous Location.

Attribution (component of digital geographic information)

Attribution, within the digital geography context, permits the identification or selection of a specific spatial feature (such as, streets and schools) based on the name or other property of that feature. It is this attribution which gives spatial data 'intelligence' within a geographic information system.


The total Australian population in census tabulations comprises all people counted in the six States, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Previous census tabulations excluded Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands from the Australian total but the counts were available separately.

See also Confidentiality, Other Territories.

Australian Citizenship (NATP)

This variable identifies holders of Australian citizenship.

Citizenship data are used to obtain information on the tendency of different migrant groups to take out citizenship and to measure the size of groups eligible to vote. The data are useful cross-classified with birthplace, year of arrival and age data.

Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC)

The Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) has been developed as the standard industrial classification for use in the production and analysis of all ABS industry statistics.

It replaces both the Australian Standard Industrial Classification (ASIC) and the New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (NZSIC) and forms part of an integrated statistical system. This provides a standard framework for classifying statistical units (e.g. establishments, management units, etc.) to the same industry in all ABS statistical collections in which they are included.

The ANZSIC has a four level hierarchical structure, comprising Divisions (the broadest level), Subdivisions, Groups and Classes (the finest level). The seventeen Divisions (identified by an alphabetic character) provide a broad overall picture of the economy whilst the Subdivision, Group and Class levels provide increasingly detailed dissections.

The following example illustrates the hierarchy:

    Division C:
    Subdivision 21:
        Food, Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing
    Group 218:
        Beverage and Malt Manufacturing
    Class 2182:
        Beer and Malt Manufacturing
The ANZSIC class is the basic building block of the classification and is defined in terms of a specified range of activities which characterise, and are nearly always unique to, that class. These are referred to as the primary activities of the class. For example, for Class 2250 Footwear Manufacturing, the primary activities are the manufacturing of boots, sandals, shoes, thongs, etc.

An establishment which is mainly engaged in activities which have been designated as primary to a particular class is classified to that class, whether the establishment is engaged in other activities or not.

In the Census, employed persons are coded to an ANZSIC class according to the main kind of business, activity or service undertaken by their employer at the location (i.e. address) at which they work by matching against the ABS Business Register. If a match against the Business Register cannot be made, the ANZSIC is coded by using the type of industry question.

A special version of the ANZSIC classification is used for the Census which incorporates undefined classes in addition to the normal defined classes. These undefined classes have unique four digit codes and can represent any one of the four levels of the classification. They are a device to facilitate the coding of businesses for which insufficient information has been provided to enable coding to a defined class.

An example of an undefined class is Class 2110: Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing. This class may apply if the response to the industry question on the census form were 'meat manufacturing', that is, it could not be determined which one of the following defined classes of group 211 actually applies:
    Class 2111:
        Meat manufacturing
    Class 2112:
        Poultry Processing
    Class 2113:
        Bacon, Ham and Smallgood Manufacturing
The 1993 edition of the ANZSIC is used to classify the 1996 Census. For more information refer to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (1292.0), available in hard copy form as well as on disk.

See also Industry (INDP).

Australian residents temporarily overseas

These people are excluded from the Census. However, data on Australian residents temporarily overseas are used by the ABS in estimating Australia's resident population.

See also Estimated Resident Population.

Australian Standard Classification of Countries for Social Statistics (ASCCSS)

The Australian Standard Classification of Countries for Social Statistics, First Edition, is used to classify the responses to the 1996 Census questions on birthplace of individual, mother and father (Questions 12,15,16).

The classification is based on the concept of geographic proximity. It groups neighbouring countries into progressively broader geographic areas on the basis of similarity in terms of social, cultural, economic and political characteristics.
The classification identifies four types of base level units which are referred to as countries:

      • independent countries (excluding their dependencies, external territories, etc.);
      • overseas dependencies, external territories, bailiwicks, etc., of independent countries;
      • units which are recognised geographic areas, the ownership or control of which is in dispute; and
      • administrative subdivisions of Australia and the United Kingdom.

The classification contains three levels. The third and most detailed level consists of the Base Units which are discrete countries. At this level there are 275 Units including 5 Other categories. The second level comprises 29 Minor Groups, which are regional groups of countries similar in terms of social, cultural, economic and political characteristics. The first and most general level comprises 9 Major Groups. These Major Groups are:
        Oceania and Antarctica
        Europe and the Former USSR
        The Middle East and North Africa
        Southeast Asia
        Northeast Asia
        Southern Asia
        Northern America
        South America, Central America and the Caribbean
        Africa (excluding North Africa).
The following example illustrates the hierarchical structure of the classification:
    Major Group
      Europe and the Former USSR
    Minor Group
      Southern Europe
    Country Unit
For further information see the ABS publication Australian Standard Classification of Countries for Social Statistics (1269.0).

See also Birthplace (BPLP).

Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO)

The Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) is used to code responses to questions on occupation in Australian censuses. In ASCO, a job is defined as a set of tasks performed by an individual and an occupation is defined as a set of jobs sufficiently similar to their main tasks to be grouped together.

ASCO First Edition was published in 1986 and was used in both the 1986 and 1991 Censuses. The 1996 Census uses ASCO Second Edition.

ASCO Second Edition is a hierarchically structured classification based on the kind of work defined in terms of skill level and skill specialisation. Skill level is assessed in terms of five broad ranges. In ASCO Second Edition, each of the nine Major Groups is assigned to one of these skill ranges.

In ASCO Second Edition, there are five hierarchical levels. These are:

      • Major Groups (9) - the broadest level of ASCO. Major groups are distinguished from each other on the basis of skill level and broadly defined skill specialisation. Each Major Group consists of at least one Sub-Major Group.
      • Sub-Major Groups (35) - these are subdivisions of the Major Groups and have been introduced in ASCO Second Edition. Sub-Major Groups are distinguished from each other on the basis of broadly defined skill specialisation. Each Sub-Major Group consists of at least one Minor Group.
      • Minor Groups (81) - these are subdivisions of the Sub-Major Groups. Minor Groups in the same Sub-Major Group are distinguished from each other on the basis of a more narrowly defined skill specialisation. Each Minor Group consists of at least one Unit Group.
      • Unit Groups (341) - these are subdivisions of the Minor Groups. Unit Groups in the same Minor Group are distinguished from each other on the basis of a finer degree of skill specialisation. Unit Groups consist of one or more occupations.
      • Occupations (987) - the most detailed level of ASCO. Occupations in the same Unit Group are distinguished from one another on the basis of detailed skill specialisation.

The ASCO codes use six digits. The first digit in the code represents the Major Group. The first and second digits indicate the Sub-Major Group. The first, second and third digits indicate the Minor Group. The first, second, third and fourth digits indicate the Unit Group, whilst all six digits indicate occupation.

The following example illustrates the coding conventions:
      Major Group:
      Sub-Major Group:
      Education Professionals
      Minor Group:
      School Teachers
      Unit Group:
      Secondary School Teachers
    2413 -11
      Secondary School Teacher
Where the respondent does not provide adequate information for the response to be coded to occupation level, the response is coded to the next highest level which is sufficiently broad to include all possibilities implied by the available information. Where this occurs, special 'Not Further Defined' (or nfd) categories are used at the more detailed levels of the classification. These categories are represented by codes ending in one or more zeros.

Occupation level data from the 1996 Census are not available as standard output. It is, however, obtainable from ABS Client Services.

Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC)

The Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) is a hierarchically structured classification used by the ABS for the classification of spatial units by geographic areas within Australia.

The ASGC areas used for census purposes are:

      • Collection District (CD)
      • Statistical Local Area (SLA)
      • Local Government Area (legal LGA)
      • Statistical Subdivision (SSD)
      • Statistical Division (SD)
      • Statistical District (SDIST)
      • Statistical Region (SR)
      • Major Statistical Region (MSR)
      • Urban Centre/Locality (UC/L)
      • Section of State (SOS)
      • State/Territory (S/T)

There is a separate entry in this dictionary defining each of these geographic areas.

The ASGC is used for most censuses and surveys within the ABS for the dissemination of data. This allows greater comparability of statistics and a standardisation of terminology.

For more information see:

Statistical Geography - Volume 1: Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) (1216.0)

Statistical Geography - Volume 2: Information Paper - Census Geographic Areas, Australia (2905.0)

Statistical Geography - Volume 3: Information Paper - Australian Standard Geographic Classification (ASGC) Urban Centres/Localities, Australia (2909.0)

See also Census Geographic Areas, Electoral Division, CD-derived Postal Areas (POC), Migratory Collection Districts, Off-Shore Collection Districts, Shipping Collection Districts, Indigenous Locations, Indigenous Areas.

Australian Standard Industrial Classification (ASIC)

See Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC).

Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC)

The Australian Statistics Advisory Council was established by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975. Under section 18(1) of the Act, the Council is to advise the Minister and the Statistician on '...(a) the improvement, extension and coordination of statistical services provided for public purposes in Australia; (b) annual and longer term priorities and programs of work that should be adopted in relation to major aspects of the provision of those statistical services; and (c) any other matters relating generally to those statistical services'.

Part of the role of ASAC involves monitoring progress on the development of the Census. In particular, ASAC advises the Minister on topics being considered for inclusion in the Census.

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