2901.0 - Census Dictionary, 1996  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/07/1996   
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Data Processing Centre

The Data Processing Centre (DPC) is the central site where the coding and data entry of census forms takes place. Located in Sydney for the 1996 Census, the DPC employs approximately 1,200 temporary staff during peak processing time.

When all the census forms have been completed on census night, they are collected and returned to the State distribution offices or sent directly to the DPC. They are boxed into packs by Collection District (CD) for processing.

To maintain the confidentiality of the data, the census forms are taken from the DPC to be pulped after processing and validation are completed.

See also Confidentiality, Input Processing.

Data quality

All stages of the Census are subject to stringent quality assurance procedures which result in data of high quality. However, the Census is subject to a number of errors, although the effect of such errors on overall census results is generally insignificant and does not impair the usefulness of census data.

See also Derivations and Imputations, Error, Input Processing. Introduced Random Error, Undercounting and/or Underenumeration.

Data Release

For the 1996 Census there is a two-phase approach to processing and release of census data. Easy-to-process topics, which comprise the majority of the census topics, are included in the first release of the data. The remaining topics, which require more complex processing, are included in the second release.

See also CDATA96, Community Profiles, First Release Data, Publications, Second Release Data.

Date of the Census

The 1996 Census was conducted on 6 August 1996.

Note that 5 August 1996 was an official Bank Holiday in New South Wales. Journey to Work data from the 1996 Census are not adversely affected by this, because the reference period for these data was 6 August 1996.

De facto

See Census Counts - Place of Enumeration, Marital Status.

De Facto Population Counts

See Census Counts - Place of Enumeration.

De Jure Population Counts

See Census Counts - Place of Usual Residence.

Dependent Child Type

See Child Type (CTPP), Family.

Dependent Children

A dependent child is an individual who is either a child under 15 or a dependent student, which is any child in a family under
15 years of age or aged 15-24 years and who is a full-time student. To be regarded as a child the individual can have no partner or child of his/her own usually resident in the same household.

A dependent child must be attached to a nominal parent with whom he/she usually resides. This parent must be over 15 years of age.

See also Family, Household, Temporarily Absent.

Dependent Children, Count of (CDCAF)

See Dependent Children, Household, Temporarily Absent.

Dependent Foster Child

See Dependent Child, Foster Child.

Dependent Offspring

See Dependent Children, Relationship.

Dependent Student

A dependent student is defined as a natural, adopted, step or foster child who is 15-24 years of age and who attends a secondary or tertiary educational institution as a full-time student, and who has no partner or child of his/her own usually resident in the same household.

The definition of a 'child' is more restrictive for the 15-24 age group in that unrelated persons in this age group are excluded from family coding.

Boarders and lodgers living with a family are automatically excluded from all family coding once they are 15 years or older unless some familial relationship is also present. The family relationship would then take precedence over the fact they are boarders or lodgers.

See also Boarder, Child, Foster Child, Lodger, Related Individuals, Step-Child.

Derivations and Imputations

Some census data need to be derived in cases where a question has not been answered. For example, if birthplace of mother (Question 16 BPFP) has not been completed by a child, but the mother states a birthplace, the child's mother's birthplace (BPFP) can be derived.

Other data which may be derived when no response is given are Birthplace of Individual (BPLP), Birthplace of Father (BPMP), Language (LANP) and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Origin (ABLP). If there is insufficient information provided to derive an entry for these items, they remain as not stated.

Derivation is also used to create some variables whose code is determined from responses to several questions. Housing Loan Repayment (HLRD), Rent (RNTD), Tenure Type (TEND) and Labour Force Status/Status in Employment (LFSP) are all derived from several questions.

Age (AGEP), Sex (SEXP), Registered Marital Status (MSTP), State of Usual Residence Census Night (STEUCP), SLA of Usual Residence Census Night (SLAUCP) and Postcode of Usual Address Census Night (POCUCP) are the only variables which are fully imputed in the 1996 Census. There is no 'Not Stated' category for these variables. Where the information cannot be derived from other data provided on the census form, data is imputed on the basis of distributions obtained from previous censuses.

See also Age (AGEP), Input Processing, Labour Force Status/Status in Employment (LFSP), Registered Marital Status (MSTP), Sex (SEXP), Usual Address.

Desktop mapping packages

Software packages which run on personal computers, which have the ability to process digital geographic information.

Destination Zone

See Journey to Work.

Digital Base map data

Spatial features of a map are represented as objects and stored in computer file as points and vectors. Aspatial data such as the names of features can be associated with these objects.

The 1996 Census digital base map data are being provided under an agreement between the ABS and the Public Sector Mapping Agencies (PSMA).

The 1996 Census digital base maps include:

      • 1996 ABS/PSMA All-point Base Map; and
      • 1996 ABS/PSMA Reduced Base Map.

The All-point Base Map is derived from the Output Spatial Database (OSD) and the Reduced Base Map is derived from the Reduced Output spatial Database (ROSD).

The ABS wants to ensure that its clients have access to the digital base maps as it recognises the importance they have for many clients: firstly, in underpinning the 1996 Census digital boundaries; and secondly, in the further dimensions that they add to the analysis that many ABS clients wish to undertake.

        The PSMA have majority ownership of the ABS/PSMA joint copyright of the digital base maps. The 1996 ABS/PSMA Reduced Base Map is available from the ABS as an option in CDATA96. The ABS does not sell the base map data outside of CDATA96.

        Detailed product information, such as quality indicators and content details, can be obtained from the PSMA, or in the case of CDATA96, the ABS.

        The PSMA dissemination strategy for the 1996 ABS/PSMA digital base maps ties in closely with the ABS strategy for dissemination of the 1996 Census digital boundaries (see above). The digital base maps are available from selected organisations in the ABS network of secondary providers as well as other resellers appointed by the PSMA.

See also CDATA96, Digital Boundaries, Output Spatial Database, Public Sector Mapping Agencies, Reduced Output Spatial Database.

Digital boundaries

The 1996 Census digital boundaries facilitate the analysis and display of 1996 Census statistical data through their use in various software packages. Statistical data from other ABS collections, or from other sources, can also be used in conjunction with these boundaries. However the geographic areas on which the data are based must concord with the 1996 Census boundaries.

The 1996 Census digital boundaries are available in three types:

      • 1996 Census All-point Boundaries;
      • 1996 Census Reduced Boundaries; and
      • 1996 Census Shapes Boundaries.

Census All-point Boundaries: the 1996 Census All-point Boundaries were drawn from the Output Spatial Database (OSD) and therefore represent the boundaries at the highest level of detail possible. They are intended for use in sophisticated GIS systems that are capable of dealing with graphical elements containing large numbers of points. The All-point Boundaries align with the 1996 ABS/PSMA All-point Base Map. They do not necessarily align with any other digital base map.

The data quality and spatial accuracy of these boundaries are closely linked to the digital base map upon which they were based.

Census Reduced Boundaries: these are a filtered version of the 1996 Census All-point Boundaries and were drawn from the Reduced Output Spatial Database (ROSD). These boundaries are intended for use in GIS and desktop mapping packages. 'Low-end' mapping modules, such as those included in Excel 95 and Lotus 123, are capable of using these boundaries. However, display speeds may be fairly slow. The 1996 Census Reduced Boundaries align with the 1996 ABS/PSMA Reduced Base Map. They do not necessarily align with any other digital base map (see Use with alternative digital base maps, below).
When using these boundaries, users should be aware that, as a result of the reduction process used to create these boundaries, they are not exact in area and extent. They therefore should not be used for highly detailed spatial analysis involving attributes that are highly dependant on area and extent factors.

Census Shapes Boundaries: these are a version of the 1996 Census Reduced Boundaries that have undergone further filtering. These boundaries have been drawn from the Shapes Output Spatial Database. The boundaries have been specifically created for use in 'low-end' mapping modules such as those included in Excel 95 and Lotus 123 where the low number of points used to create these shapes boundaries enable much faster display speeds. GIS and Desktop Mapping Packages are able to use these boundaries but the limitations described below should be considered in all uses. The 1996 Census Shapes Boundaries do not align with the any of the 1996 ABS/PSMA Digital Base Maps.

The extent and area of these Shapes Boundaries have been significantly altered by the additional filtering used to produce them. Due to these changes they should not be used for any analysis involving extent or area attributes derived from the spatial data. Area data for any of the geographic areas represented by the Shapes Boundaries can be obtained from ABS Client Services (refer to the contact list at the end of this publication). The boundaries should also only be used for broad level thematic mapping. If used for detailed mapping purposes, extrapolation of boundary detail is not valid.

Dissemination of boundaries: the dissemination of the 1996 Census digital boundaries is through a network of ABS appointed secondary providers. Each secondary provider has a non-exclusive license to distribute, and provide after sales support for, a set of nominated file formats. It has been the intention of the ABS that all common industry formats be covered by at least one supplier with experience in that format.

Statistical data for use in conjunction with the 1996 Census digital boundaries can be obtained from ABS Client Services.

Use with alternative digital base maps: the 1996 Census digital boundaries may be used in conjunction with base map data other than the recommended ABS/PSMA base map, however, alignment of boundaries to these alternative base maps cannot be expected. This is due to three factors:

If the alternative base map is not derived from the same digitising source then the points defining each of the corresponding features is different and the boundaries do not align perfectly.

The original ABS/PSMA base map is spatially accurate to specific tolerances. If an alternative base map has different spatial accuracy characteristics then the boundaries cannot be expected to align.

The Shapes and Reduced Boundaries have undergone filtering which has reduced their spatial accuracy. This substantially reduces the likelihood that these boundaries fit to an alternative base map. This effect increases with the level of filtering.
Copyright on boundaries: The copyright and intellectual property rights for the 1996 Census digital boundaries are retained solely by the Commonwealth of Australia and are administered by the ABS. Any use of the boundaries is subject to a standard licence agreement to be signed by parties purchasing the boundaries.

See also See also Digital Base Map Data, Output Spatial Database, Reduced Output Spatial Database, Shapes Output Spatial Database.

Digital Spatial Data

See Centroid, Digital Boundaries, Digital Base Map Data, Census Geographic areas.

Digital Topography

See Digital Base Map Data.


See Digital Boundaries.

Diplomatic Representatives and Dwellings

Foreign diplomatic personnel, their families and their dwellings are outside the scope of the Census. This derives from the Vienna Convention. In practice, a diplomat is defined as someone entitled to travel on a diplomatic passport.

Directory of Census Statistics

The Directory of Census Statistics contains a summary of the broad range of publications, electronic products, maps and consultancy services available from the 1996 Census. The products and services are progressively released between 1997 and 1999 as the detailed data becomes available. A brief description (abstract) of the contents of each item is provided, as well as details of the geographic coverage, price, availability by medium and ordering information.


See Field Management Area (FMA), Statistical Division.


See Registered Marital Status (MSTP).


A dwelling is a building or structure in which people live. This can be a building, such as a house; part of a building, such as a flat; or it could be a caravan or tent, humpy or park bench.

Dwellings can be obvious and easily classified (i.e. separate houses in a suburban street) or not obvious and difficult to classify (i.e. a caretaker's room at the back of a factory).

There are private and non-private dwellings. All private dwellings are enumerated using Household Forms while people in non-private dwellings are enumerated using Personal Forms.

Houses under construction, derelict houses, vacant tents, or converted garages, are not counted in the Census.

Occupied Private Dwelling: A private dwelling is normally a house, flat, part of a house, or even a room; but can also be a house attached to, or rooms above, shops or offices; an occupied caravan in a caravan park or craft in a marina; a houseboat; or a tent if it is standing on its own block of land. An occupied caravan situated on a residential allotment is also classed as a private dwelling.

An occupied private dwelling is a private dwelling occupied by a household on census night. A household is either a person living alone or people living and eating together.

Occupied dwellings within caravan parks, marinas, Manufactured Home Estates (MHEs) and self-care units in Accommodation for the Retired or Aged are all treated as private dwellings (i.e. enumerated with the Household Form) for census purposes. Information is also collected in the Census on the location of these dwellings (for example, caravan park or retirement village) to allow the analysis of data for people residing in different types of establishments, if desired.

In censuses prior to 1986, caravan parks were classified as non-private dwellings, and no family relationship data were collected from the individual households within the parks. For and since the 1986 Census, an occupied caravan, tent, cabin, etc. in a caravan park, and occupied craft in marinas, have been defined as census households and are treated as occupied private dwellings. Data on family and household for these are collected, and are available for 1986 and 1991. This change in classification affects comparison of some household and family data with censuses prior to 1986. Caravans etc. in caravan parks are separately identified by the variable Dwelling Location (DLOD). For the 1996 Census, dwellings in Manufactured Home Estates (MHEs) and self-care units in Accommodation for the Retired or Aged are now also treated the same way as occupied caravans etc. in caravan parks and occupied craft in marinas.

Unoccupied Private Dwellings: These are structures built specifically for living purposes which are habitable, but unoccupied on census night. Vacant houses, holiday homes, huts and cabins (other than seasonal workers' quarters) are counted as unoccupied dwellings. Also included are newly completed dwellings not yet occupied, dwellings which are vacant because they are due for demolition or repair, dwellings to let, and dwellings where all members of the household were absent on census night.

Unoccupied private dwellings in caravan parks, marinas and Manufactured Home Estates and self-care units in Accommodation for the Retired or Aged are not counted in the Census. The exception in these cases are residences of owners, managers or caretakers (of the establishment) which are counted if they are unoccupied on census night.

Non-Private Dwellings (NPDs): Non-Private Dwellings are those dwellings, not included above, that provide a communal or transitory type of accommodation, and are classified according to their function. These dwellings include hotels, motels, guest houses, prisons, religious and charitable institutions, defence establishments, hospitals and other communal dwellings. In most cases, a non-private dwelling is clearly identified by an external sign such as 'Sundown Motel' or 'Seaside Caravan Park' or 'Pentridge Gaol'.

People in Non-Private Dwellings are enumerated on Personal Forms and so information on family structures is not collected. As described above under Private Dwellings, the exceptions to this are caravan parks, marinas, manufactured home estates and self-care units in Accommodation for the Retired or Aged. In these establishments, people are enumerated on Household Forms and information on families is available. In the case of Accommodation for the Retired or Aged where the one establishment contains both cared and self-care units then both Household Forms (self-care) and Personal Forms (cared) are used as appropriate.

A list is provided to census collectors to ensure, where possible, that previously identified and classified NPDs are correctly enumerated. Other NPDs are found during the collection phase of the Census and each is classified in accordance with responses provided by the owner/staff of the NPD. Special collectors are recruited to enumerate NPDs (including caravan parks etc.) which are expected to contain more than 30 people on census night.

Unoccupied Non-Private Dwellings: Unoccupied Non-Private Dwellings are not counted in the Census. Owners, managers or caretakers residences which are unoccupied on census night are counted.

See also Caravans, Dwelling Location (DLOD), Dwelling Structure (STRD), Households.

Dwelling Location (DLOD)

This is a new classificatory variable for the 1996 Census. Dwelling Location (DLOD) applies only to private dwellings and is separated into caravan park, marina, self-care accommodation for retired/aged, Manufactured Home Estate, and other. The majority of private dwellings will appear in the 'other' category.

See also Dwelling structure (STRD), Dwelling Type (DWTD).

Dwelling Structure (STRD)

This variable records the type of structure of all private dwellings enumerated in the Census, and includes occupied caravans and improvised dwellings. The information is provided by the census collector on the back of the Household Form.

Categories are:

      • Separate house: a separate house is where a house stands separately in its own grounds separated from other dwellings by at least half a metre. A separate house may have a flat attached to it, such as a granny flat or converted garage (the flat is categorised under flat or apartment below). The number of storeys of separate houses is not recorded.
      • Semi-detached, row or terrace house, townhouse, etc.: semi-detached houses, duplexes, row or terrace houses and villa units are dwellings where the dwelling has its own private grounds and no other dwelling above or below it. They are further classified as 1 storey or, 2 or more storeys.
      • Flat, unit or apartment in a 1 or 2 storey block, in a 3 storey block, in a 4 or more storey block or attached to a house: this category includes all dwellings in blocks of flats, units or apartments. These dwellings do not have their own private grounds and usually share a common entrance foyer or stairwell. This category also includes flats attached to houses such as granny flats, and houses converted into two or more flats.
      • Caravans, cabin, houseboat: this category includes all types of occupied accommodation units within a caravan park (except separate house(s) occupied by the manager(s)). Included in this category are occupied craft in marinas. Not included in this category are occupied accommodation units in manufactured home estates which are identified as separate houses.
      • Improvised home, sleepers out, tent: this category includes people enumerated in sheds, humpies and other improvised dwellings, etc., occupied on census night. It also includes people sleeping on park benches or in other 'rough' accommodation (the traditional definition of homeless people). Also, tents occupied on census night which are not in caravan parks are in this category.
      • House or flat attached to a shop, office, etc.: a house or flat attached to a shop, office, factory or any other non-residential structure is included in this category.

Other dwelling related variables are:
      • Number of Bedrooms in Private Dwelling (BEDD);
      • Dwelling Type (DWTD);
      • Furnished/Unfurnished (FUFD);
      • Housing Loan Repayments (monthly) (HLRD);
      • Landlord (LLDD);
      • Rent (weekly) (RNTD);
      • Tenure Type (TEND); and
      • Type of Non-Private Dwelling (NPDD).

Data on dwelling structure are used to monitor changes in housing characteristics, to help formulate housing policies and to review existing housing stock.

See Caravans, Dwelling, Dwelling Location (DLOD), Dwelling Type (DWTD), Number of Motor Vehicles (VEHD), Tenure Type (TEND).

Dwelling Type (DWTD)

This variable classifies all dwelling into basic dwelling types. Dwellings are enumerated in the Census as one of the following:

      • occupied private dwellings;
      • unoccupied private dwellings;
      • non-private dwelling;
      • migratory; and
      • off-shore.

Private dwellings include occupied residences in caravan parks, marinas, manufactures homes, and accommodation for the retired or aged (self-care).

People enumerated in Shipping Collection Districts appear under the offshore category.

See also Dwelling, Dwelling Location (DLOD), Dwelling Structure (STRD), Migratory Collection Districts, Shipping Collection Districts, Type of Non-Private Dwelling (NPDD).

Dwelling Variables

The following are a list of the dwelling variables that are available:

      Number of Bedrooms in Private Dwellings
      Count of Persons Temporarily Absent from Household
      Dwelling Location
      Dwelling Type
      Household Type
      Household Income Derivation Indicator
      Household Income
      Housing Loan Repayment (Monthly)
      Housing Loan Repayment (Monthly)
      Landlord Type
      Household One Year Mobility Indicator
      Household Five Year Mobility Indicator
      Type of Non-Private Dwelling
      Rent (Weekly)
      Rent (Weekly)
      Dwelling Structure
      Tenure Type
      Number of Motor Vehicles
Other variables can be derived using the above variables as a base. If you would like more information, please contact the Client Services Section for your State/Territory, as listed in the back of this publication.

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