2911.0.55.004 - Information Paper: 2011 Census Special Enumeration Strategies, 2011  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/08/2012  First Issue
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During the Census Operation
Key Challenges


The Remote Travellers Strategy was developed for the 2011 Census in response to the increasing number of people travelling in remote areas at Census time. This strategy did not cover all travellers across Australia, but was targeted at people travelling remotely and, for example, camping at small roadside stops or within remote national parks and reserves rather than staying in recognised accommodation and known locations.

The key objectives for the 2011 Census Remote Travellers Strategy were to:

  • improve coverage of travellers in remote areas;
  • improve public awareness of information available for travellers in remote areas;
  • improve information available to travellers through the Census website and the Census Inquiry Service; and
  • provide key collection points for Census forms, mailback envelopes and eCensus material to be available for pick up.


Collection points were identified in remote locations in each state and territory, where travellers would be able to obtain a Census form and eCensus material.

Extensive research of travellers websites, visitors centres, remote national parks, tourism operators, police stations, truck stops, roadhouses and remote camping ground locations was done to obtain a comprehensive list of locations travellers may pass through or bed down for the night. Census Management Units engaged with key organisations and state and territory government departments to build an understanding of the numbers of remote travellers and where their probable locations would be in August 2011. This information was used to design and implement the strategy in each state. It also determined where collection points were going to be most effective.

Suitable collection points included:
  • tourist and visitor information centres;
  • state and national park offices;
  • roadhouses and truck stops;
  • road transport authority weigh stations and inspection centres; and
  • telecentres, Australian Government offices or Centrelink offices in remote towns and regional centres (such as Katherine, Broome and Mount Isa).

Consultation with key state government departments led to offers of assistance in providing information on online booking systems for campers; cooperation from state rangers to assist Census staff; and the provision of information on the number of campers with bookings in national parks the week before Census night. To raise awareness of the Census with people travelling in remote areas around Census night, approval was given by state transport departments to erect directional signs at roadside rest areas to indicate the closest collection point at which travellers could pick up a Census form and eCensus material.


Each identified collection point was pre-stocked with quantities of travellers packs to be distributed to travellers. Approximately 12,000 packs were issued to around 190 locations.

Each pack contained a pre-numbered paper Census form, an eCensus envelope, a mailback envelope, a Census brochure and instructions for the traveller. The instructions explained to the traveller how to submit an eCensus return or mail back the paper form, as well as how to record their location on Census night, for example, by giving the GPS coordinates of their stopping point.

The collection points were advertised on the Census website from 1st August and were also available through the Census Inquiry Service. The 2011 Census website promoted the collection points and provided clear options for remote travellers, including how to access the eCensus and general information on where people could get help. Travellers could get packs from the collection points from 1st August until 15th August 2011.

Collection point locations varied from visitor information centres throughout Queensland (Winton, Cunnamulla, Charleville, Laura and Cooktown), police stations and roadhouses in Western Australia (Karratha Police station, Kunawarritji community roadhouse) to truck stops, ranger stations, and houseboats along the Murray River, in South Australia.

Census field staff worked closely with the managers and staff at each collection point to ensure they had sufficient forms and to provide support. In some instances staff at collection points were employed by the ABS as Special Collectors.

Communication approach

Communication activities were channelled through national, state and local avenues such as grey nomad associations and websites, tourism magazines, newspapers, tour operators, industry newsletters and email networks to assist with the distribution of brochures, posters and information about the Census. These materials were also displayed anywhere that Census enumeration travellers packs were available.

Key messages included:
  • everyone must be counted no matter where you are on Census night;
  • the purpose and benefits of the Census;
  • personal information is confidential and will not be shared;
  • where to go for more information;
  • information about how to pick up and return a form after Census night; and
  • directions on how families of truck drivers and children on school trips should record the absence of a family member on their Census form.

Collection Point Poster 1 Collection point Poster 2 Collection Point Poster 3


Quantities of travellers packs were sent to locations based on estimated numbers obtained from a range of sources. In some remote 'hot spots', the number of packs was underestimated, as there were far more travellers than had been anticipated. The CMUs held reserve supplies of travellers packs and these were sent out to locations where more packs were needed.

Encouraging remote travellers to use the eCensus option was a challenge. Form return data from the Data Processing Centre indicated that less than 2 per cent of remote travellers chose to use eCensus while 33 per cent chose to mail their forms back. As technology continues to change and improve, future Censuses may see far more people in remote areas choosing to complete their Census online.