The Census is one of Australia’s most important national assets. It is a snapshot of Australia and tells the story of how we are changing. The Census helps us understand what we need now, and into the future.
Like many other countries, Australia is increasing its use of administrative data in how it runs the 5-yearly Census. Each step along the way we are carefully considering data security and privacy protections, including undertaking Privacy Impact Assessments.
For the 2016 Census we used administrative data to create an Address register. This helped us significantly reduce the cost of conducting the Census by mailing out online access codes and forms to most Australians instead of dropping them off in person.
For the 2021 Census we expanded the use of administrative data further, using integrated data from the Multi-agency data integration project (MADIP) to improve the quality of Census counts and official population estimates. In April 2023, we also enhanced the data available from the 2021 Census by adding new income measures derived from administrative data.
Following the Census, the Statistical independent assurance panel, in its report on the quality of 2021 Census data, was 'pleased to note data quality improvements resulting from enhancements to occupancy determination and imputation for non-responding households, most notably as a result of the use of administrative data.' The Panel highlighted greater use of administrative data in their opportunities for future censuses.
For the 2026 Census, we are investigating further enhancements using administrative data. These include the possibility of adding more topics, replacing some questions, providing missing information, and using administrative data to run the Census more efficiently.