ABS releases publication on planning for the 2021 Census


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today released its blueprint for the delivery of the 2021 Census.

Planning for the 2021 Census outlines the ABS’ commitment to ensuring the nation’s most significant and challenging statistical collection gathers high quality data, is a cost effective process enabling easy participation and assures the privacy of personal information.

Australian Statistician, David Kalisch, said that Census data was critical to Australian democracy and society.

“The 2021 Census will continue the ABS legacy of providing trusted, contemporary information relied on by governments, businesses and the community for important decisions such as updating electoral boundaries, funding for states and territories, and planning for healthcare, education, infrastructure and community services,” he said.

“Census is a continuous cycle — the planning of the 2021 Census started even before the ABS released the 2016 Census data.

“The ABS has already achieved significant milestones in preparation for the 2021 Census. This includes engaging suppliers to provide the Census’ online services, field staff recruitment and an independent Privacy Impact Assessment.

“Drawing on an extensive public consultation process and testing by the ABS, the Australian Government is considering Census topics for 2021.”

In 2021, the ABS will continue to deliver a predominantly digital Census, including an online form, website information and assistance to help people participate. Paper forms will also be readily available.

From October 2019, the ABS will start testing processes to ensure the next Census runs smoothly, is easy for people to participate in and produces quality data.

The publication also includes information on how the ABS will consider the length of time to keep names and addresses from the 2021 Census. This will be informed by an independent Privacy Impact Assessment in consultation with members of the community, privacy experts and other stakeholders. The process will commence later this year and be finalised in 2020.

In 2016, the ABS committed to destroying names and addresses collected in the 2016 Census within four years. In line with this, names collected in the 2016 Census have already been destroyed. Address information from the 2016 Census is required for longer, to develop and test new processing systems for the 2021 Census, and will be destroyed by August 2020 at the latest.


    Media notes

    • The Planning the Census publication provides more information on how the ABS proposes to conduct the 2021 Census and explains how the ABS will protect the privacy and confidentiality of the information provided.
    • Learn about how community organisations use Census data through our ‘Your Census Counts’ videos.
    • For media requests and interviews, contact ABS Media on 1300 175 070 or at media@abs.gov.au (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
    • Subscribe to our media release notification service to be notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
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