Population and Housing (Census of)

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    The Population Census is conducted every five years and collects a range of demographic, social and economic information from all people and dwellings (excluding diplomatic personnel and dwellings) in Australia on census night. Information is available in a range for all geographic areas from collection district upwards.

    The purpose of the census is to measure the number and key characteristics of persons and dwellings in Australia on census night. This provides a reliable basis to estimate the population for each state and territory and local government area for electoral purposes and distribution of government funds. The census also provides the characteristics of the Australian population and its housing for small areas and small population groups to support the planning, administration and policy development activities of governments, business and other users.

    All persons and dwellings in Australia and the external Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) islands on Census Night excluding diplomats, their families and diplomatic dwellings, and visitors from overseas who are not required to undergo migration formalities, such as foreign crews on ships.


    Conceptual framework
    The Census of Population and Housing measures the number and key characteristics of people in Australia on census night, and the dwellings in which they live. The Census includes all people in Australia on census night with the exception of foreign diplomats and their families. Visitors to Australia are counted regardless of how long they have been in the country or how long they plan to stay. Australian residents out of the country on census night are out of the scope of the census. The Territories of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island have been included in the Census since 1996. Following the 1961 Census, Australia has had a census taken every five years.

    One of the important features of the Census is that it allows different characteristics of an individual, family or household to be related. While information on some characteristics is available from other sources, only a census can provide information on a standard basis for the country as a whole, as well as for small geographic areas and small population groups.

    Main outputs
    QuickStats, MapStats & Census Tables and Community Profiles form the core of most standard census products.

    The census uses Australian Standard Classifications where available and appropriate. Examples of these are the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) or the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC). These Australian Standard Classifications are used as the basis on which to build some census-specific classifications such as Birthplace of Individual which uses SACC. These Australian Standard Classifications are reviewed on an irregular basis to reflect changes in the Australian social environment. Where an Australian Standard Classification is not available, classifications specific to census variables have been developed.

    Other concepts (summary)

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory
    Statistical Division
    Statistical Subdivision
    Statistical Local Area
    Census Collection District
    Legal Local Government Area
    Statistical District
    Major Statistical Region
    Statistical Region
    Statistical Region Sector
    Urban Centre/Locality
    Section of State
    Commonwealth Electoral Division
    State Electoral Division/District
    CD Derived Suburb
    CD Derived Postcode
    Capital City Statistical Division
    Other (specify below)

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    Includes the territories of Cocos (Keeling) and Christmas Islands (known as Other Territories), Indigenous Location, Indigenous Area, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission Region, and Australian Standard Geographic Classification Remoteness structure

    5 Yearly

    Frequency comments
    Following the 1961 Census, Australia has had a Census taken every five years, a practice which has now become mandatory with the amendment to the Census and Statistics Act in 1977 requiring that 'the census shall be taken in the year 1981 and in every fifth year thereafter, and at such other times as prescribed'.

    The first census in Australia as we know them was in New South Wales in 1828. Each of the colonies conducted their own censuses until 1886. The first simultaneous census of Australia was conducted in 1881 as part of a census of the British Empire. A subsequent simultaneous census was conducted for Australia in 1901. The first census conducted by the Commonwealth of Australia was in 1911. Subsequent censuses were conducted in 1921, 1933, 1947, 1954 and 1961. From 1961, a census has been conducted every five years.


    Data availability comments

    07/06/2007 08:50 AM