2902.0 - Census Update (Newsletter), Nov 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/11/2003   
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Australian Census Analytic Program (ACAP)

The Australian Census Analytic Program (ACAP) is a collaborative venture between the ABS and several of Australia's leading academics and social science researchers.

The program was designed to demonstrate the power of census data, whether used in isolation or when combined with other sources. Each research project conducted under ACAP involves detailed analysis of data from the 2001 Census, and significantly advances our understanding of Australia's social, cultural and economic environment.

This unprecedented level of collaboration between the ABS and the research community has led to the publication of important but previously unrevealed information about Australian society. Findings are geared towards practical policy development.

There were eight research projects conducted under the Australian Census Analytic Program, with findings being progressively released as they become available. The first four to be published are:

  • Counting the Homeless 2001
  • Indigenous Australians in the Contemporary Labour Market
  • Australia Online: How Australians are Using Computers and the Internet
  • Understanding the Changing Structure of Rural Communities

Counting the Homeless 2001

The purpose of this research was to establish the extent of homelessness in Australia at the time of the 2001 Census, using census data complemented
by survey and administrative data. It draws on earlier research using 1996 Census data which was published in Counting the Homeless: Implications for Policy Development (cat. no. 2041.0).

The report examines the different definitions of homelessness: Primary homelessness (people without conventional accommodation); Secondary homelessness (people who frequently move from one form of hostel or refuge to another); and Tertiary homelessness (people who live in boarding houses on a medium to long term basis).

Altogether, the report found that on Census night August 7 2001, there were 100,000 homeless people in Australia.

According to authors Dr Chris Chamberlain of RMIT and Mr David MacKenzie of Swinburne University, "This research project was supported by Federal and State governments as well as the Salvation Army [and] will have direct implications for the policy developers at a national and state level."

Indigenous Australians in the Contemporary Labour Market

Published as part of the Australian Census Analytic Program (ACAP), Indigenous Australians in the Contemporary Labour Market (cat.no. 2052.0) provides, for the first time, a comprehensive appraisal of Indigenous labour force status.

The publication, by Dr Boyd Hunter of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic and Policy Research at the Australian National University, shows that Indigenous people continue to be less educated, less likely to be participating in the labour force, and more likely to be unemployed. It also examines the factors underlying the differences in labour force outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Australia Online: How Australians are Using Computers and the Internet

Questions about computer and Internet use were included in the census for the first time in 2001.

This has provided the first real opportunity to examine the social, economic and regional factors that influence computer and Internet use. Australia Online: How Australians are Using Computers and the Internet (cat. no. 2056.0) reports that home computer and Internet use increases significantly with income and educational qualification. Indigenous people, people who lack fluency in English, and older women all have very low rates of use, while remote areas had lower rates of use than metropolitan areas.

These findings are valuable in targeting customers and service delivery, and in the formulation of policies to address this "digital divide".

Understanding the Changing Structure of Rural Communities

Trends in rural communities are well documented in other countries, but this is not the case in Australia. Understanding the Changing Structure of Rural Communities (cat. no. 2055.0), by Dr Neil Barr of the Centre for Land Protection Research at the Victorian Department of Primary Industries helps provide us with a better understanding of the changes in rural Australia.

The publication explores methods of combining data about rural communities from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing with agricultural activity data collected in the 2001 Agricultural Census in order to look at farming communities in their fullest context. This research significantly contributes to the policy debate in rural and regional Australia by examining the social aspects of natural resource management.