2062.0 - Census Data Enhancement project: An update, 2011  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/11/2014  Ceased
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The 2011 Census Data Enhancement (CDE) project has been undertaken with privacy and confidentiality at the centre of all stages of the project. There have been no breaches of personal identification or privacy.

All personal information used in the CDE project is kept confidential. The Census and Statistics Act 1905 guarantees this protection and legally prevents all ABS staff (including temporary employees) from disclosing information in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a person or organisation. In addition, the ABS undertakes its operations in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988.

This section describes the processes for managing personal information in the CDE project. These include:

  • legislative protection;
  • destruction of Census forms and name and address information;
  • functional separation;
  • access to ABS information;
  • data security; and
  • accreditation as a Commonwealth Integrating Authority.


All ABS officers are bound by strict secrecy provisions under the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Officers sign an undertaking of fidelity and secrecy to ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities about Census data. Section 19 of the Census and Statistics Act 1905 forbids past or present ABS officers from divulging information collected under this Act, either directly or indirectly, under penalty of up to 120 penalty units (currently $20,400) or imprisonment for 2 years or both.

These protections apply to all data collected by, or supplied to the ABS, including the data used for the CDE project and to all datasets generated from these data.

More information about the legislation governing the ABS can be found at ABS Legislative Framework


The ABS destroys Census forms (hardcopy and electronic) after statistical processing has been completed. Name and address information is not retained. The only exception is if a person explicitly requests that their data is to be archived, by answering the relevant question on the Census form to have their name-identified responses retained by the National Archives of Australia for release in 99 years time (see Glossary for further detail). The ABS does not retain copies of this information.


In accordance with the high level principles for data integration involving Commonwealth data, the ABS implements functional separation in all data integration projects. Functional separation means that staff undertaking data linkage projects are assigned to different roles so that no ABS officer can see the identifying details of an individual as well as the information they have provided, at the same time. Similarly, datasets containing personal information are stored separately and securely from datasets containing other information. These procedures ensure that an individual's identity remains protected during the linking and analysis process.


ABS confidentiality procedures ensure all aggregate and microdata outputs disseminated by the ABS are unlikely to enable the identification of a particular person.

Access to linked datasets is made available to researchers and policy makers through the TableBuilder subscription service. TableBuilder is an online tool that maintains confidentiality while allowing users to cross tabulate and analyse data. More information about this service can be found on the ABS website.

The ABS also offers consultancies to produce confidentialised, aggregate data tables, data cubes or publications specific to user needs. Standard data confidentiality rules apply. Contact data.integration@abs.gov.au for more information on linked datasets.

The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS handles any personal information that you provide us.


The ABS maintains practices of a high standard to ensure the security of all information it holds. These include:
  • strong security arrangements for all ABS information technology systems. ABS conforms with IT Security arrangements set out in the Australian Government Information Security Manual ASCI 33;
  • strict control of access to all ABS premises in accordance with the Commonwealth Protective Security Manual to ensure compliance with legislative responsibilities;
  • appropriate personnel security arrangements. Upon appointment all ABS staff undergo security checks and are required to sign an undertaking of fidelity and secrecy;
  • a secured Internet gateway which is reviewed annually by Defence Signals Directorate;
  • regular Protective Security risk reviews to ensure that security arrangements continue to be effective; and
  • an ongoing program of security audits and reviews of computer systems and the physical environment.


The ABS is an accredited Integrating Authority, acknowledging that it has the requisite expertise, skills and knowledge, infrastructure and secure environment to undertake high risk data integration projects involving Commonwealth data for statistical and research purposes. Accredited Integrating Authorities remain subject to all relevant legislation, such as the Privacy Act 1988.