2903.0 - How Australia Takes a Census, 2011  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/04/2011   
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About the eCensus

The eCensus is a facility that enables people to complete the Census Form via the Internet. The eCensus aims to provide a fast, easy and secure option for respondents.

Introducing eCensus has created various efficiencies in collecting and processing data. eCensus forms are processed immediately, without waiting for bulk deliveries of materials three weeks after Census night.For example, 2006 where all personnel in Australia's Antarctic Territories completed an eCensus form. This took months off the time it has traditionally taken for paper forms to be returned via sea.

It is hoped that the success of the 2006 eCensus will see an increase in numbers of people submitting their 2011 Census Form online. The ABS is targeting a minimum of 30%, and perhaps as high as 40%, take up of eCensus lodgement. The eCensus option will be widely advertised and details will be available from Census Collectors. Below are statistics reflecting the number of eCensus forms returned by State in 2006.

Image showing ecensus take up rate

How Secure is the eCensus?

A critical feature of eCensus is the first-rate security it uses to protect the privacy of all personal information collected. The connection from the user's computer to the eCensus is protected using 128-bit SSL encryption, the same encryption technology used for internet banking. The system has been designed to be best practice and complies with the Australian Government Information Security Manual developed by the Defence Signals Directorate. The security has been independently reviewed and thoroughly tested to ensure that people's private information is secure.

With a tool such as eCensus, respondents are able to save and exit their form, return later and view data they have previously entered, without the system administrators in the data centre being able to access the decrypted data. The encrypted data is transmitted to the ABS once a form is fully completed, and then decrypted for processing.

The security of Census information also relies upon the confidentiality of the eCensus Number. Ensuring that a household's eCensus Number is stored in a secure manner will prevent others from using the number to access private information. Once the eCensus form has been submitted, it cannot be retrieved by the user.

eCensus Accessibility

The eCensus application has been designed to work on commonly used computer technology and be accessible for everyone. The eCensus has been designed to comply with accepted accessibility standards as set out by the World Wide Web Consortium.

Text in eCensus can be resized and contrasting colours have been used to make the text easier to read. In particular, persons with visual impairment or with limited motor skills will be able to independently complete their Census form through the use of assisting technologies such as screen readers. The form has been designed to be compatible with commonly used screenreader programs such as Jaws© and Windows Eyes©.