2007.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Content and Procedures, 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/11/2012   
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The objective of the collection operation is to conduct a high quality Census in a timely and cost-effective manner. In line with this objective, significant changes are being planned to overcome the challenges in recruiting field staff, to take advantage of new technologies and to become even more efficient while maintaining the coverage of the Census operation.


The delivery and collection activity being planned for the 2016 Census will see changes to the way the Census is conducted. These expected changes build on the outcomes from recent Censuses in Australia, where use of the online Census form has grown from 10% in 2006 to 33% in 2011. This increase in use highlights an expected further increase in the future, which means the way delivery and collection is undertaken needs to change to support online return as the primary approach. This approach takes into account social changes and public expectations.

The new delivery approach proposed for 2016 removes the need for Census field officers to visit every dwelling in a large proportion of areas across Australia. Instead, secure access codes for the online form will be mailed to dwellings in the first instance. These will be followed by reminders sent by mail. In these areas, paper forms will also be sent by mail if required, and householders will be able to mail their paper forms back. Census field officers in these areas will only visit households that have not participated by use of the online form or by mailing their paper form back.

In the remaining areas of Australia, a more traditional delivery and collection approach will be used. In these situations Census materials will be delivered to each dwelling to allow respondents to complete their forms online or on the paper form.

To support the Census delivery and collection activities, there will be an increase in the level of technology in the field to assist with field management and, ultimately, assist in maintaining coverage outcomes for the Census.


To support all household and business collections, including the 2016 Census, the ABS will develop an Address Register as the central source of addresses used in collection of information. The main input to the Address Register will be the Geocoded National Address File (G-NAF), with possible supplementation from other available address data sources and field work by ABS Officers.

For the 2016 Census, it is expected residential addresses from this register will be used in the mail out of access codes for the online Census form. They will also be provided to Census field officers to allow them to follow-up dwellings that have not returned a form. In areas where the address register is considered to be of poor quality, Census field officers will be recording addresses of all the dwellings they visit.

All addresses provided during the Census, including those provided on census forms or those recorded by Census field officers, may be used to validate the quality and coverage of the Address Register so that it continues to grow to be a comprehensive listing of residential and business addresses in Australia.


Historically, the ABS has used a range of targeted approaches for specific population groups to ensure that all people in Australia are included in the Census. These special strategies are designed, in consultation and collaboration with the relevant communities and/or service approaches, to ensure these groups participate in the Census and accurate information is collected.

Some examples of population groups where targeted approaches are employed to optimise accessibility and inclusion are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • people with disabilities
  • homeless people
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • people living in mining camps and fly-in/fly-out workers
  • travellers.

These strategies have included a range of different approaches for previous Censuses. More information about what was done in 2011 can be found in 2011 Census Special Enumeration Strategies (cat.no. 2911.0.55.004)

For the 2016 Census, the ABS will be reviewing these approaches and the associated procedures used in 2011, so they take into account the proposed new Census enumeration model where applicable. The ABS will also be looking at opportunities to evolve these special approaches into being a core part of the main operation to allow all Australians to participate fully in the Census.


Public cooperation with and acceptance of the Census is essential for production of high quality statistics. For this reason a public awareness campaign will be conducted prior to and during the Census. The aims of the campaign are to maintain the cooperation of the public and the high quality of the responses to the Census by informing the public of the usefulness of the statistics obtained and the confidentiality of the information provided.

Provisions will be made for those who may, for language or other reasons, have difficulty in completing the form. These provisions will be made known and advertised in the public awareness campaign.

At the time of the 2016 Census, the ABS will make available answers to commonly asked questions about the purpose of the Census. Members of the public will be able to access these through self-help facilities, and through an inquiry service. This service will also include facilities for the hard of hearing, the vision impaired and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.


It is expected that the public awareness campaign on the nature of the Census, the assurances of confidentiality and the uses of the resulting statistics will ensure maximum cooperation. Action, including legal action, will be considered only where all possible measures to ensure completion of a Census form have failed.