3414.0 - Guide to Migrant Statistical Sources, 2011 (Edition 2)  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/03/2011   
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Census of Population and Housing


The Census of Population and Housing is conducted every five years and aims to accurately measure the number and certain key characteristics of people in Australia on Census Night and the dwellings in which they live; and to provide timely, high quality and relevant data to complement the rich but broad level data provided by ABS surveys. 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, non-government organisations, community groups and other users.

The Census collects information relating to persons, households and dwellings. Topics relating to persons include a wide range of demographic information, education, income, employment, labour force status, unpaid work and more. Topics relating to households and dwellings include family relationship, income (family and household), characteristics of household, housing and dwelling type, financial arrangements associated with housing and more.

Data items contained within these topics are capable of being cross classified with Data Items Relevant to Migrants and Ethnicity.

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.



The following list contains data items and how the question is worded (appearing in italics):

  • Country of birth
    In which country was the person born?
  • Year of arrival in Australia
    In what year did the person first arrive in Australia to live here for one year or more?
  • Australian citizenship
    Is the person an Australian citizen? - Yes / No?
  • Country of birth (parents)
    Australia or overseas
  • Ancestry
    What is the person's ancestry?
    (more information on ancestry is contained in the Census Dictionary glossary entry on Ancestry and the Ancestry variables as well as in the 2006 Census of Population and Housing - Fact Sheets)
  • Languages spoken
    Does the person speak a language other than English at home? If yes write / state the language. (If more than one language other than English is spoken respondents are asked to write the one spoken most often.)
  • English-speaking proficiency
    How well does the person speak English? Not at all, Not well, Well, Very Well


An outline of the content of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, including a full list of topics (included in the 2006 Census) is available in Census Dictionary, 2006 (cat. no. 2901.0).

For further details on scope, geographic coverage, data availability and publications, methodology, classifications and concepts visit the Census of Population and Housing entry in the Directory of Statistical Sources.


The Migrant Data Matrices provide a link to summary data on migrants from the Census of Population and Housing. The data items included in each datacube are not exhaustive, but rather a selection of the data available. Care must be taken in comparing data from different collections presented in the Matrices due to differences in survey methodology, definitions and reference periods.

Additional data are also available in the publication Census of Population of Housing, Place of Enumeration Profile (cat. no. 2004.0).


For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service.

Phone: 1300 135 070
Fax: 1300 135 211
Post: Client Services, ABS, GPO Box 796, Sydney 2001
Email: client.services@abs.gov.au