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Contents >> Statistical Programs >> Census of Population and Housing

Census of Population and Housing

The Census program conducts a five-yearly Census of Population and Housing. The program aims to accurately and efficiently measure the number and key characteristics of people in Australia on Census night. This provides a reliable basis to estimate the population of each State, Territory and local government area, primarily for electoral purposes (including determining the number of seats allocated to each State and Territory in the House of Representatives) and for distribution of government funds (Goods and Services Tax revenue) to each State and Territory.

The Census of Population and Housing is the only source of detailed statistics of the numbers and characteristics of the population and its housing within small geographic areas and for small population groups, covering the whole of Australia. This information supports the planning, administration, policy development and evaluation activities of government, business and others. The most recent Census was conducted in 2011 and first results were released on 21 June 2012.


    Online Products
    • Census of Population and Housing data can be accessed via a range of online tools found on the ABS website. These include products such as QuickStats and Community Profiles in which Census data are displayed based upon selected location and topic of interest, and can be viewed in different formats including thematic maps or tables
    • TableBuilder Basic: users can create their own tables on a range of topics such as age, education, housing, income, transport, religion, ethnicity, occupation and more. All Census geographies are available
    • Table Builder PRO: users can construct their own tables via an interactive web interface, using a database containing the Census Output Record File. A range of person, family and dwelling classifications is available for users to analyse and output can be made available in tabular, graphical or map based format.

    Other Products
    • The Census sample files are comprehensive 1% (Basic) and 5% (Expanded) Confidentialised Unit Record Files. These files contain Census characteristics for a random sample of respondents on a person, family, household and dwelling basis.
    • Census data packs containing Census of Population and Housing data, down to Statistical Area 1 (SA1) District level, and digital boundaries in generic format. These will be available for download from the ABS Website.
    • Socio-economic Indexes for Areas, contains indexes to allow ranking of regions/areas, providing a method of determining the level of social and economic well-being of that region.
    • A 5% Statistical Longitudinal Census Dataset which brings together data from the 2006 Census with data from the 2011 Census and future Censuses to build a picture of how society moves through various changes.

    Customised Data Services
    Where users’ specialised information needs cannot be met by standard products, customised data services are available through ABS Information Consultancy.


The main medium-term developments in the program are to:

  • publish second release results from the 2011 Census (following first release in June 2012) – due October 2012
  • commence re-engineering of Census enumeration model and building new infrastructure to support the change – due July 2012
  • commence public consultation on content and procedures of 2016 Census – due October 2012
  • develop a comprehensive register of addresses for use as part of the re-engineered Census enumeration model and to support sampling for ABS household surveys – due January 2014
  • as part of the new ABS 2017 Program Delivery Division, develop selected components of new standardised, integrated systems for collection, processing and dissemination of ABS data – due August 2014
  • conduct a major test of 2016 Census – due August 2014.

Program Managers
Andrew Henderson
Assistant Statistician
Census 2011

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