The first Census was undertaken in 1911. Before every Census the ABS has reviewed procedures and topics to ensure that the Census delivers high quality, timely and relevant information that Australia needs.
Reviewing topics is a fundamental part of planning for each Census. Some topics have been included in every Census, creating a valuable time series of critical information. However, the number and range of topics has changed over time to reflect contemporary views and emerging needs, with topics being included or excluded depending on relevance and importance at the time. With the increasing availability of administrative data, the possibility of using information from alternative sources is also considered in determining Census topics.
For both the 2011 Census and 2016 Census there was no change in the list of topics. In effect, topics have not changed since the 2006 Census.
In preparation for the 2021 Census topic review, the ABS considered the recommendations from the 2016 consultation process. Discussions were held with various government agencies and non-government Census data users to identify emerging data needs. The data needs identified were used as the basis for the discussion on topics during the consultation. These emerging data needs were outlined in a publication released at the beginning of the consultation (cat. no. 2007.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Topics, 2021).