2007.0.55.001 - Census of Population and Housing: Topic Directions, 2021  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/11/2018   
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CULTURAL DIVERSITY

Further information from the public consultation phase can be found here: Cultural diversity, Religion


TopicsProposed actions

Australian citizenship Retain existing topic without change.
Country of birth Retain existing topic without change.
Year of arrival in Australia Retain existing topic without change.
Country of birth of parents Retain existing topic, with minor change to be tested (review for gender neutral language).
Main language other than English spoken at homeRetain existing topic, with minor change to be tested regarding the capture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages (also see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples theme).
Other languages spoken (NEW)Limited case for new topic. Will not be further explored.
Proficiency in spoken English Retain existing topic without change.
Ancestry Retain existing topic, with minor change to be tested regarding the capture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestry (also see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples theme).
Religious affiliation Retain existing topic without change.


Submissions indicated that cultural diversity remains a relevant and important topic. Specifically, submissions supported most cultural diversity topics on the Census to remain without change but noted opportunities for minor changes on some topics to better understand new and emerging priorities.


COUNTRY OF BIRTH OF PARENTS

Some submissions requested removal of ‘mother’ or ‘father’ from the country of birth of parents question to be more inclusive of non-traditional family structures.

Feedback from key stakeholders indicated there is a data need for the collection of gender (mother and father). The ABS will test options to provide more guidance through instructions to accommodate non-traditional family structures, while still identifying the gender of parents in questions where required.


MAIN LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH SPOKEN AT HOME

Representatives of the deaf community have suggested the wording of this question needs to be updated to reflect that people who communicate in sign language use rather than speak that language. Testing of the impact of wording changes will occur.

As noted under the theme of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, there will be further review and testing of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are captured and whether there are ways to encourage more detailed responses for this topic.

Some submissions suggested expanding the concept of the current 'main language other than English spoken at home' to capture other languages used and proficiency in all languages. A core use of the current topic is to identify needs for translation services, language assistance and English language programs for individuals without proficiency in English. While other language proficiency would provide valuable information on the diversity in Australia, it has not been assessed as a priority over the current ‘main language other than English spoken at home’.


ANCESTRY

Some submissions suggested that taking a different approach to the collection of data on ethnicity would be a better indicator of cultural inclusion and participation than ancestry. There were also a number of suggestions indicating that the ABS should collect information on 'race'. The importance of the existing ancestry topic was emphasised by data users, and it is unlikely that any change to this concept will occur in the 2021 Census.

Submissions however noted a need to improve the question on ancestry for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The ABS will consult and investigate changes to this question to improve the relevance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION

The current Census question collects information on religious affiliation rather than religious involvement.

Some submissions suggested that a question on religious involvement would give a better picture of how actively people participate in their religious activities. However, collecting information on religious affiliation is consistent with international Census practice and is better aligned with planning for services delivered by religious organisations such as education, health and aged care. The ABS will continue to collect information on religious affiliation in the Census.

Some submissions challenged the way in which the religious groups or denominations are presented in the question and commented on the structure of the Australian Standard Classification of Religious Groups, 2016 (cat. no. 1266.0).

The order of the response options will be reviewed in the lead up to the 2021 Census based on analysis of the 2016 data. Feedback on the standard and the associated classification will be considered as part of an upcoming review.