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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Further information from the public consultation phase can be found here: Other topics

TopicsProposed actions

Chronic health conditions (NEW)Strong case for new topic. Will discuss with key stakeholders to confirm concepts and health conditions to be included and test performance of questions through cognitive testing.
Smoking status (NEW)Moderate case for new topic. Will discuss with key stakeholders to confirm concepts to be included. Questions will be tested.
Other health related topics (NEW)No further action. No strong case presented and/or data can be obtained through current national health surveys.

Currently, there are no questions regarding health asked in the Census, but for some years health topics have been of interest to stakeholders.


There was strong support through consultations and from submissions outlining a need for data on the health status of Australians, with particular interest in being able to analyse data on chronic health conditions against geographic and socio-economic variables.

Stakeholders supported the inclusion of a new chronic health conditions topic (this term was used interchangeably with ‘long term health conditions’). Further engagement with stakeholders and testing will refine data needs and identify the health conditions that could be included in a Census question.


Some submissions presented a case for collecting data on the smoking status of individuals, noting that smoking continues to be one of the biggest risk factors contributing to ill health in Australia, and the proportion of smokers is significantly higher in some population cohorts.

Further testing will explore options to collect data on current and previous smoking behaviours. This will include testing questions similar to those used in the New Zealand Census and from the ABS’ National Health Survey, which has a comprehensive module on smoking behaviours.

While there was interest in both health topics (chronic health conditions and smoking status), many submissions gave higher priority to including a chronic health conditions topic over a topic on smoking status. Stakeholders noted the greater value that a chronic health conditions topic would provide for service planning. This preference will be a factor in determining the recommendations for the final list of Census topics.


Other submissions proposed that data be collected on a number of health related topics and indicators including: weight; body mass index; amount of physical activity; nutrition; allergies; access to and use of health services; veganism; and swimming ability. These suggestions were not supported by strong evidence in the submissions, and often relevant information is collected through a number of ABS health surveys. These suggestions will not be explored further for inclusion in the 2021 Census.

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