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: Housing

TopicsProposed actions

Number of bedroomsRetain existing topic without change.
Type of tenure (including ownership and rental) Retain existing topic, with minor change to be tested regarding affordable housing and social housing.
Landlord type for rented dwellings Retain existing topic, with minor change to be tested regarding affordable rentals and renting of community or social housing.
Housing costs Retain existing topic without change.
Other private dwelling information (including structure, type, location and residential status)Retain existing topic without change.
Other non-private dwelling information (including name, address, type, number of persons resident and their residential status)Retain existing topic without change.
Measures of homelessnessMinor change to be tested to content to improve estimates of homelessness.
Internet access Remove existing topic. Limited case for additional topics regarding internet use and access. Will not be further explored.

The consultation process confirmed that housing topics remain important to be collected in the Census. Submissions offered suggestions to amend questions to develop a better understanding of home ownership such as changes in tenure, length of time at current dwelling and future intentions for housing. Many of these topics were considered too complex to explore in detail in the Census. However, minor changes to topics on social housing, affordable housing support and measures of homelessness will be explored further.


Submissions supported a need to measure the number and growth of housing purchased under affordable housing schemes or rented through affordable rental programs. There were also suggestions to improve the accuracy of information on the prevalence of different types of social housing (i.e. public and community housing). These suggestions will be reviewed regarding broader housing standards, and the existing questions on tenure and landlord type will be tested to determine what additional detail may be possible to collect through the Census.


While homelessness itself is not a characteristic that is directly collected in the Census, estimates of the homeless population may be derived from the Census using analytical techniques based on both the characteristics observed in the Census and assumptions about the way people respond to Census questions. Key stakeholders provided feedback that they would like to see improvement in capture of ‘couch surfing’ (staying temporarily in other households without a usual residence), family homelessness, and transitions to and from homelessness. Stakeholders also noted requirements to better understand homelessness for vulnerable population groups like Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and/or Intersex (LGBTI) individuals and veterans.

Each of these data needs will require consideration against a range of current topics (including tenure/landlord type, usual address, address one and five years ago) and potential new topics (including gender identity, sexual orientation and Australian Defence Force service). Where these topics are being reviewed, they will be done in consultation with stakeholders and with consideration of these additional data needs.


The current Census question asks whether any member of the household accesses the internet from the dwelling. Submissions suggested that with the growth in internet access on mobile and other devices and the fast pace of technological change, the collection of data on household internet access has less relevance.

A number of suggestions were made to replace this topic with another individual internet access and use-based question, including measures of digital inclusion and digital literacy. While these topics are considered important in understanding the impact on disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in the population, they are considered too complex to be collected in the Census.

It is unlikely that ABS will recommend to Government that this topic remain on the 2021 Census.

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