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: Location

TopicsProposed actions

Address on Census night Retain existing topic without change.
Usual residence at Census timeRetain existing topic, with minor change to be tested to provide clearer guidance for temporary visitors without a usual address.
Internal migration 1 year (address one year ago)Retain existing topic, with minor change to be tested as per usual residence.
Internal migration 5 years (address five years ago)Retain existing topic, with minor change to be tested as per usual residence.
Second residence and/or ownership of other dwelling (NEW)Limited case for new topic. Will not be further explored.
Address of workplace attendedRetain existing topic without change (see Transport theme).


Questions about usual residence and past residences are critical for population estimates and projections. To acknowledge circumstances where an individual may not have a usual address currently (or one and five years ago), instructions are provided asking them to write ‘none’ rather than an address. Responses to these questions are valuable for deriving estimates of ‘couch surfing’ (those people staying temporarily in other households without a usual residence).

Stakeholders interested in data on homelessness requested improvements in the identification of couch surfing by enabling respondents to select the option of ‘no usual address’. As questions on addresses are critical for population data, changes will only be considered with a view of the potential impact on quality of population estimates. Options to improve estimates of couch surfing will be explored, including improved guidance on the Census form relating to these topics. Any options will be further discussed with stakeholders.


Some submissions indicated that information on second residence would be helpful in planning with particular relevance for:

Coastal towns, towns at or near resource industry activity, and rural and remote areas where population numbers are small, and part time or seasonal residents may impact housing affordability and infrastructure needs.
Remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities where short term mobility impacts on service provision and access.

This topic was extensively researched and tested in the lead up to the 2016 Census, and found to be difficult for respondents to understand. The topic also introduced cost and complexity in processing additional addresses. Initial assessment has determined that these challenges still exist and that it would be very difficult to collect data of sufficient quality. Therefore, this topic is not considered suitable for collection in the 2021 Census.

Related to the use of second residences, questions were also raised around understanding complex family structures including children in shared custody arrangements. This topic is addressed in more detail under the Households and families theme.

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