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: Transport

TopicsProposed actions

Mode of travel to work Retain existing topic without change.
Name and address of workplace attended Retain existing topic without change.
Mode of travel to educational institution (NEW)Moderate case for new topic. Questions will be developed for testing and operational feasibility assessed.
Name and address of educational institution (NEW)Moderate case for new topic. Questions will be developed for testing and operational feasibility assessed.
Number of motor vehicles garaged Remove existing topic.

Information about where people work and how they get to work helps inform policy and planning of road infrastructure and public transport. Submissions supported the importance of transport topics, with these topics receiving strong interest through the process.

Ideas included expanding the reasons for travel beyond work, reporting the time to travel to work, and adding or enhancing the modes of travel, with specific interest in recording the use of motor cycles as a mode of travel. The Census topic currently collects the use of motorcycles and motor scooters as an option for travel to work. However, as the proportion of people selecting this category is relatively low, it is not always displayed in published Census output tables and graphics.

Some submissions identified the limitation of the ‘walked only’ transport category and suggested that people may walk in combination with other modes of transport and they should be able to report this. This has been previously tested but it is difficult to clearly distinguish between a significant walk and shorter walks (e.g. from a car park to public transport). The current question and ‘walked only’ category focuses on instances where walking is the primary method of travel and will be retained.


Some submissions suggested including journey to education (combining mode of travel and name and address of institution) to complement the data collected for journey to work. It was noted that travel for education makes up a significant portion of the reasons for travel during peak hours and combined with journey to work data would provide an improved understanding of traffic flows and transport patterns in towns and cities. Details of the educational institution attended for students would also provide information to improve the quality of data collected on the type of educational institution attended.

Early investigations raised concerns about the burden on respondents to recall another address (educational institution). Journey to education may also generate complex responses for tertiary students with irregular study schedules, and parents dropping off school students on multi destination journeys.

Processing data for journey to work is complex. Introducing new topics for journey to education may add significant cost, which needs to be understood and assessed.

Testing will seek to explore options for the collection of this topic, the potential for impact on the current journey to work topic, and the potential costs incurred to collect, process and present data on this topic.


Previous discussions over the past two Census cycles have noted the declining requirement for data on the number of motor vehicles garaged, given that administrative data sources may provide this information.

Some submissions supported retaining this topic and expanding it to include motor cycles. However, administrative data, including state and territory vehicle registrations by location, have been assessed as appropriate alternatives to collecting this data through the Census. It is unlikely that ABS will recommend to Government that this topic remain on the 2021 Census.

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