2007.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Topics, 2021  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/04/2018   
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The ABS is consulting to seek views on the information to be collected in the next Census and this topic brief provides detail about what has been previously included on housing.

The opportunity to participate in the consultation will be available from 3 April to 30 June 2018 via consult.abs.gov.au


Housing topics on the Census included:

  • type of tenure (nature of occupancy)
  • structure and types of dwellings
  • homelessness
  • housing costs
  • number of bedrooms
  • internet access.


Information collected in the Census about housing provides an indication of the number and types of homes around Australia. Questions are also asked about ownership and renting, and housing costs in terms of rent or mortgage payments.

This information helps inform planning for community housing, as well as provides insights to the extent of overcrowding in parts of Australia. This data can be used in conjunction with demographic information and other data sources to assist with planning for future housing needs.

Housing data, in conjunction with a person’s response of ‘none’ to the usual address question also contributes to estimating the number of people experiencing homelessness.

A question on access to the internet has been included on the Census since 2001, when planning internet access and online services was a key priority. However, the way that individuals access the internet continues to change rapidly, so this question may not be as useful as it was in the past.

Dwelling information aids in the development and maintenance of the ABS Address Register, which is critical to how the Census operation is conducted. This information is also used as a quality measure to ensure that everyone is included in the Census across Australia.

  • How many bedrooms are there in this dwelling?
  • Is this dwelling: owned outright, with a mortgage, being purchased, rented, etc.
  • If this dwelling is being rented, who is it rented from?
  • How much does your household pay for this dwelling?
  • Does any member of this household access the internet from this dwelling?

Further to these questions, the ABS collects information on occupancy, structure, location, and type of dwellings during Census preparation and operations. Additional processes and strategies are also applied to assist people experiencing homelessness to participate in the Census.


Questions about housing provide data on:
For more information view 2901.0 - Census Dictionary

Estimates of homelessness are based on responses to questions on usual residence, dwelling type, number of bedrooms, and various person and family characteristics.

Sources: 2071.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia - Stories from the Census, 2016

Infographic showing that, on average, 2.6 people lived in each Australian household.
Infographic showing that, on average, 2.6 people lived in each Australian household.

Infographic on changes in tenure type between 1991 and 2016 and dwelling structure in 2016.
Infographic on changes in tenure type between 1991 and 2016 and dwelling structure in 2016.


For details of how the ABS defines concepts related to housing and homelessness, please refer to the following papers:
1200.0.55.011 - Housing Variables, 2014
4922.0 - Information Paper - A Statistical Definition of Homelessness, 2012


The ABS has undertaken initial discussions and reviewed feedback from the 2016 Census in preparation for this consultation.

Feedback from stakeholders has indicated that housing is still a relevant and important topic to be included on the 2021 Census. However, we have heard that there is potential to expand the topic to better meet national data needs.

Discussions have suggested emerging themes may include:
  • improvements to the ‘no usual address’ options to better identify people experiencing homelessness
  • improvements to the landlord type answer categories to better capture public, government and community housing
  • remove the internet access question as the Census may not be the most appropriate source for this information.

This consultation is an opportunity for you to provide your views on what housing information should be collected on the 2021 Census.


The ABS collects data on housing through a number of different collections. Listed below is a selection of ABS publications as well as other sources. For the comprehensive list of ABS products, please visit the ABS website.

4130.0 - Housing Occupancy and Costs, 2015-16
This publication presents data from the Survey of Income and Housing 2015-16 on Australian housing occupancy and costs, and relates these to characteristics of occupants and dwellings such as: tenure, family composition of household, dwelling structure, age, income and principal source of income.

It also includes value of dwelling estimates and information on recent home buyers. This publication is released every two years in line with Survey of Income and Housing.

5609.0 - Housing Finance, Australia
This publication contains time series data for:
  • secured and unsecured housing finance commitments for owner occupation
  • commitments for construction or purchase of dwellings for rent or resale
  • loans outstanding to individuals/households for housing.

8153.0 - Internet Activity, Australia, December 2016
This bi annual release contains details of internet activity supplied by Internet Service Providers in Australia with more than 1,000 subscribers. It includes information on internet subscribers by type of connection, volume of data downloaded and advertised speed of the internet.

8146.0 Household Use of Information Technology, Australia
This publication contains information on household internet access and persons internet use. It includes information on the number or households and people with internet access, types of devices used by households to access the internet, reasons for accessing the internet and internet purchases. The 2016-17 release of this publication will be the final issue.

8166.0 - Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business, 2015-16
This annual release presents key indicators on the use of information technology and innovation in Australian business, as collected by the 2015-16 Business Characteristics Survey.

8129.0 - Business Use of Information Technology, 2015-16
This two yearly release presents key indicators on the use of information technology and related practices by Australian businesses, as collected in the 2015-16 Business Characteristics Survey.


NBN Wholesale Market Indictors Report
This report provides a count of the number of services in operation, including technology used, geography and speed.

NBN Half-Year Report for the six months ended 31 December 2017
This report covers the operations of NBN Co for the half-year ending December 2017. Information is included on the number of premises ready for service, number of premises ready to connect and number of premises activated by type of connection, as well as reporting on progress towards the 2020 goal.

The ACMA Communications Report 2016-17
This report covers the performance of carriers and carriage service providers, including consumer satisfaction, consumer benefits and quality of service.


6503.0 – Household Expenditure Survey and Survey of Income and Housing, User Guide, Australia, 2015-16
This user guide contains details about the combined cycle of Survey of Income and Housing and the Household Expenditure Survey conducted in 2015-16. It includes information about the purpose of the survey, the concepts and contents, and the methods and procedures used to collect the data and derive the estimates.

6553.0 - Survey of Income and Housing, User Guide, Australia, 2013-14
This user guide contains details about the non-HES cycle of the Survey of Income and Housing conducted in 2013-14. It includes information about the purpose of the survey, the concepts and contents, and the methods and procedures used to collect the data and derive the estimates.

2049.0.55.001 - Information Paper - Methodology for Estimating Homelessness from the Census of Population and Housing, 2012
This information paper presents the ABS' methodology for estimating the prevalence of homelessness from the Census of Population and Housing. This methodology was developed in consultation with the ABS' Homelessness Statistics Reference Group and builds on the review the ABS conducted on the development of official estimates of homelessness. The ABS' statistical definition of homelessness underpins this methodology. More information on the definition can be found in 4922.0 Information Paper: A Statistical Definition of Homelessness.

2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia, 2016
This publication provides information to help people use and interpret 2016 Census data. The article 'Comparing the average number of persons per bedroom over time' includes additional information on specific concepts relevant to the topics outlined in this brief.

What are your housing needs? Share your views with us on the most useful information we should collect in the 2021 Census. Make your submission to our review of 2021 Census topics at the ABS Consultation Hub.

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