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 location.

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


Location based topics on the Census included:

  • address on Census night
  • usual residence
  • internal migration (address 1 year ago)
  • internal migration (address 5 years ago)
  • workplace address for the main job held the week before Census night.


The Census provides the most accurate, if not the only, source of consistent information for small geographic areas and small population groups across the country. Information about addresses is used to provide a count of people living and working in particular areas.

The information about the number and types of people (for example, families and elderly people) is important to inform future planning and delivery of services to address local community needs.

The information on where people work is considered in planning for emergency response and improvement of infrastructure, such as roads for commuters.

The geographic movement of people between Censuses helps governments, businesses and communities determine and plan for future growth in different areas, particularly as almost half of Australians changed their address in the five years between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses.

  • Where does the person usually live?
  • What is the address of this dwelling?
  • Where did the person usually live one year ago?
  • Where did the person usually live five years ago?
  • For the main job held last week, what was the person’s workplace address?


The Census does not release any information related to specific addresses of individuals and individuals cannot be identified from the Census data.

Census data can provide information on the number of people within a geographic area based on address on Census night, place of usual residence and place of work.

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

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

Infographic showing the number of people who lived in each state and territory
Infographic showing the number of people who lived in each state and territory in 2016.


The geographic standard used by the ABS to classify statistics relating to location is the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). For more detail on how the Census applies the geography standard, refer to Census Geography Basics.


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

Feedback from stakeholders has indicated that location is still an integral part of the 2021 Census.

The ABS is working to improve the way addresses are provided, validated and coded at Census time. This will improve the quality of the location information and result in more meaningful Census products and data.

However, we understand that there is interest in expanding the information we collect or make greater use of the existing information to better meet national data needs.

The suggestion of collecting country of usual residence for address one and five years ago, rather than stating overseas has been raised by multiple stakeholders, and would align with international standards.

The need to gain an understanding of service populations including short and long stay tourists and those with holiday homes as well as Fly-in fly-out/Drive-in drive-out workers has continued to be raised. Similar issues have also been raised around understanding the location of complex family structures; including children in custody arrangements. However, challenges exist in collecting this data as respondents may be required to enter multiple addresses.

Discussions have also covered how combining Census with other data sources can provide new measures and insights. An example of this is the measure of Commuting Distance from the combination of a road dataset with Usual Residence and Place of Work locations.

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


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

3412.0 - Migration, Australia, 2015-16
This publication presents annual regional internal migration estimates based on the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). Datasets included in this product provide summaries of migration data for the years ending 30 June 2007 to 2016, and include data by migration type (arrivals, departures and net moves) broken down by age, sex, and various sub-state geographies.

3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics
This publication includes the latest quarterly and annual updates on interstate migration, and is released every three months. Datasets in this publication include total interstate arrivals and departures for each state and territory, and interstate estimates by state of arrival and state of departure, including time series.


1389.0 - Usual Residence Concepts Sources and Methods Paper, Jan 2004
This paper details the two concepts of Usual Residence used in the ABS, it explains why two concepts are necessary, when and how the concepts are used, the effect of using the two concepts and describes the method in which the two concepts are used. The two Usual Residence concepts are Usual Residence in a Dwelling (UR1) and Usual Residence in a Household or Family Home (UR2).

6105.0 - Australian Labour Market Statistics, July 2013 - FLY-IN FLY-OUT (FIFO) WORKERS
This product contains annual supplementary measures of labour underutilisation and employment type, as well as analyses of contemporary labour market issues and information about the latest developments in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) labour statistics program. One issue discussed in more detail is the FIFO phenomenon (circumstances of work where the place of work is sufficiently isolated from the worker's place of residence to make daily commute impractical). It discusses how these workers are reflected in the Australian population and where they are identified in various survey collections.

Fact sheets - Internal migration
Internal migration is the movement of people from one defined area to another within a country. Information on internal migration within Australia is available from the Census and is discussed in this paper.

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 'Place of Enumeration vs Place of Usual Residence' includes additional information on specific concepts relevant to the topics outlined in this brief.

What are your Location 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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