2008.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Nature and Content, Australia, 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/08/2015   
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From the 2001 Census onwards, the Census form has included an optional question asking whether each person in the household agrees to have their personally-identified information kept and securely held by the National Archives of Australia (NAA) for 99 years. This personally-identified Census information will not be available for any purpose (including to courts and tribunals) within the 99 year closed access period and cannot be accessed, altered or retrieved before that time.

After 99 years, the name-identified data will be made public for future generations. The first batch of such information, from the 2001 Census, will be publically available in 2100. Those accessing the information could include genealogists, historians, social analysts and other researchers in the 22nd century.

Unlike other questions, the Census Time Capsule question on the form does not relate to a specific Census Topic and is not listed in the Census Regulations, with other topics. Rather, the Census Time Capsule was made possible by an amendment to the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


The Time Capsule question is asked in relation to every person in the household. If only one person in a household wants to participate in the Census Time Capsule, then only that person's information will be kept. The person completing the form on behalf of the household should consult with each person in the household and accurately indicate the view of each person on the form. The person completing the form must also sign the paper form, or agree to a statement on the online form, to indicate that they have done so.

If a person answers 'Yes, agrees' in response to the question, and the form is signed, then their personally-identified information supplied on that Census form will be preserved by the NAA for 99 years before being made publically available. If a person answers 'No, does not agree', or does not answer the question, or the form is not signed, the information will not be preserved by the NAA.

Parents and guardians who complete the Census form on behalf of children can complete this question for them. For people who are legally unable to make a choice, their legal guardians can answer on their behalf.