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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This topic provides information about the birthplace of a person's father and mother. Data on ethnic or cultural origin is in high demand, and this information is particularly important in regards to population groups which are unable to be identified through the other Census questions relating to cultural diversity. Information gained from this question, together with the question on country of birth of person, allows the study of first generation and second generation Australian people.


A question on the country of birth of parents was first asked in 1921 and the data was used to investigate the extent of the relationship between the birthplace and race of persons born in Asia who were resident in Australia. A question on country of birth of parents was not asked again until 1971 and has been asked in all subsequent Australian Censuses. Until 2001 the question asked people to write in their parents' birthplaces. As the 2001 Census included a question on a person's ancestry, the country of birth of parents question response categories were changed to ask simply whether a person's parents were born in Australia or overseas rather than collect detail on the parents' overseas birthplaces.

An Ancestry Consultative Committee was established in June 2003 to review the questions on ancestry and country of birth of parents for the 2006 Census. The outcome was a recommendation that these questions be asked in a format similar to that used for the 2001 Census. These questions were asked in the same format for the 2011 Census.

For the 2016 Census, the questions on country of birth of parents have been amended to allow respondents to provide details of the country of birth of parents where it is not Australia, rather than having a generic 'overseas' category. This change is as a result of consultation with key users of the data during the 2016 Census topic review.


The following questions are from the paper 2016 Census Household Form.

Image: questions 14 and 15 from the paper 2016 Census Household Form.