2008.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Nature and Content, Australia, 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/08/2015   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All


This topic records the structure of private dwellings (that is, whether the dwelling is a separate house; semi-detached house; apartment or flat; or other less common structure). Information gathered from this question is used to determine changes in levels of housing stock and patterns of use, including changes in housing density. It also assists in urban and neighbourhood design; transport planning; land use forecasting; and in the compilation of homeless estimates.


A question on this topic has been included in every Australian Census since 1911. In 1961, the response option Caravan was included for the first time and since 1986 residents of caravans in caravan parks have been enumerated on household forms.

Up to the 2011 Census details on dwelling structure have been recorded by Census Field Officers when they delivered the Census form. This method resulted in a marginal increase in collection costs but required no response by the public. For the 2006 and 2011 Censuses, this question was included in the Collector Record Book rather than on the back of the household form.

For the 2016 Census, data on this topic will be collected during field work by ABS Address Canvassing Officers in the lead-up to the Census, as part of establishing the Address Register as a mail-out frame for designated areas. In areas enumerated using the traditional (non mail-out) approach, the topic will be collected by ABS Field Officers during the 2016 Census enumeration period. Private dwelling structure data will also be updated as required by ABS Field Officers during the 2016 Census enumeration period.

For the 2016 Census, there will be a change to one of the response categories for this question. The previous category of Caravan, cabin or houseboat will be separated into two categories: 'Caravan' and 'Cabin or houseboat' which will facilitate more accurate identification of people who are marginally housed in caravans.


Dwelling structure information is collected by ABS Address Canvassing Officers or Census Field Officers.

The following information is collected:

      • Separate house (one or more levels)
      Semi-detached house, row/terrace or townhouse
      • 1 level
      • 2 or more levels
      Flat, unit or apartment
      • In a 1 or 2 level building
      • In a 3 level building
      • In a 4 or more level building
      • Attached to a house
      • Caravan
      • Cabin or houseboat
      • Improvised dwelling, tent, sleep out
      • Dwelling attached to a non-residential building e.g. attached to a shop, church, school, factory etc.