2011.0 - Information Paper: Census of Population and Housing -- Proposed Products and Services, 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/10/2015  Ceased
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The Census is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the ABS and one of the most important, providing information for small geographic areas and for small population groups as well as for the country as a whole. The value of the Census lies not only in the information collected, but also in the opportunities it presents in enabling the production of analytical indexes, estimates of homelessness and data integration.


Census data becomes an even more valuable resource when it is combined with other information to provide more comprehensive insights about Australian households. Since 2006, the ABS has enhanced the value of Census data through integrating unit record data with other ABS and non-ABS datasets to create new datasets for statistical and research purposes.

Previous integration initiatives have successfully demonstrated that linking Census data with other datasets can be used to develop new datasets (including longitudinal datasets) and to improve the quality of key estimates derived from administrative sources as well as replacing the need to direct collect certain information from individuals. New insights have been derived from the creation of the following initiatives:

These initiatives have contributed to a richer statistical view of Australian society and an improved evidence base for decision making for the community, researchers and policy makers, in a cost effective way.

Data integration will continue to be a central element of the 2016 Census and is an increasingly important element of the broader ABS work program. The ABS has methodological and technological expertise to undertake data integration projects, a strong legislative basis to ensure the protection of sensitive personal information and a high level of community trust to underpin its activities as an accredited integrating authority.


People who are experiencing homelessness are among the most marginalised people in Australia. Homelessness is one of the most potent examples of disadvantage in the community, and one of the most important markers of social exclusion. A successful Census of Population and Housing is one that counts everyone in Australia on Census night, no matter where they are staying or sleeping. While homelessness itself is not a characteristic that is directly collected in the Census, estimates of the homeless population may be derived from the Census using analytical techniques based on both the characteristics observed in the Census and assumptions about the way people may respond to Census questions. The estimates of people experiencing homelessness, derived from Census data and based on the ABS definition of homelessness, may have significant impacts on funding for services and programs and will provide insights into the living conditions of the homeless.

The ABS definition of homelessness adopted for the 2011 and 2016 Censuses is based on the categories, or ‘operational groups’, outlined in Information Paper - A Statistical Definition of Homelessness, 2012 (cat. no. 4922.0). This approach will enable comparison with 2001, 2006 and 2011 estimates of homelessness. The definition is also used for a number of ABS collections enabling the compilation of robust and transparent homelessness statistics across a range of ABS datasets.

ABS proposes to release the 2016 Census estimates of homelessness in an update to the publication, Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness, 2011 (cat. no. 2049.0).


Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) seek to summarise the socio-economic conditions of an area using relevant information from the Census of Population and Housing. The SEIFA indexes are widely used measures of relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage at the Statistical Area Level (SA1) level. SEIFA uses a broad definition of relative socio-economic disadvantage in terms of people's access to material and social resources, and their ability to participate in society. SEIFA can be used for research into the relationship between socio-economic status and various health and educational outcomes. It helps identify areas that require funding and services; and identify new business opportunities.

Further information is available in Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia, 2011 (cat. no. 2033.0.55.001).

SEIFA based on 2016 Census data will be released in 2018, and will be available free-of-charge on the ABS website.