2940.0.55.002 - Information Paper: Measuring Overcount and Undercount in the 2016 Population Census, Jul 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/07/2016  First Issue
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Various strategies have been devised for the enumeration of the PES. Where possible, standard ABS survey procedures are used when enumerating private dwellings and Discrete Communities. However, these procedures are modified where necessary in Discrete Communities to take account of language and cultural issues. While question wording and collection methodology may be modified in some cases, attempts will be made to ensure underlying concepts remain the same across both components of the sample.


Specially trained PES interviewers will collect data through interviews, starting around seven weeks after Census night. All private dwellings will be enumerated using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI). Interviews will be conducted with any responsible adult of the household who will be asked to respond on behalf of all household members. Most interviews will be conducted face-to-face, however respondents will have the option to register instead for a telephone interview, using instructions on a Primary Approach Letter (PAL) delivered by mail to the selected dwellings approximately one week before the start of interviewing. The introduction of telephone interviewing will improve the effectiveness of enumerating the large 2016 PES sample in a short time frame, as well as giving respondents greater choice and convenience.

The wording of the identification question for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the PES survey will be the same as that used in 2011.

In each Census there are always dwellings for which Census forms have not been returned within the required timeframe. For this reason, intensive Census follow-up procedures are employed at the end of Census collection. To allow sufficient time for Census follow-up and to minimise potential overlap, 2016 PES enumeration will begin in late September, just after the end of the Census follow up phase, and will continue until late October.


In Discrete Communities, the primary collection method will be a customised questionnaire using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI). The PES will be conducted by specially trained ABS staff with the assistance of facilitators recruited from within the community. The facilitator's role is to assist in establishing rapport with respondents, to assist the interviewer in identifying residents of the selected households, and to interpret where necessary.

To strengthen the independence of the Census and the PES, efforts will be made to recruit facilitators who were not involved as Census interviewers. Where this is not possible, Census interviewers will only act as PES facilitators at dwellings where they did not interview during the Census. If there is no option but to use a facilitator who conducted a Census interview at the same dwelling, the PES interviewer will ask the facilitator to introduce the interviewer to the household, but otherwise to take no part in the interview. Alternatively, where acceptable to the community, the PES interviewer may enumerate dwellings without the assistance of a facilitator.

Census enumeration in Discrete Communities will take place between late July and early September, and PES enumeration will take place as soon as practicable after. To avoid any overlap, PES enumeration will only begin in these communities once it has been established that all Census field activities have been completed. As a result, PES enumeration of the Discrete Communities sample will be staggered, to align with the completion of Census field operations in each of the communities. PES enumeration in some communities may start as early as August, and all communities in the sample will be completed by late October.


A risk to the independence of the Census and the PES as some people may be prompted to return their Census forms following receipt of the PES primary approach letter or the arrival of the PES interviewer. Any Census form received after the receipt of the Primary Approach Letter will be flagged as a 'late return'. The treatment of late returns is explained in the Estimation section of this paper.

The independence of the Census and the PES will also be strengthened by strategies designed to minimise the overlap of Census collectors and PES interviewers. These include:

  • interviewers wanting to apply for District Manager or Area Supervisor positions in the Census must preclude themselves from the interviewer panel for the PES;
  • PES interviewers may also work as Census collectors but they must enumerate a different area;
  • any person who has worked in an area of Census processing related to dwelling or population counts may not also work on PES processing; and
  • any person who has been involved in Census field collection in any capacity may not also work on PES processing.