2007.0.55.001 - Census of Population and Housing: Submissions Report, 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/09/2013  First Issue
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1.1 The Census of Population and Housing is the largest and one of the most important statistical collections undertaken by the ABS. It accurately measures the number and key characteristics of the people in Australia on Census night and dwellings in which they live. It also provides timely, high quality and relevant data for small geographic areas and small population groups, to complement the rich but broad level data provided by ABS surveys. Information from the Census is used for a range of purposes, including supporting the planning, administration, policy development and evaluation of activities of governments and other users.

1.2 One of the key directions of the 2016 Census of Population and Housing is to optimise the relevance, quality and suitability of topics for the 2016 Census. It was therefore a high priority to undertake a review of current and proposed topics for the 2016 Census to ensure their relevance in contemporary Australia. Following an internal review, an information paper: Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Content and Procedures, 2016 (cat. no. 2007.0) outlining initial topic recommendations was released in November 2012. Census data users and members of the public were invited to make a submission (between 6 November 2012 and 31 May 2013) addressing topics and/or other issues concerning the 2016 Census.


1.3 This paper presents a summary of the key themes which emerged from the submissions received by the ABS on the content and procedures proposed for the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. It also provides a brief overview of the assessment process to determine 2016 Census content as well as the public consultation and submission process.

1.4 Following the assessment of all submissions (including the submissions received as part of the 2011 Census consultation process), final recommendations on the nature and content of the 2016 Census will be discussed with the Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC) in November 2013 and May 2014.

1.5 This paper does not include any final decisions about Census topics. The final decision on topics for inclusion in the 2016 Census of Population and Housing rests with the Australian Government. The recommendations on the nature and content of the 2016 Census will be published by the ABS in an information paper (cat. no. 2008.0) expected to be released in late 2014, following Government decision and approval.

Overview of the assessment process to determine 2016 Census content

1.6 The ABS strategy for the 2016 Census is to ensure the relevance of the Census without increasing respondent burden and costs associated with a longer questionnaire. A review of all topics will thus enable incorporation of appropriate new and revised topics to meet emerging needs, while addressing the decreasing need for any current topics which are lower in priority. It is also expected that some topics may be removed from the 2016 Census and others may be asked on a 10-yearly cycle instead of the five-yearly cycle.

1.7 The ABS has been using the following set of criteria to finalise recommendations. These criteria were also used to make the initial topic recommendations and judge the suitability of the topics for a Census and are as follows:
  • The topic is of national importance.
  • There is a current need for data on the topic for small population groups and/or at the small area level.
  • There are no other suitable alternative data sources available for the topic.
  • The topic is suitable for inclusion in the Census.
  • There is likely to be a continuing need for data on the topic in the following Census.

1.8 The ABS may also consider other factors when making recommendations. These include international trends, lessons learned from previous Censuses, the results of internal and external consultation, changes resulting from classification and standards reviews, real world and legislative changes, questionnaire design and cost constraints.

1.9 The ABS has an extensive testing program for the Census which includes cognitive testing of questions, development and testing of field and processing systems, and planning of products for output of the data to meet the identified needs of users.

Overview of public consultation and submission process

1.10 From census to census, users have expressed a strong desire to maintain stability and continuity in the content, so that major trends can be measured over time. At the same time, the ABS recognises that changes to the census content and/or topics are necessary to maintain its relevance and mirror current society.

1.11 Consultation with users is an integral part of the content determination process. Engaging with users is important to the development of census questionnaires and allows the ABS to:
  • better understand and respond to social and economic changes in the Australian society
  • gauge reaction to proposed topic changes
  • bring about creative solutions inspired by data users and experts.

1.12 The 2016 Census public consultation process began in November 2012 with the release of the publication Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Content and Procedures, 2016 (cat. no. 2007.0) which outlined initial ABS recommendations.

1.13 During the public consultation period, individuals and organisations were invited to make submissions on the nature and content of the 2016 Census. Most of the submissions received were via the online form with others received via emails and hard copy paper form. The submissions were evaluated against the Census assessment criteria (see paragraph 1.7) to feed into the ABS's recommendations on 2016 Census topics and consideration by relevant bodies.

1.14 The key dates for the external topic consultation process are:

Release of Consultation information paper (cat. no. 2007.0)
6 Nov 2012
Public consultation on topics
Nov 2012 - May 2013
ABS assessment of submissions and topics
June 2013 - April 2014
Release of Submissions report information paper (cat. no. 2007.0.55.001)
September 2013
Advice from Australian Statistics
Advisory Council
Nov 2013, May 2014
Government decision on topics for the 2016 Census
Oct 2014 (estimated)
Release of Nature and Content information paper (cat. no. 2008.0)
Nov 2014 (estimated)

Privacy disclaimer

1.15 The 2016 Census Submissions process was conducted from November 2012 to May 2013 for the purpose of initiating public consultation regarding the nature and content of the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. The submission process was a voluntary collection which was not conducted under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

1.16 As part of the 2016 Census Submissions process the ABS collected personal information on a voluntary basis, to ensure that submissions were legitimate and to contact submitters to let them know that their submissions were received.

1.17 The ABS will not, due to its strict adherence to the Privacy Act 1988 and associated national privacy guidelines, release any individual submissions received as a part of the Census submissions process. The ABS will release a summary of the submissions to the 2016 Census; however no personal or identifiable information will be disclosed.

1.18 For more information about the release of submissions to the 2016 Census, or to discuss concerns regarding the privacy of personal information provided to the ABS please email 2016census@abs.gov.au or telephone the ABS National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.