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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Submissions on topics recommended for retention in the November 2012 Consultation information paper

3.1 The 2012 ABS Consultation information paper, Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Content and Procedures, 2016 (cat. no. 2007.0) described the topics to be included in the 2016 Census under four categories: those recommended to be retained, those recommended to be reviewed, those recommended to be excluded and new topics to be considered for inclusion. These were the preliminary categories specified in the 2012 ABS Consultation information paper prior to public consultation.

3.2 Below is a summary of the key themes emerging from submissions received on topics recommended for retention. Please note that topics on which there were no submissions are not referred to in this paper. For references to the 2011 Census questions by topic, please see Appendix 1: 2011 Census Household Form questions in the Explanatory Notes of this publication.

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin
3.3 Five submissions were received on this topic and all supported retention of the topic in the 2016 Census. The submissions suggested additional questions be included about those people who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Submitters recommended:

  • including an explanation of why the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin question is being asked, in order to increase respondents’ understanding. The same submission went on to suggest including a question asking if respondents have identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in previous Censuses
  • expanding the question to include all three parts of the full three part Commonwealth definition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • collecting information on the tribal, language, cultural and/or geographical groups with whom Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are affiliated. It was also noted that further identification of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people by sub-population groups (e.g. clan) would provide cultural data for analysis and a secondary benefit would be better analysis of Indigenous mobility.

3.4 There was one submission received on this topic (it was submitted in the 2011 Census consultation and held over for consideration for the 2016 Census). This submission supported the retention of the question on date of birth as well as the question on age.

Attendance at an educational institution
3.5 Three submissions were received on this topic and all supported its retention. One submission proposed increasing the number of response categories as well as including additional questions and the other two submissions proposed adding response categories relating to schooling type.

3.6 The changes suggested in the submissions on this topic were to:
  • change and further break down categories under the tertiary institution heading to reflect the different range of tertiary institutions, for example, private training providers
  • add home-schooling as an option
  • expand the list of schools to include a broader range of school types
  • add questions on level and field of current study.
Country of birth
3.7 One submission was received on this topic and it suggested changing the topic to country of origin with the argument that country of birth can create a misleading interpretation of ethnic origin. It also suggested including a question to measure the length of time of residence in Australia (of people born elsewhere), for example 10 years or under, 10-50 years, more than 50 years.

Family relationship/Social marital status
3.8 Twelve submissions were received on this topic. Of the 12, five were submissions to the 2011 Census. They all supported retention of the question.

3.9 Eight of the submissions were about same-sex couples. Three of the submissions requested an additional tick box to include same-sex couples. The remaining five requested improving the question wording so that same-sex couples are aware that their relationship is counted and also requested better acknowledgement of same sex couples within Census questions and the output data which results.

3.10 Some of the submissions proposed amendments to the current question to enable easier recognition of relationships in the household. Suggestions made include:
  • improving the methods of family data collection and coding to better identify grandparent families (rather than a change to the question)
  • adding information about those couples 'living apart together'.

Highest year of schooling
3.11 Three submissions were received on this topic and all supported its retention. Some changes were suggested including:
  • the addition of 'home-education' as an option under the type of schooling question
  • an extra question to collect information about qualifications/training/experience of unemployed persons.

Hours worked
3.12 All of the six submissions received noted the benefit of collecting data on 'usual hours' worked, with most preferring this to ‘actual hours’ worked. The submissions recognised the advantages of collecting data on ‘usual hours’ which would:
  • provide a clearer view of hours worked by shift workers, part-time and seasonal workers and people who may have had the week previous away from work due to illness or carer's duties
  • provide information on usual circumstances and not be influenced by unusual circumstances
3.13 One submission preferred ‘actual hours’ worked, but suggested there could be a write-in field for both ‘actual’ and ‘usual hours’ worked.

Housing costs
3.14 Two submissions were received on this topic. One supported the retention of the topic and the other requested gathering information on steps taken by households to minimise water and energy use, re-cycle and re-use materials and whether incentives already allocated by governments have delivered results.

3.15 There were five submissions received on this topic and they all suggested changes to the income question. Three submissions would like to see it changed to accommodate writing in the income figure. Two submissions suggested changes be made to the bracketing of the amounts at the higher end of the income levels. Industry of employment
3.16 Eighteen submissions were received on this topic. Seventeen of the eighteen submissions requested that output data on industry of employment continue to be coded at the most detailed (four-digit) level. The remaining submission proposed that output data for persons employed in school education be categorised by sector.

Internal migration
3.17 Three submissions were received on this topic and all supported its retention with some potential changes suggested. The changes proposed were to:
  • add a question about the tenure type of the dwelling lived in one or five years previously
  • collect location, tenure and reason for move one, three, five and seven years ago.
3.18 One submission supported the ABS proposal to collect data on the person’s actual country of residence one and five years ago.

Labour force status
3.19 Three submissions were received and they all supported the retention of this topic. One submission suggested amending the question to collect information on the type of employment contract the person held, i.e. permanent, temporary or casual. One submission also recommended analysis of labour market outcomes in conjunction with education qualifications.

Main language other than English spoken at home
3.20 There were four submissions received on this topic. They all supported the retention of the topic and also requested changes to the question. One requested an additional language be included in the 'check box' option. Another submission requested changes to the wording of the question (that the word 'spoken' be changed to 'used' as the word 'spoken' creates some confusion). Two submissions also requested that all languages spoken by an individual be recorded.

Mode of travel to work
3.21 Eight submissions were received on this topic. The majority of the submissions requested a change to the question or the inclusion of additional questions. The main themes were to:
  • include questions on additional modes of transport
  • include additional questions about transport such as 'why a person used public transport?' and 'how does the person usually get to their current workplace?'
  • change the question to include travel for a range of purposes as well as for work
  • include a notation to capture data on travel between multiple workplaces.

Non-school qualifications
3.22 Four submissions were received on this topic and they all supported its retention. Modifications and expansions to the question were also suggested and additional questions were requested. The requests were to:
  • replace the question about pre-1998 qualifications with a new question about the person’s most recent training
  • modify the existing question about the person’s highest qualification to a question such as 'what is the most recent qualification the person has completed in the last five years?'
  • add a question which would capture data on the level and field of current study/qualification, country and year of highest qualification and field of employment.

3.23 There were 25 submissions received on this topic and all but one strongly supported the continuation of coding of occupation at the most detailed (six-digit) level. A number and a range of reasons were provided but it was commonly cited that Census is the only source of information at the six-digit level for output of occupation data. A small number of the submissions suggested changes to the underlying classification and one submission requested distinguishing between occupation and qualification in order to identify the potential workforce for certain occupations.

Proficiency in spoken English
3.24 The single submission received on this topic noted that the question on this topic is subjective. Registered marital status
3.25 There were three submissions received on this topic. Two of the three submissions supported retention of this topic and agreed it should be considered in conjunction with the output data available from questions on the family relationship/social marital status topic. One submission recommended excluding this topic and retaining only the topic of family relationship/social marital status, for the reason that the definition of registered marital status does not recognise some sections of the population.

Religious affiliation
3.26 This topic generated a great deal of interest with 444 submissions being received, mainly from individuals (approximately 96%). The issues raised in the submissions were very similar with most commenting that the current question wording assumes everybody has a religion. The main themes arising from the submissions were requests for:
  • the introduction of a filter question asking if the person has a religion with a 'YES/NO' response
  • the category of 'No religion' to be placed at the top of the list - otherwise in ranking order based on output data from the 2011 Census
  • revision of the question wording, incorporating new words such as ‘belief’ and ‘practising’
  • the inclusion of additional pick boxes for non-Christian religions
  • the review of examples of 'Other' in the accompanying notes.

3.27 All 13 submissions received on this topic supported its retention but suggested that additional information be collected. The main change proposed was the addition of further options to the question with most suggesting adding a third category of 'Intersex' or 'Other'. Some submissions also requested data be collected on sexual orientation and gender identity/diversity (i.e. transgender).

Structure of private dwelling
3.28 One submission was received on this topic. It supported retention of the topic and highlighted the importance of the dwelling related questions (i.e. type of non-private dwelling, location of private dwelling and residential status in a non-private dwelling). The submission also noted the need to continue collecting information on unoccupied dwellings. A related submission on this topic proposed collection of data on the age of dwellings.

Tenure type
3.29 One submission was received on this topic and while it supported retention of the topic, it also suggested amendments to enable identification of different tenure arrangements within a single household.

Type of non-private dwelling
3.30 Two submissions were received on this topic. One argued for changes to improve the enumeration of non-private dwellings especially in reference to aged care facilities. The other supported retention of the topic but proposed that the category of boarding houses be grouped and coded separately.

Usual residence at Census time
3.31 Five submissions were received on this topic and they covered a diverse range of issues. Submitters generally wanted additional questions added. They requested:
  • collecting and coding of country of usual residence data to improve estimation of the resident population
  • refining the question to include information on people who couch-hop, and/or car-sleep, etc
  • improving the enumeration of homeless people who are 'visitors to the household' by adding a question and changing the instructions on the form and on associated materials
  • adding a question to gain information about the reason for people visiting on Census night
  • adding a question about where a person spent the most number of nights in the preceding calendar year
  • adding a question to determine the person's permanent/temporary residency status.

Workplace address/Journey to work
3.33 Two submissions were received on this topic and they both requested additional questions. Submitters were generally interested in gathering information to identify fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) workers and to measure peak hour traffic through asking about the 'start time of trip to work'.