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 potential new topics in November 2012 Consultation information paper

6.1 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.

6.2 Below is a summary of the key themes emerging from submissions received on potential new topics. Please note that topics on which there were no submissions are not referred to in this paper.

Educational institution address/Journey to education
6.3 In its 2012 Consultation information paper, the ABS noted that this topic has been identified as a measure of addressing data needs relevant to transport planning, local infrastructure investment purposes and and education planning. The ABS sought justification for the inclusion of this topic in the 2016 Census.

6.4 Twenty one submissions were received on this topic and of these, the vast majority supported the inclusion of the educational institution address/journey to education topic. Some of the submissions addressed both sub-topics while others commented on only one. There was also a request to include a question to identify the name of the educational institution. It was apparent that users of transport information were interested in this topic to complement the existing journey to work topic while users of education information were interested in this topic in order to understand the characteristics of students at individual educational institutions.

6.5 A few of the submissions raised conceptual and quality issues in measuring this topic, urging the ABS to carefully consider the purpose of this topic as the Census might not be the most appropriate vehicle for the collection of this data. Some suggested additional questions to collect additional transport data. These included information on start time of trip, place of origin of the journey and purposes for travel other than work or education.

Long-term health conditions
6.6 The 2012 ABS Consultation information paper noted that there is strong demand for detailed knowledge of the location of people with certain long-term health conditions, particularly at the small area level. The ABS sought justification for the inclusion of this topic in the 2016 Census.

6.7 Twenty eight submissions were received on this topic with 26 submissions in support of its inclusion in the 2016 Census and the remaining two suggesting the collection of other health information. The submissions provided information on the potential uses of this data and its importance for reporting and analysis. There were several suggestions about the possible wording and content of the question, with some suggesting relatively minor changes to the list of long-term health conditions and most proposing that the question focus on whether or not the person had been told by a doctor or nurse that they had the condition. Some of the submissions also mentioned the importance of retaining the need for assistance topic to be used in conjunction with this topic.

Mode of travel to educational institution
6.8 The 2012 ABS Consultation information paper noted demand for information about mode of travel to educational institution, in conjunction with data on journey and mode of travel to work. The ABS sought justification for the inclusion of this topic in the 2016 Census.

6.9 All nine submissions received supported the inclusion of this topic noting that it will complement the proposed new topic of educational institution address/journey to education. It was mentioned that this data will provide a better understanding of the relationship between travel to work and travel to education and assist in planning around public education sites and traffic management around school zones.

6.10 Most submissions suggested journey to work categories could be re-used. One submission was interested in a distinction between dedicated school buses and regular public transport buses. A couple of submissions also suggested collecting information on this topic on a 10-yearly cycle.

Second residence/Ownership of other dwelling
6.11 In its 2012 Consultation information paper the ABS noted that there is growing user interest in data about second residence, particularly in relation to: people who regularly stay in a second residence due to work commitments; children in shared custody arrangements who have an alternate usual residence from the one they stayed in on Census night; and students who regularly stay in a second residence due to educational requirements. It further noted that collection of information on this proposed new topic may enable improved estimation of the numbers of temporary residents located in communities and could be used in the estimation of service populations. This, in turn, would facilitate more accurate planning for services in these locations. The ABS therefore sought feedback for suitability, relevance and priority of this topic for its inclusion in the 2016 Census.

6.12 Twenty nine submissions were received and all of them supported the inclusion of this new topic in the 2016 Census. Suggestions were provided on a wide range of potential information which might be considered under this topic. They include:
  • better counts of second residences for popular holiday destination areas to allow better provision of infrastructure and services for these populations
  • information on second residence as people may access state government services from more than one residence
  • information on residents’ locations (or possible holiday location) in time of natural disasters
  • information that will clarify the use of housing stock within Australia for planning and service delivery
  • more data on labour mobility across the country
  • information on the number of people who work away from home and live in another residence
  • information on the proportion of parents who travel for work purposes
  • information on children living in multiple dwellings
  • information that will allow a greater understanding of the use of services and infrastructure in mining communities.
Sources of income
6.13 The 2012 ABS Consultation information paper noted interest in identifying all sources of income that people receive, such as government pensions and allowances, investment income and wages. The ABS therefore asked for feedback on the justification for the inclusion of this topic in the 2016 Census.

6.14 All ten submissions received supported including a question on this topic. The sources of income which submitters would like collected include government pensions, allowances, superannuation, investment income and wages. There were also a variety of reasons provided for collection of data on this topic. They included:
  • providing indicators of relative advantage and disadvantage for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community
  • better identification of government benefit recipients
  • providing social analysis of gender differences (e.g, recipients of government payments) of males and females in regional, rural and remote areas
  • better data on small population groups, self funded retirees, superannuation and the low income population in Australia.
Other topics
6.15 In addition to the proposed new topics described in the 2012 ABS Consultation information paper, a number of submissions proposed additional new topics. Overall, 49 submissions were received on a range of topics with some topics receiving multiple submissions. Brief summaries of the topics with multiple submissions are provided below. For the single submissions, a list of the suggested topics is also provided.
  • Defence force indicator - Cases were presented by four submitters who wanted to identify members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the ex-service community, including dependants. Several submitters suggested potential questions to capture this information. The questions proposed included asking whether a person is a member of or has been a member of the ADF; and whether they receive certain government benefits or support.
  • Homelessness - These submissions were generally about improving variables used for homelessness estimates and also improving homelessness enumeration.
  • Pet ownership, desexed status, companion animals - Six submissions (with supporting statements) were put forward on this topic. Submitters generally expressed the need to determine the absolute size of the Australian owned dog and cat population for a variety of reasons such as to enumerate desexed status, to plan for alignment of pet ownership and the ageing population, and to determine companion animal population especially for older people or people with disabilities.
  • Sexual Orientation - Seven out of the eight submissions received requested that the Census include a question asking whether the person identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Some of these submissions also commented on gender identification/intersex issues. One submission wanted the Census to ask about opinions on same sex marriage.
  • Telephone ownership - Three submissions proposed collecting information on telephone ownership.
  • Visa - One submission was received however there were other related submissions on this topic that suggested adding a question/expanding an existing question to collect visa status.

6.16 Proposed new topics with single submissions include:
  • Age of dwelling stock/age of private dwellings
  • Childhood Institutionalisation
  • Cultural identification
  • Food habits
  • Happiness measure
  • Health practitioner visits
  • Household preparedness for natural disaster
  • Indigenous industry
  • International migration
  • Level of current study
  • Participation in sport by people with disability
  • Preschool programs
  • Reason for visiting
  • Secondary activity beside main activity
  • Social capital and community safety
  • Social inclusion
  • Superannuation
  • Sustainable lifestyles
  • Time started at work
  • Transport disadvantage
  • Vegetarianism
  • Water usage and conservation
  • Workplace training
Other submissions
6.17 The other submissions category contains submissions that commented on a range of Census procedures, with 21 submissions received. The submissions relate to geography, Census procedures and Census output and have been grouped accordingly.

6.18 In terms of geography related submissions, submitters requested or commented on:
  • the need for more accuracy in output data for small areas
  • the apparent inequity between boundaries and groups as per the population density
  • the use of post office boxes and identification of postcodes
  • the inclusion of Medicare boundaries in geographical classifications
  • drainage divisions classification for TableBuilder, an online tool used by clients to create tables, maps and graphs with Census data.

6.19 In relation to Census procedures, submitters asked the ABS to:
  • consider Census collection procedures applicable to specific population groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Fly-In-Fly-Out (FIFO) workers, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, homeless people and data quality improvements which may affect users of longitudinal datasets
  • support Regional Engagement Officers' roles in assisting with counts
  • use privacy envelopes
  • provide better assistance to respondents with little or no English
  • improve collection procedures for special interest groups which appear to be under-counted
  • improve the confidentiality of information collected
  • include a question on the Census form where people could suggest questions
  • improve Census response quality via migrant group community education.

6.20 Output related submissions generally requested improvements to release procedures such as:
  • the ability to link Census data to administrative births data
  • the classification of overseas workers
  • output of 'reason for absence'
  • public availability of submissions received during the consultation period.