1001.0 - Annual Report - ABS Annual Report, 2001-02  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/10/2002   
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Contents >> Section 1 - Summary of Operations >> Chapter 1 - Executive Summary - The 2001 Census of Population and Housing

The five-yearly Census of Population and Housing, conducted on 7 August 2001, was the most successful Census undertaken by the ABS with first results released in June 2002 - under budget and one month ahead of schedule, the earliest Census results ever. Conducting the Census was a major logistical achievement with some 40,000 temporary staff employed and approximately 7.8 million households visited.

One of the contributing factors to the success of the 2001 Census was the development of a focused media campaign to increase public awareness of the Census and encourage participation. Evaluation of the campaign indicates that awareness of the Census and the ABS in general was considerably higher than in 1996.

The ABS census media campaign collected two Public Relations Institute of Australia awards in 2001-02. The annual awards recognise outstanding public relations practice and professionalism in both the public and private sectors. The ABS won a national Golden Target Award in the category of Multimedia Communications for the census communications project that centres on the CD-ROM, A Tale of Two Worlds, developed for Australian schools. The ABS was also highly commended in the Institute’s ACT Awards for Excellence in the Marketing Communications Category for the extensive bank of media resources developed for the public communication campaign for the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. A Tale of Two Worlds also won a national Australian Teachers of Media award in the multimedia category.

Australian Statistician Dennis Trewin at the launch of the first results, released in June 2002,
of the five-yearly 2001 Census of Population and Housing.

This Census was unique in a number of ways. The Centenary of Federation Time Capsule Project provided Australians with the option of having copies of their name-identified 2001 Census records stored by the National Archives of Australia for public release after 99 years. Over 50 per cent of Australians agreed to have their Census forms retained until the year 2100. The Census processing systems were streamlined using leading edge technology and for the first time intelligent character recognition was used to capture information from Census forms. A major aspect of the 2001 Census output strategy is the large amount of information available free of charge on the ABS web site. All Australians can access information about their statistical local area for free. Since launching the results on 17 June 2002, web access to Census data has been as high as 568,000 hits on the day of release, compared with around 71,000 hits normally. Additionally, as a result of ABS’s membership of the Interdepartmental Committee on Commonwealth Spatial Data Access and Pricing Policy, the ABS will provide low cost Australian Standard Geographical Classification boundaries on CD-ROM.

Launching the 2001 Census results, Mr Hugh Mackay, well known social commentator and analyst, praised the ABS as providing one of the world’s leading statistical services. Mr Mackay’s major observations related to Australia’s ageing population and shrinking household size. One hundred years ago 4 per cent of the population was over 65 years of age, compared to 13 per cent now. While in the past 30 years the average size of Australian households has fallen from 3.3 persons to 2.6 persons. In introducing Mr Mackay, the Australian Statistician acknowledged with gratitude the special effort of the Australian people to the success of the Census.

The Treasurer, the Hon. Peter Costello, MP, speaking in Parliament, also thanked the people of Australia for taking part in the Census, and observed that the ABS leads the world in relation to the collection of statistics. Mr Costello stated that the Census will provide the Government with the basis for the development of policy and long-term planning for the future of Australia.

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