2902.0 - Census Update (Newsletter), May 2005  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/05/2005   
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Enhancing the National Population Census

The ABS has released a Discussion Paper entitled 'Enhancing the Population Census: Developing a Longitudinal View'. The paper seeks the views of Australians on a proposal to enhance the value of 2006 Census of Population and Housing data by combining it over time with data from other censuses, and using it with a limited number of additional datasets.

The central feature of the proposal is the creation of a Statistical Longitudinal Census Dataset (SLCD) – this involves combining the information provided in the 2006 population census, with information provided in other censuses, using statistical techniques. Other parts of the proposal outline using the census data in combination with other selected data sets, such as ABS household surveys and birth and death register data. The proposal is described in more detail in the discussion paper available on the ABS web site www.abs.gov.au.

In its present form the Census only provides a 'snapshot' about Australian people and households once every five years. The SLCD would provide the means to identify patterns of change in social and economic circumstances, for individuals and households over time. Insights might be gained into the relationship between peoples' social and economic situation over their life; their health outcomes; or the educational or economic outcomes of their children as they in turn grow to be adults.

The proposal does not involve the ABS keeping name and address information from the Census. The ABS will continue to provide the same level of protection for the confidentiality of people's information as it has done for the past 100 years of its history.

No decision on this proposal has been made. Integral to the ABS decision on whether to proceed will be the level of community support. The paper calls for members of the public and other interested parties to submit their views on the proposal for ABS consideration.

Those wishing to provide feedback can lodge a submission on-line through the web site, or on a paper form. To request a copy of the discussion paper or submission form, email client.services@abs.gov.au or call 1300 135 070.

The closing date for submissions is 10 June 2005. At the conclusion of the submission period, all the submissions will be carefully considered and the proposal will be reviewed in the light of the feedback received. An in-principle decision on whether to proceed will be made in late June 2005. We will not proceed unless there is broad community support.