2903.0 - How Australia Takes a Census, 1996  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/04/1996   
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Contents >> Introduction



Australia's thirteenth national Census of Population and Housing will be held on 6 August 1996. This publication has been prepared to provide current and potential users of census statistics with some basic information about the 1996 Census. It describes the history of the census, the process by which the 1996 Census was planned, the way in which it will be conducted and processed and the types of output which will be available.


The Census of Population and Housing is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Its objective is to measure the number and key characteristics of people in Australia on census night. This provides a reliable basis to estimate the population of each State, Territory and local government area primarily for electoral purposes and the distribution of government funds. The census also provides the characteristics of the Australian population and its housing for small areas and small population groups to support the planning, administration and policy development activities of governments, business and other users.

Population estimates based on the census are used to determine the number of seats allocated to each State and Territory in the House of Representatives. Population estimates were also used in the allocation of $19 billion in 199596 in Commonwealth grants to the State, Territory and local governments.


The census includes all people in Australia on census night, with some exceptions. Foreign diplomats and their families are excluded, as are foreign crew members on ships. Visitors to Australia are counted regardless of how long they have been in the country or how long they plan to stay. Australian residents out of the country on census night are generally not included in the census unless they have left the country without being required to undertake departure formalities (for example, naval personnel on board ships away from Australia).

The territories of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island will also be included in the 1996 Census. Following the enactment of the Territories Reform Act 1992, the results for these Territories will be included in the counts for Australia for the first time in 1996.

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