2903.0 - How Australia Takes a Census, 1996  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/04/1996   
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The ABS has designed a range of products and services from the 1996 Census to meet the objective of providing users of statistics with the information they want. This has involved consultation with current clients and potential new users of census data, as well as drawing on the results of research commissioned in 1994 to study the outcomes of the 1991 Census output program.

The broad results of the 1996 Census will be available, as in the past, in a variety of formats including printed publications, floppy disk, cartridge, magnetic tape and CD-ROM. Some information is also available via on-line services such as the Internet. Emphasis will be placed on providing a timely and responsive customer service.


To meet user requirements for more timely census data, there will be a two-staged release of the data. The first release will contain a wide range of topics and be available for all geographic areas by July 1997. The remaining data, which require extensive coding, will be released progressively thereafter, with all data available by March 1998.


Census counts will be released on two different bases: place of enumeration; and place of usual residence.
Census counts at place of enumeration are based on each person's actual location on census night. Overseas visitors are included while Australians overseas are excluded. Census counts will be provided on this basis for individual collection districts (CDs), any geographic areas which can be formed by combining CDs, and postcode areas.


Population estimates (estimated resident population) are derived by making two adjustments to the usual residence census counts. The first is an adjustment for census undercounting as measured by the Post Enumeration Survey (see the chapter on Quality). This adjustment is made to the counts of males and females by age for Australia, States/Territories and at the SLA level. The second adjustment is the addition of estimates of Australian residents temporarily overseas on census night. This adjustment is also made by age at SLA level.


Census products will be available in the form of printed publications, microfiche, magnetic tape and floppy or compact disk, and some via on-line services such as the Internet. Customised products can be in the form of hardcopy, microfiche, magnetic tape or floppy disk.

Printed publications

Printed publications will be used to disseminate both the broad results and many of the detailed statistics from the 1996 Census. Statistical publications planned include the following:

Australian Demographic Statistics, 1996 Census Edition, December Quarter 1996 (3101.0);
Regional Population Estimates, 1996 Census Edition, June 1991 and June 1996;
Selected Characteristics of People and Dwellings, 1996 Census First Release Data SLAs;Summary information from this publication is available on this site

Selected Characteristics of People and Dwellings, 1996 Census First Release Data Urban Centres and Localities;
Selected Characteristics of People and Dwellings, 1996 Census Second Release Data SLAs;
Australia in Profile: A Regional Analysis; and
Social Atlases (for each capital city).

A number of reference publications will enable clients to understand what the census data and various geographical codes mean. These include The 1996 Census Dictionary (2901.0).

Customised matrixes

Clients will be able to order and specify their 1996 Census customised matrixes (cross-classified tables), in advance of the release of census data. In this way the ABS will be in a position to produce the matrixes soon after final data become available.

Some of the 1996 Census products expected to generate the widest interest among users are outlined below.

Community profiles

A group of products known as Community Profiles will be available for the 1996 Census. Each Community Profile is a set of tables containing key census characteristics of people, families and dwellings covering most topics on the census form. The most popular of the series will be the Basic Community Profile which will contain around 30 tables covering the full range of census topics. The Basic Community Profile is available at all geographic levels from collection district to Australia as a whole. Other profiles in the series include the Expanded Community Profile, Working Population, Time Series and Usual Residence Profiles. These are available at SLA level and aggregations of SLA.

As well as community profiles for standard areas, clients are able to specify their own combination of census geographic areas and particular tables from the profile data base to obtain a community profile customised to their needs.

There will be a series of profiles featuring the characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which will be available for geographic areas of interest to indigenous communities and other users of census data.

The ABS will also develop special profiles (called Thematics) from the 1996 Census for population groups such as older people, youth, families and ethnic groups. It is expected that these will be available at the geographic levels of postcode areas, SLAs and aggregates of SLAs.

All profiles will be available on most output media, according to the preference of the client and may be printed on demand at all ABS Client Services locations.


CDATA96 is a CD-ROM product which will contain the Basic Community and Time Series Profiles, ABS statistical boundaries and basic topographic information. As an option, clients will be able to purchase detailed topographic data. Data manipulation and basic desktop mapping software will also be provided so that clients can access, interrogate and map the census data. Clients will also be able to import other census and ABS data as well as their own data and map these alongside the census data.


Hard copy maps will be available to assist clients in understanding the geographic context of census data. The condensed maps will contain collection district boundaries and sufficient topographic detail for clients to understand the geography underlying the data. Field collection maps will also be available.
Digital boundary files will be available for all standard geographic areas and in most common industry formats.

Detailed digital topographic data will be available under arrangements to be negotiated with the Public Sector Mapping Agencies.


A key part of the free access strategy for the census is the implementation of the Library Extension Program (LEP) which provides census publications and census statistics in a CD-ROM product, CLIB, to the National Library, university libraries and a wide network of State and public libraries. There are currently 560 libraries spread across Australia in the LEP.

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