2901.0 - Census Dictionary, 2006 (Reissue)  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/07/2007  Reissue
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Contents >> Short Definitions and Classifications - 2006 >> Religious Affiliation (RELP) - Characteristics 2006

Religious Affiliation

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Image of Question
Quality Statement


A question on religious denomination has been included in all Australian censuses, but answering this question has always been optional. The option not to answer this question is provided for in legislation. More Detailed Description

Image of Question

2006 Household Form - Question 19


Applicable to: All persons
  1. Buddhism
  2. Christianity
  3. Hinduism
  4. Islam
  5. Judaism
  6. Other Religions
  7. No Religion
Supplementary codes
0002 Religious belief, nfd
0003 Not defined
0004 New Age, so described
0005 Theism
&&&& Not stated
VVVV Overseas visitor

Total number of categories:
one digit level 7
two digit level 3
three digit level 30
four digit level 137

More Detailed Description
Quality Statement - Religious Affiliation (RELP)

There are many aspects which can affect the quality of Census data; the following information should be considered when viewing data on Religious Affiliation (RELP).

Most of the data (89.6%) is captured automatically from check box responses so the risk of processing error is minimal. The remainder, consisting mainly of written responses, were coded by an automatic reading and coding process (9.2%), and clerically (1.2%). A very small number were difficult to clerically code (0.4%) and more relaxed rules were used by coders. All coding is subject to sample checks to ensure an acceptable level of quality.

The non-response rate for 2006 was 11.2% compared with 9.8% for 2001. Part of this non-response is attributable to the 4.1% of persons in dwellings which were occupied on Census Night but did not return a completed form. Persons are imputed into these dwellings together with some demographic characteristics, however the values for Religious Affiliation (RELP) remain not stated. In 2001, 2.1% of persons were imputed into dwellings for which no form was received.

Religious Affiliation is an optional question which is likely to have some affect on the non-response rate.

Inadequately described responses (written responses unable to be coded) comprised 0.5% of the data, down from 0.6% in 2001.

In a small proportion of cases (testing has indicated that this is around 1%), respondents provided an incorrect number of responses (for RELP respondents are asked to only mark one response). In these cases responses are accepted in the order they appear on the form and the extra responses are rejected.

The ABS aims to produce high quality data from the Census. To achieve this, extensive effort is put into Census form design, collection procedures, and processing procedures.

There are four principal sources of error in Census data: respondent error, processing error, partial response and undercount. Quality management of the Census program aims to reduce error as much as possible, and to provide a measure of the remaining error to data users, to allow them to use the data in an informed way.

When completing their Census form, some people do not answer all the questions which apply to them. In these instances, a 'not stated' code is allocated during processing, with the exception of non-response to age, sex, marital status and place of usual residence. These variables are needed for population estimates, so they are imputed using other information on the Census form, as well as information from the previous Census.

The processing of information from Census forms is now mostly automated, using scanning, Intelligent Character Recognition and other automatic processes. Quality assurance procedures are used during Census processing to ensure processing errors are kept at an acceptable level. Sample checking is undertaken during coding operations, and corrections are made where necessary.

The Census form may be completed by one household member on behalf of others. Incorrect answers can be introduced to the Census form if the respondent does not understand the question or does not know the correct information about other household members. Many of these errors remain in the final data.

More detailed information on data quality is available in the 2006 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0), in the section titled Managing Census Quality.

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