2026 Census topic review

Information about the 2026 Census topic review and public consultation process

Visit the ABS Consultation Hub to make a submission to the 2026 Census topic consultation. 

The 2026 Census topic review webinar is now available on the ABS YouTube channel


The Census of Population and Housing provides a snapshot of Australia. It shows how our nation changes over time, helps estimate our population and informs critical decisions that guide our future. The 2021 Census collected data on a range of topics. The next Census will take place in 2026.

A successful Census relies on strong community support. This support is achieved through collecting data of national importance while also ensuring the Census is easy to complete and not seen as being too intrusive.

The Australian Government determines what information is collected in the Census. Every Census, the ABS undertakes a review to inform our recommendation to the Government on the topics that could be included in the Census.

The review is undertaken to ensure information collected in the Census remains relevant as Australia changes and maintains strong support for the Census. 

The review of topics includes extensive public consultation, stakeholder engagement and testing. The ABS is currently in the public consultation phase.

2026 Census topic review timeline

This diagram shows the timeline of the 2026 Census topic review. Phase one of public consultation goes from 28 February 2023 to 28 April 2023. Phase two will go from June to July in 2023. In late 2023 consultation outcomes will be published. From late 2023 until 2024 proposed Census topics will be tested. In mid 2024 the ABS will recommend 2026 Census topics to the Australian Government. In late 2025 2026 Census topics will be finalised and published on the ABS website.

This diagram shows the timeline of the 2026 Census topic review. Phase one of public consultation will be open from 28 February 2023 to 28 April 2023. The ABS will ask about information needs not currently met by the ABS. Phase two consultation will open in June and close July 2023. During this phase the ABS will prioritise information needs. We will ask for feedback on proposed changes to Census topics.

In late 2023 consultation outcomes will be published and shared on the ABS website, including the Census topics progressing to testing. In late 2023 the ABS will begin testing proposed new Census topics and questions through focus groups, interviews and a large scale test.

In the middle of 2024, the ABS will recommend 2026 Census topics to the Australian Government for decision. In late 2025 changes to the Census will be tabled in Parliament. The final decision on topics will be published on the ABS website.

The ABS is undertaking a two-phase public consultation process to inform our recommendation on topics for the 2026 Census:

  • Phase one: 28 February – 28 April 2023 - understanding what information the public would like the ABS to collect on the Census. 
  • Phase two: June – July 2023 - consultation on topics being considered for inclusion, change or removal from the 2026 Census. This will consider public input from Phase one. 

In late 2023 the ABS will publish outcomes from the second phase of consultation, including the topics progressing to testing. Proposed new topics and questions will be tested using focus groups, cognitive interviews and a large-scale test.

In mid-2024, the ABS will make a recommendation to the Australian Government on the topics that could be included in the 2026 Census.

Following Government decision on topics for inclusion in the 2026 Census, Treasury will coordinate an amendment to the Census and Statistics Regulation 2016 to be tabled in both houses of the Australian Parliament.

Outcomes and topics to be included in the 2026 Census will be published on the ABS website in late 2025.

The Census is just one way that the ABS can meet the data needs of the Australian community. The ABS will review submissions to identify if other ABS surveys or administrative data could be used to meet the proposed data need.

How to participate

Phase one of the consultation is open from 28 February – 28 April 2023.

In this phase the ABS is seeking to understand what information is needed by the Australian community to inform important decisions.

Organisations and individuals can make submissions about information needs not currently captured by the ABS, through the ABS Consultation Hub.  

During phase one, the ABS will also review:

  • The six topics shortlisted for further consideration and testing in the 2021 Census, but not included on the form (these are gender identity, household and family relationships, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural identity, journey to education, smoking status and sexual orientation).
  • Correspondence received by the Australian Statistician and Ministers since the 2021 Census topic consultation process closed in June 2018.
  • Feedback and outcomes of recent ABS consultations and statistical standard reviews, including on Religion, ANZSCO and Family Standards.

You do not need to provide an additional submission if you have contacted the ABS, your local MP or the Australian Statistician since July 2018. An additional submission is also not required if you made a submission for the 2021 Census on one of the six shortlisted topics listed above. We do encourage you to provide a submission if you have additional evidence to explain why the information is needed.

You can start preparing submissions now by:

  • Gathering evidence on the need for the data to be collected and how it could be used to inform important decisions, for example service delivery in your community.
  • Assessing your information need against the 2026 Census topic assessment criteria
  • Connecting with other organisations to provide a consolidated submission to strengthen your evidence base.
  • Registering for the topic consultation webinar – 7 March 2023, 2:00pm - 3:00pm AEDT


Assessment criteria for topics in the Census

The ABS will consider requests for new or changed topics for the Census against a set of criteria. 2021 Census topics will also be reviewed against the same criteria. This process will identify if the topic should be recommended to the Australian Government for inclusion in the 2026 Census. These criteria have been informed by the United Nations Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses.

The first step in this process will be assessing the public value of collecting data on the topic. To do this we will collate the evidence provided in the submissions and then consider whether: 

1. The topic is of current national importance.

2. There is a need for data at the national level, and either the local level or for small population groups.

3. There is likely to be a continuing need for data on the topic following the Census.  

The ABS will further assess topics that rate strongly against the public value criteria. This assessment will help determine if the Census is the most appropriate way to provide data on the topic. The criteria are:

4. There are no other suitable alternative data sources or solutions that could meet the topic need.

5. Data on the topic can be collected efficiently.

6. A representative of the household would be willing and able to answer questions on the topic for each member of the household.

In addition to assessing the topics individually, the ABS will consider if the combination of topics will maintain a high level of public support for the Census. This includes the overall size and complexity of the Census form, and if collecting data on a topic will impact how the public answers questions on other topics.

See the detailed assessment criteria for our considerations for each criterion. 

Support to participate

A recording of the 2026 Census topic review webinar is available on the ABS YouTube channel.

The webinar provides an overview of the consultation process, assessment criteria and how to prepare a high-quality submission. 

An Easy Read Guide to the 2026 Census topic review process is available to support you to prepare your submission.

If you require further assistance to make a submission, please email us at census.content@abs.gov.au.


For information on confidentiality of submissions and personal information please read Privacy - Australian Bureau of Statistics - Consultation Hub.

Access the 2026 Census Topic Consultation Collection Notice for information on the collection and use of personal information as part of the public consultation phase of the 2026 Census topic review process.

Subscribe for updates

You can subscribe to receive updates about the 2026 Census topic consultation process at www.subscribe.abs.gov.au/2026Census.

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