2026 Census topic consultation submission guide

Information to help you prepare your submission for phase one of the 2026 Census topic consultation.

Phase one of the 2026 Census topic consultation has closed.

Thank you to everyone who made a submission. 

Outcomes from Phase one of the consultation will be shared in mid-2023. 

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

Preparing your submission

Phase one of the 2026 Census topic consultation is open from 28 February to 28 April 2023.

The purpose of phase one is to help the ABS understand what information is needed, but not currently collected.

Submissions can be made through the questionnaire on the ABS Consultation Hub. You will be able to include up to ten requests for the ABS to collect information within a submission.

For each information request within your submission you will be asked:

  1. To provide a brief summary of the information you would like the ABS to collect and produce statistics on.
  2. What topic the information most relates to.
  3. Why it is important that the ABS collect and produce this information.
  4. The purposes you will use the information for.
  5. The smallest area or geography you will use the information for.

A high-quality submission should include evidence of specific use cases or documentation that highlights the data need. For example: upload or reference policy documents that provide evidence of the data need. The evidence provided should address the 2026 Census topic assessment criteria.

One quality submission with a strong case for the ABS to collect the information will be considered more highly than several submissions with limited information on how, or why the data is used. We encourage you to connect with other organisations to provide a consolidated submission to strengthen your evidence base.

Support to participate

If you require assistance to make a submission to the 2026 Census topic consultation, please email us at census.content@abs.gov.au.

A word version of the questionnaire is available on the ABS Consultation Hub and can be submitted via email to census.content@abs.gov.au, or by post addressed to:

2026 Census Topic Consultation
Locked Bag 10
Belconnen ACT 2616

An Easy Read Guide to the 2026 Census topic review process is also available.

Consent to publish

The ABS will publish information about submissions received after the consultation closes.

There is an option for you to have sections of your submission published on the ABS Consultation Hub as part of this process. This means others can see your request to collect certain data in your own words.

You will be asked in your submission if you consent to the ABS publishing your response and your organisation(s) name(s) on the Consultation Hub.

We will only publish these sections of your submission where you provide your consent.
Your name and email address will not be published.

Collection of personal information

When completing your submission for the 2026 Census topic consultation, the ABS will collect the following personal information:

  • Contact name (optional)
  • Organisation (if applicable)
  • Email address
  • Your opinions on information needs (optional).

We collect personal information so we can contact you if we have follow-up questions and to notify you of the outcome of the process.

The 2026 Census Topic Consultation Collection Notice provides further information on the collection and use of your personal information during the 2026 Census Topic consultation process.

Review of shortlisted topics from the 2021 Census

As part of phase one, the ABS will re-assess the evidence provided during the 2021 Census public consultation process for the six topics shortlisted for further consideration, but not included in the 2021 Census. The topics are:

  • Gender identity
  • More contemporary descriptions of household and family relationships (including those with shared care of children)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural identity
  • Journey to education (including mode of transport, and name and address of educational institution)
  • Smoking status
  • Sexual orientation.

If you provided a submission on these topics in 2021 you do not need to make a new submission for 2026. You can choose to provide additional information, requests for new topics or changes to topics. You can provide this information through the ABS Consultation Hub.

Submissions to Statistical Standard Reviews and other ABS Consultations

The ABS is currently undertaking a review of the Australian Standard Classification of Religious Groups (ASCRG) and the Religious Affiliation Standard (RAS). A consultation process was undertaken at the end of 2022 regarding changing the Standard or Classification. You do not need to provide a submission regarding changing the topic of religion if you provided a submission during that consultation. Any proposed changes to the RAS will form part of phase two of the 2026 Census public consultation in June 2023.

The ABS is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). Please review the ANZSCO consultation timetable for their review process if you wish to make a submission to change the ANZSCO. The Census Program will feed any submissions received relating to ANZSCO to the relevant team.

Requests to retain existing topics in the 2026 Census

Phase one of the 2026 Census topic consultation is seeking submissions for information needs not currently captured by the Census or ABS statistical program. You do not need to put in a submission during phase one to retain a topic in the 2026 Census.

During phase two of public consultation (June 2023), the ABS will seek feedback on any proposed changes to an existing Census topic based on submissions received in phase one, or any plans to remove a Census topic or question.

We encourage you to subscribe for updates if you would like to be notified of the public consultation on proposed changes or removal of a topic.

The difference between a topic and the question(s) asked on the Census form

A Census topic is not the same as a question on the Census form. Multiple questions on a topic may need to be asked to address an information need.

For example, information for some topics such as need for assistance for core activities is captured using a range of questions in the Census:

  • Does the person ever need someone to help with, or be with them for, self-care activities?
  • Does the person ever need someone to help with, or be with them for, body movement activities?
  • Does the person ever need someone to help with, or be with them for, communication activities?
  • What are the reasons for the need for assistance or supervision?

Other topics, such as health, are captured using only one question in the Census:

  • Has the person been told by a doctor or nurse that they have any of these long-term health conditions?

We consider the number of questions we may need to ask to provide information on a topic when assessing against the following criteria:

  • Data on the topic can be collected efficiently.
  • A representative of the household would be willing and able to answer questions on the topic for each member of the household.
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