Census

Every stat tells a story.

Requirement to participate

You may be fined if you refuse to complete the Census after receiving a Notice of Direction or submit an incomplete form.

Census night was on Tuesday 10 August 2021.

The Census is compulsory. It is conducted under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (the Act). This Act, which is a law, gives the Australian Statistician the authority to request you to complete the Census form.

You can be fined if you refuse to complete the Census or submit an incomplete form.

The Census includes everyone in Australia, Norfolk Island, the Territories of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island. This includes international visitors and students.

You did not need to complete the Census if you were overseas on Census night.

Everyone who was staying in your household on Census night should have been included on a form. This includes visitors and babies.

How are people fined?

The ABS always asks for willing cooperation, however, if you refuse to participate in the Census, the Australian Statistician can direct you to complete a form through a formal written notice. This notice is made under the authority of the Act. The notice explains that if you don’t complete the Census, you can be prosecuted and fined up to $222 a day.

If you continue to refuse after being directed by the Australian Statistician, you may be fined and receive a criminal conviction.

If you knowingly give the ABS false or misleading statements you can be fined an amount of 10 penalty units ($2,220 as at July 2020, s. 4AA, Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)).

The ABS is given the authority to collect, hold and use personal information for Census and statistical purposes as legislated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 and the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

Further detail is available in the  2021 Census of Population and Housing Australian Privacy Principle 5 Census Data Collection Notice.