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Go to the 2021 Census website


Media background information on key Census topics.

2021 Census topics


On 16 November 2020, the ABS published the 2021 Census topics and data release schedule.

The publication outlines what information will be collected in the 2021 Census and when, what and how the data will be released.

We conducted extensive public and stakeholder consultation to finalise the Census topics for 2021.

We have introduced new questions in the 2021 Census; the first significant changes to questions collected in the Census since 2006.

Changes to existing questions have also been made to ensure the Census continues to be relevant to the community.

These include a non-binary option to the sex question and improved collection of language and ancestry data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

New questions

The 2021 Census will contain new questions on long-term health conditions and service with the Australian Defence Force.

The changes allow the Census to collect data on long-term health conditions, such as heart disease, arthritis and diabetes, to inform health policy and planning for community services.

Collecting information about Australian Defence Force service will provide a better understanding of the circumstances of Australia’s veteran community and support better provision of services for this group.

The addition of these two new questions will enhance the value of the 2021 Census to the Australian community.

Information on long-term health conditions will inform preventive health programs and funding for local services, and assist decision making for health authorities, researchers, policy makers, communicators and educators.

The inclusion of the Australian Defence Force service topic will provide a better understanding of the circumstances of Australia’s veteran community.

Removal of internet question

Our extensive consultation on Census topics determined that the question on home internet access did not provide a contemporary reflection of today’s society with the increase in mobile internet usage on personal devices outside of the home.

2021 Census data release

The ABS will release data from the 2021 Census in three phases:

  • in June 2022, key demographic, cultural diversity and health data will be released.
  • in October 2022, employment, educational qualifications and internal migration data will be released
  • in early to mid-2023, complex data such as distance to work, socio-economic indexes for areas (SEIFA) and counts for people experiencing homelessness will be released.

More detailed information about the plans for 2021 Census data products will be released in early 2022.

All information collected in the Census is confidential, and no identifiable information can be released

The 2021 Census topics and data release plan is published on the ABS website.

Statistics from the 2021 Census will be released in the same core products as previous Censuses, including through QuickStats, Community Profiles, TableBuilder and DataPacks & GeoPackages.

Independent assurance panel for 2021 Census data

The ABS will establish a 2021 Census Statistical Independent Assurance Panel. The 2021 Panel will independently assure the 2021 Census data and publicly release a report on their findings.

This initiative follows the establishment of the 2016 Census Independent Assurance Panel. The 2016 Panel published their findings in the Report on the Quality of 2016 Census data, which is available on the ABS website. The 2016 Panel recommended that the ABS continue the practice of an Independent Assurance Panel reviewing the quality of the Census data to provide greater transparency and accountability.

Providing customer support and assistance


We’re working closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to make sure people who live in remote communities can take part and be counted. Locally recruited Census staff will be helping people in remote communities complete the Census. They will do face to face interviews.

Information for people from a culturally and linguistically diverse background is available in 29 languages. We will also run fill-in-the form sessions to help people who don’t speak English.

People experiencing homelessness will have help from one of our Census staff.

Census forms are available in Braille and large print for people with a vision impairment. An easy read guide will be available on our website, and information available in Auslan.

We will have pop up hubs in areas where we know that more people need assistance.

Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

For people living in a remote community, Census field staff will be in communities during July and August to help people to complete the Census via face-to-face interview.

The Census is used to plan for community needs. Having the right numbers means the right services can be provided, for example knowing the number of babies in a region can help plan funding for preschools or health programs.

Census data is also used to make decisions about schools and early learning, health clinics, aged care, jobs, better roads, language centres and community programs.

When completing the Census, it's important to include everyone staying in the household, such as Elders, babies and visitors.

Engaging culturally and linguistically diverse communities

Some members of migrant communities can find it difficult to complete the Census. This can be for a variety of reasons including facing language barriers or the Census being a new concept for some of our newest arrivals.

We do our very best to make it as easy as possible for all people in Australia to complete the Census. 

Some of the things we have in place to help culturally and linguistically diverse communities include:

  • fill-in-the-form sessions (including in-language) around the country to provide face-to-face support to complete the Census
  • supporting organisations across Australia, such as Migrant Resource Centres and Community Hubs, with material to help community members to understand and complete the Census
  • providing information in a range of languages on our website
  • offering Census lesson plans to organisations around the country that teach English to migrants. These lesson plans detail what the Census is, why it's important and where to get help to complete the Census
  • hiring field staff who speak additional languages and reflect the diversity of the communities they'll be working in
  • encouraging people to call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) for in-language support to have questions answered or to find where to get help locally.

People experiencing homelessness

The Census provides the only national estimate of the prevalence of homelessness. There were 116,427 people (or 0.5 per cent of the Australian population) who were homeless on Census night in 2016.

The ABS engages with service providers who have direct contact with people experiencing homelessness to promote the Census to the homeless population they support. A successful count is contingent on the support of the homelessness services sector, including providing intelligence for regions of high homelessness, and nominating individuals with the appropriate knowledge, experience and networks to fill Census field roles.

Census data has significant impacts on funding for homeless services and programs including emergency shelters, social and affordable housing and community support programs. Homeless estimates are used by governments, research and community for policy, research and service delivery purposes.

Census jobs


We are currently recruiting 38,000 temporary positions to fill a range of diverse roles across Australia in all major cities, towns and regional areas to successfully deliver the 2021 Census.

These positions range from field officers and engagement managers to data processing. Some are a few months, and others are up to 10 months.

Previous experience isn’t necessary for many of our roles. We’re looking for motivated people who are available to work variable hours including weekdays, weekends and evenings.

To find out more, visit www.census.abs.gov.au.

Positions available include:

  • Census Engagement Manager
  • Census Operations Manager
  • Remote Area Management Teams
  • Local Engagement Officer
  • Community Field Officer
  • Field Manager
  • Field Officer
  • Data Operations.

The ABS has appointed The Adecco Group to assist with the recruitment of staff.

The Adecco Group is responsible for attracting staff in capital cities and major regional areas. The ABS is working with local people and communities to recruit in rural and remote areas.

We are also looking for people who can speak a language other than English as part of the job, and people with experience working with diverse population groups including:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • People with a disability
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Older Australians
  • Youth.

Field officer recruitment

We are recruiting 20,000 (to be exact 19,791) Field Officers in cities, towns and regional areas across all states and territories to help deliver the 2021 Census.

Field Officers are a crucial workforce that will help people throughout Australia to participate in the 2021 Census. This includes:

  • delivering Census instructions and forms and visiting households that have not yet responded
  • promoting Census participation and answering peoples’ questions
  • helping members of the public who need special support to complete the Census.


State breakdown      Field Manager         Field Officer             Total

         NSW                        800                         6,010                  6,810

          VIC                         679                         5,060                   5,739

         QLD                         550                        4,057                   4,607

          SA                          199                         1,423                   1,622

          WA                         288                         2,160                  2,448

          NT                            29                           210                     239

         TAS                            83                           589                     672

         ACT                           38                           282                     320 


What is the process for applying for the roles?

The process starts with applicants completing the online form at www.census.abs.gov.au/careers.

It takes approximately 15 minutes to apply.

Candidates will be shortlisted and complete phone or video interviews.

What are the pay rates, terms and conditions?

All pay rates are inclusive of a loading of 20 and 25 per cent respectively depending on the role. This is in lieu of paid leave and payment for public holidays where the employee is not rostered to work and applies to the hourly rate.

All roles are temporary, short-term contract roles with variable working hours including weekdays, weekends and evenings.

Conducting a Census during COVID-19

COVID-19 contingencies

We’re constantly monitoring health and government advice regarding the changing COVID-19 pandemic to ensure our safety measures are current and best practice.

We’ve undertaken extensive planning about how we engage with the community, and how we protect staff, in the changing pandemic environment.

The safety of the community and our staff has, and always will be, the ABS' number one priority.

Following health and government advice, we have adjusted our plans and procedures to ensure that we can operate successfully in a COVID safe environment during the 2021 Census. The preparations and tests of our procedures provided valuable insights and informed our planning. There are clear alternative procedures in place. We can quickly adjust our collection methods in geographic areas, if required given the changing nature of the pandemic.

The 2021 Census is more important than ever following the impacts of COVID-19 on the living and working arrangements of Australians. This Census will be the first major data insight showing the impacts of COVID across the Australian population.