The Census is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the ABS. The task is to reach out to everyone in Australia—regardless of where they are located, or their living circumstances, across the continent.
Across Australia, the scale of Census operations extends from the physical dimension—large distances, diverse climate, different terrain, to the people dimension—trust, cultural diversity, a common understanding of the purpose and value of the Census, and the other important factors like verifying the quality of the data captured, and looking after our Census staff.
In capturing a comprehensive and inclusive picture of Australians and Australian communities, over ten million households will be contacted by the ABS either by mail or by field officers.
Given the geography, distance, diversity of climate across such a vast country; six years of intensive planning and preparation is required.
Implementation of Census operations involves 38,000 temporary employees operating across every corner of Australia. We will have more than 20,000 Field Officers working across the country to help people complete their Census, including reminding them that their Census is due.
Field staff are estimated to complete a combined total of two million hours of work and will travel approximately 13 million kilometres in 2021, much of this will be on foot going from door-to-door.
Fifty per cent of Australia’s land mass will be covered by the Census remote team of 1,850 staff. For those living in remote Indigenous communities, the Census is conducted over an extended period between July and August. This is to facilitate Census remote teams to cover vast areas and visit multiple communities.
Census information hubs will also be available in around 400 locations across the country for the public to seek information about the Census or access a paper form.
During our peak period of Census operations, the Data Capture Centre will register over 100 forms a minute and process more than 500,000 forms in a day.
A successful Census requires us to plan for the diversity of people in Australia, including people with disability, people experiencing homelessness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Special processes are in place to count groups, such as people living in remote communities, and those in hospitals and hotels.
We will be providing support options for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or blind or with low vision, including resources in Auslan and the ability to order Braille and large print forms.
Census information will be translated to help Indigenous and multicultural communities to complete the Census. Information for people from a multicultural background will be available in up to 29 languages and there is a Telephone Interpreter Service.
This is achieved with the invaluable support from community organisations who help us identify the needs of diverse communities and assist us in planning our approach and sourcing engagement staff that can raise awareness about the Census to their members.
For this year’s Census, we’ve got the added dimension of having to be able to respond to the evolving COVID-19 situation.
We’ve undertaken extensive planning for how we engage with the community, and how we protect staff in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak and we’re well placed to respond.
Ultimately, the health and safety of our Census staff and members of the community throughout Census operations is our highest priority, particularly as we navigate through a pandemic environment.
Looking beyond the collection phase, data from the 2021 Census will be released in three phases—June and October 2022, and March 2023.
The ABS is working hard to ensure that we deliver a safe, secure, and successful 2021 Census and we’re looking forward to all Australian residents present on 10 August participating.