Dwelling type indicator for persons (DWIP)

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Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period


This variable indicates whether a person was enumerated in a private or a non-private dwelling. It is included in the microdata products as a way of allowing users to more easily distinguish between those people enumerated in private dwellings and those enumerated in non-private dwellings without having to link to the household file.

A dwelling is a structure which is intended to have people live in it, that is it was established for short-stay or long-stay accommodation.


All persons enumerated within an occupied private or non-private dwelling.

As this is a person indicator, unoccupied private dwellings are out of scope.


1Enumerated in an occupied private dwelling
2Enumerated in a non-private dwelling
3Enumerated in other dwellings

Number of categories: 3

Category definitions

Enumerated in an occupied private dwelling:

An ‘Occupied’ private dwelling is a private dwelling occupied by one or more people on Census Night. Most often this is a separate house, townhouse, apartment or flat. It can also be an occupied caravan, cabin, tent or boat. The structure of a dwelling can be identified by using the variable Dwelling Structure (STRD).

People staying in an Occupied private dwelling on Census Night are provided an online or paper Household form to complete. Household forms collect information about the people staying in the dwelling, their household family structure, and their housing (e.g. number of people and rooms).

The variable Dwelling Location (DLOD) can be used to identify occupied private dwellings within the following establishments:

  • marinas
  • manufactured home estates
  • self-contained retirement villages
  • caravan/residential parks
  • camping grounds

Enumerated in a non-private dwelling (NPD):

Enumerated in a non-private dwelling (NPD):

NPDs provide a communal or transitory type of accommodation. These are more likely to be short-stay accommodation and are only counted if occupied on Census Night. NPDs include the following:

  • hotels and motels
  • guest houses
  • prisons
  • religious and charitable institutions
  • boarding schools
  • defence establishments
  • hospitals
  • other communal dwellings

People in NPDs on Census Night are provided an individual Personal form to complete. Personal forms collect information about the person and their residential status within the establishment, but no information on the dwelling or household family structure. 

Only people are counted at NPDs, not rooms, cells, units or beds. If there are long-term owners, managers or caretakers who work and live there, extra Private dwellings (PDs) are added.

Enumerated in other dwellings:

This category comprises:

  • Migratory
  • Off-shore
  • Shipping

Migratory is comprised of people enumerated on an overnight journey by plane, train or bus cannot be allocated a dwelling type. This category exists for data processing and data querying purposes only.

Off-shore is comprised of dwellings which exist on off-shore oil rigs and drilling platforms.

Shipping is comprised of people on ‘vessels’ travelling between ports in Australian waters i.e. ships, cargo vessels, passenger liners, ocean-going passenger or car ferries and dredges. Excluded are foreign-owned cargo vessels and those bound for overseas.

Question(s) from the Census form

This variable is not collected from a question on the Census form.

How this variable is created

This variable is derived from the Dwelling Type (DWTD) variable.

The correspondence between the two variable's categories is highlighted below.

1 Occupied private dwellings1 Enumerated in an occupied private dwelling
2 Unoccupied private dwellingsOut of scope
3 Non-private dwellings2 Enumerated in a non-private dwelling
4 Migratory3 Enumerated in other dwellings
5 Off-shore3 Enumerated in other dwellings
6 Shipping3 Enumerated in other dwellings


History and changes

This indicator has been included in every Census basic and detailed microdata product since 2006. There have been no changes made to this variable.

Data use considerations

A data error has been discovered with this variable, there is a small number of people with incorrectly coded migratory, off-shore, or shipping statuses.

The ABS does its best to have accurate Dwelling type information. However it can sometimes be difficult to determine Dwelling type for dwellings with mixed occupancy or where we were not able to make contact with the residents to confirm the type of dwelling.

Examples of mixed occupancy

 Private dwellingNon-private dwelling
Self-contained apartmentsLong-term private apartment accommodationShort-term hotel-style accommodation
Aged care and retirement villagesPrivate self-contained dwellingsCommunal accommodation with supported nursing care


Examples of misclassified dwelling types

Some non-private dwellings such as group homes for the disabled or convents and monasteries may not be easily identifiable as Non-private dwellings and may be treated as Private dwellings.

There may be misclassification between Unoccupied private dwellings and out-of-scope Private dwellings; non-residential premises and construction sites may have dwellings that are not habitable but are identified as Unoccupied private dwellings.

Related variables and glossary terms

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