Every stat tells a story.

2020 Census Test kicking off across parts of Australia

Media Release

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today announced its large-scale Census Test of around 100,000 households across Australia will start rolling out this week. 

ABS Census Executive Director and national spokesperson, Andrew Henderson, said the test was part of the ABS’ extensive planning for the next Census in August 2021.

“This is the biggest test we’ll run before the Census to make sure it is easy for people to complete, our processes work and the Census form captures information accurately,” Mr Henderson said.

“Please take part if you’re selected for the test. Your participation will help us make sure the next Census is successful and produces the highest quality data.

“This data is used to plan and deliver infrastructure and services across the country – things that individuals, families and communities use every day like schools, health care, transport and roads.

“Census data has also been crucial during the coronavirus pandemic to help model the economic and social impacts of COVID-19,” he said.        

Mr Henderson explained that households selected for the test will soon receive a letter or form with instructions on how to take part.

“You can complete your test form as soon as you receive your instructions if you know who will be at home on Census Test night Tuesday 27 October 2020,” Mr Henderson said.

“You can also do it on Census Test night or afterwards. This window of time, rather than a single night, will also be available for the Census next year – for the first time in the history of the Census.

“We know people expect flexibility and convenience, so this will make it easier for people to fill in their form when it best suits them,” he said.

For more information about the Census Test visit www.census.abs.gov.au.

More information

Census data in use at test areas

The ABS have a range of statistics and examples of how Census data is being used within the Census Test areas. Visit our Census media hub.

Where will the Census Test take place?

100,000 households will be selected in Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin and Canberra, as well as regional centres of Karratha, Warrnambool, Alice Springs Town Camps and the community of Amoonguna.

Some households will receive a letter providing instructions on how to access an online Census form, and some will receive a paper form to complete.

Who needs to participate in the test?

Although the Census Test is voluntary, it is important that everyone who is invited participates. Not everyone in test locations will be asked to participate. If you don’t receive any information, don’t worry, there’s nothing you need to do.

What safety measures are in place for COVID-19 during the test?

The safety of our staff and the community is the ABS’ number one priority. Due to the current COVID-19 environment and restrictions, we will not be using any field staff in Victoria and will conduct the test via mail and online only. Our field staff in Sydney will be delivering Census instructions and forms to letterboxes only and will not be undertaking any planned face-to-face contact with the public. In all test areas where field staff are working they will follow strict measures, such as hygiene and physical distancing protocols, to protect themselves and the community.

Testing a number of approaches will be important, so we are ready for a range of possible scenarios that may be required next year.

The ABS will continue to monitor the COVID-19 environment and adjust our operations as needed to ensure the safety of the community and our staff. Our COVID-19 management plan is available at www.census.abs.gov.au and is consistent with advice from federal, state and territory authorities.

2021 Census

What is the Census?

The Census, held on Tuesday 10 August 2021, is a snapshot of who we are and tells the story of how we are changing. It is one of the largest and most important statistical collections undertaken by the ABS.

How will people complete their Census?

People will be able to complete the Census online, on their mobile device, or on paper. There will be a number of options available for people who need assistance to complete their Census form including help from Census field staff, and phone and online help.

What is new with the Census?

For the first time in Australia’s Census history, there will be a window of time to complete the Census, rather than a single night. The ABS will also introduce new questions in the 2021 Census – the first changes to questions collected in the Census since 2006. The new questions are on long-term health conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes, and on defence force participation.

Media notes

  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team on media@abs.gov.au or 1300 175 070 (8.30am - 5pm Mon-Fri). 
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