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2021 Census ready to operate in a COVID safe way

Media Release

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is ready to deliver a COVID safe and responsive 2021 Census.

Most people will complete the Census online with no contact from the ABS and all Census staff will operate under a COVID safe plan. The plan follows guidelines from federal, state and territory governments to keep the community safe.

Andrew Henderson, Census Executive Director and National Spokesperson said, “in the lead up to Census, we’ve undertaken extensive planning about how we engage with the community and ensure the safety of our staff during the pandemic.

“We were able to successfully test these plans in our major test of 100,000 dwellings across Australia in October 2020.

“For the vast majority of people, the Census is going to be contact free. Most people will receive instructions by mail in early August and we expect 75 per cent online completion which means they will have no interaction with Census staff.

“Field activity by Census staff is more common in areas where internet access or postal services are less reliable or where communities need extra help to complete the Census. Where we do need to work in the community, we will do so safely and in accordance with all public health orders.

“Ultimately, the health and safety of our Census staff and members of the community is our highest priority.”

We will continue to monitor health and government advice and actively adjust our approach to the circumstances in any given location to deliver the Census in a COVID safe way.

Field Officers play a vital role in delivering the Census and can be identified by their official identification passes, bright yellow satchels and official ABS documentation detailing the work they’re doing.

For more information, visit www.census.abs.gov.au.

More information

Conducting the Census in a COVID environment

The ABS is closely monitoring the quickly developing situation across multiple states and territories. We have implemented our COVID safe plan for field operations in the areas impacted.

This includes:

  • ceasing face to face contact in accordance with stay-at-home orders
  • wearing masks as required under Government directions
  • adhering to State Government Department of Health advice
  • minimal face to face contact with the community in all other locations with COVID-19 restrictions
  • maintaining physical distance and good hygiene.

All Census Field Officers have also been trained in COVID safe practices.

The robustness of the COVID safe plan was tested during last October’s Census Test when 100,000 households participated in select locations across Australia.

The test included trialling a mail-only approach in Victoria and a contactless system in Sydney where Field Officers dropped materials in letterboxes instead of knocking on doors.

More information on conducting the Census in a COVID-19 environment can be found at Keeping the community safe during COVID-19 | 2021 Census (abs.gov.au)

How do people know if a Census staff member is legitimate?
Information for the public on how to identify Census field and engagement staff is at Identifying Census staff | 2021 Census (abs.gov.au)

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.

A number of options will be available for people who need assistance to complete their Census form including help from Census staff, and phone and online help.

Census staff will be in remote communities to help people complete the Census during July and August.

What is new with the Census?
People can complete their Census as soon as they receive their instructions if they know where they’ll be on 10 August. They don’t have to wait until Census night.

There are two new questions in the 2021 Census – the first changes to questions collected 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.
  • Subscribe to our email notification service and get media releases or products sent to you on release.
  • For more information on Census 2021, visit the Census media hub.
  • For further information about the 2021 Census COVID responsiveness, visit https://www.census.abs.gov.au/about/covid-19.
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