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2021 Census topics and data release

Media Release

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today published the 2021 Census topics and data release plan.

The plan outlines the questions and information that will be collected in the 2021 Census including when and how Census data will be released.

The ABS will introduce two new questions in the 2021 Census; the first significant changes to questions collected in the Census since 2006. The new questions ask about long-term health conditions, such as arthritis, asthma and diabetes, and Australian Defence Force participation.

Andrew Henderson, Census Executive Director and National Spokesperson, said, “the addition of the 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. It will also assist decision making for health authorities, researchers, policy makers, communicators and educators.

“The inclusion of a question about service in the Australian Defence Force will provide a better understanding of the circumstances of Australia’s veteran community,” Mr Henderson said.

The question on internet access in households will no longer be asked, given increased mobile internet usage on personal devices outside the home.

Changes to existing questions have also been made to ensure the Census continues to be relevant to the community. The changes include improved collection of language and ancestry data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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 the 2021 Census data products will be released in early 2022,” Mr Henderson said.

All information collected in the Census is confidential and no identifiable information can be released. The 2021 Census topics and data release plan is available on the ABS website.  

More information

What is the Census?

The Census 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.

When is the Census night?

Tuesday 10 August 2021.

How are questions in the Census decided?

The Review of 2021 Census topics provides more information on the process and questions.

How is the data used?          

Census data tells us about the economic, social and cultural make up of Australia. The Census provides data on important topics such as populations, rents, mortgages, incomes, religion, languages, housing and more. It helps governments, businesses, researchers, not for profit and community organisations make informed decisions.

Learn about how community organisations use Census data through our ‘Your Census Counts’ videos.

What are the core products?

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

For details on the core products from the 2016 Census, see Information Paper: Census of Population and Housing – Products and Services, 2016

Other Census publications

The Planning the Census publication provides more information on how the ABS will run the 2021 Census and how the ABS will protect the privacy and confidentiality of the information provided.

Census Privacy Impact Assessments
The ABS has released the findings, and ABS responses, of two independent Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) looking at the way the 2021 Census will be run.

Value of the Australian Census
Lateral Economics has released an independent valuation of the Australian Census, which found that for every $1 invested in the Census, $6 of value was generated to the Australian economy.

Media notes

  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via media@abs.gov.au (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
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