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ABS consults further on topics for the 2026 Census

Media Release

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is today publishing a shortlist of topics being considered for the 2026 Census and launching the next phase of public consultation.  

Georgia Chapman, Director 2026 Census Content said, “earlier this year, the ABS invited the Australian community to tell us what they think should be included in the next Census.  

“We received 260 submissions and considered more than 500 other pieces of feedback as part of this consultation.  

“The Australian Census currently has 53 topics. This would more than double to accommodate the requests we received during the first phase of consultation.  

“The ABS has evaluated the value to the public of collecting each of these new topics and all of the existing topics, to develop our shortlist of topics for further consideration in the 2026 Census.”  

The ABS is now seeking public feedback to understand the impacts of the proposed changes to the topics. 

“There are more requests for new topics than can be accommodated in the Census, so new topics need to be prioritised and existing topics need to be considered for removal. 

“This is the time to let us know if there will be impacts for you or your organisation if we changed or removed one of the shortlisted topics. 

“Following this consultation, the ABS will assess the shortlisted topics further based on the feasibility of collecting the data in the Census. This assessment will inform the decision on which topics proceed to testing. 

“New topics in the Census are carefully considered to balance the cost to the Australian taxpayer and the burden on households when answering additional questions.”  

The second phase of consultation is open until 8 September 2023. 

In 2024, the ABS will make a recommendation to the Government on the topics for the next Census. The final decision on 2026 Census topics will be made by the Government.  

The ABS thanks everyone who provided feedback during phase one of the consultation, and for Australia’s ongoing support of the Census. 

For more information view 2026 Census topic review: phase one directions.  

Table 1: New topics being considered further for inclusion   
Theme Topic 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural identity 
Cultural diversity Ethnic identity 
Disability and carers Additional measure of disability 
Household and families Shared care of children 
Housing Dwelling occupancy status 
Location Main reason for moving in last 12 months 
Population   Gender 
Sexual orientation 
Variations of sex characteristics 
Transport Journey to education (Mode of travel to education institution and Name and address of education institution) 
Other topics Household energy use 
Impact of natural disasters 
Table 2: Existing topics being considered for change 
Theme Topic Proposed change 
Cultural diversity Ancestry Assess feasibility of increasing the number of ancestries collected 
Country of birth of parents    Investigate feasibility of redesigning the question to be more inclusive and meet data needs 
Main language other than English used at home  Assess feasibility of removing “at home” or collecting all languages used 
Proficiency in spoken English  Assess feasibility of asking the question of more people  
Religious affiliation    Review question design and response categories 
Education and training Attendance at an educational institution Assess feasibility of new response categories 
Health Long-term health conditions Assess feasibility of new response categories 
Household and families Household and family relationships  Assess feasibility of improving data on diverse family structures 
Marital status  Review response categories 
Persons temporarily absent on Census night Assess feasibility of asking additional questions 
Income and workHours worked Assess change from actual hours worked to usual hours worked 
Income    Assess feasibility of replacing with administrative data 
Labour force status Assess feasibility of collecting data on joblessness 
Status in employment Assess feasibility of collecting data on employment arrangements 
Population Sex  Review question design to collect sex recorded at birth and response categories 
Transport Mode of travel to work  Review question design and response categories  
Table 3: Existing topics being considered for removal 
Theme Topic Reason 
Income and workNumber of employees (employed by owner managers) Availability of alternative data sources 
Population Number of children ever born Move to decennial collection 
Transport Number of motor vehicles Availability of alternative data sources 
Unpaid work and care Unpaid work - domestic activities Availability of alternative data sources 

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