Every stat tells a story.

Australian Bureau of Statistics publishing tallies of 2021 Census participation

Media Release

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today announced it will publish tallies of participation in the 2021 Census of Population and Housing through the number of forms received online and by mail.

An initial tally will be published on the ABS website on Wednesday 4 August at 10am AEST. The next tallies will be published on Monday 9 August and Wednesday 11 August, the morning after Census night. Twice weekly tallies will then be published each Monday and Thursday.

Dr David Gruen, Australian Statistician, said that the ABS recognises there is public interest in Census participation. “We will report on the number of forms received from early August through to the end of September.”

The primary input to the twice weekly tallies will be the number of online forms submitted. The ABS expects 75 per cent of households to complete online. As paper forms start to arrive from all over Australia, they will be added to the tallies.

“We try to make sure everyone has a chance to participate so Census collection continues for several weeks after Census night.”

“While we are encouraging people to complete their Census form early this year, we know some  people won’t complete until after Census night and many parts of Australia will submit a paper form that will take time to arrive. We also know some people will need a reminder or help to respond and that’s why we will be assisting households in the weeks after Census night,” Dr Gruen said.  

The tally of forms submitted by households does not directly translate to a response rate, which is the proportion of the Australian population that has completed the Census. The response rate, which is the official completion measure for the Census, will be determined after all forms have been submitted and quality checked.

The final response rate will be published with the first release of Census data in June 2022.

More information about participation in the 2021 Census is available at census.abs.gov.au.

More information

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.

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)

What’s new with the Census?
People will be encouraged to 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. The ABS will also introduce 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

When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.

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