Every stat tells a story.

Australian Statistician urges households to action Census reminder letter

Media Release

The Australian Statistician, Dr David Gruen, is urging households that haven’t completed the Census to action their reminder letter today.

Under the Census and Statistics Act 1905, the Australian Statistician can issue people with a Notice of Direction, which directs people in writing to complete the Census.

The Notice explains that if someone doesn’t complete the Census, they can be prosecuted and fined up to $222 a day because ultimately the Census is compulsory.

As of Monday 13 September at 8:00am, the ABS estimates it has received 9,484,122 completed forms in the 2021 Census. The tally is based on 7,555,882 forms submitted online through the Census Digital Service and 1,928,240 paper forms mailed to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) by households.

Dr Gruen said, “This is a good result so far and I thank everyone who completed their Census on time. However, there are still some households that haven’t responded and it’s critical that everyone is counted.

“The Census is the only data insight that provides a picture of the social and cultural make up of every community in Australia, so every response matters.

“If you haven’t been able to complete, for whatever reason, please complete your Census now as it’s overdue. If you don’t have your Census letter, you can go online and complete today. Select the ‘Get a Census Number’ option. For people who have completed a paper form but haven’t returned it, remember to post your form to the ABS today using the reply-paid envelope supplied.

“In late September, the Census website, including the online form, and customer service channels will close.

“Until then, Census Field Officers will continue to visit households that haven’t completed during this period. The reminder visits are being carried out in line with local COVID-19 restrictions.

“The ABS is also requesting people with a second property—such as a holiday home or investment property—to go online and report if it was vacant or unoccupied on Census night. People can also let us know by calling 1800 512 441”.

There are a range of help and support options available for people who need assistance in completing the Census at www.census.abs.gov.au.

Media notes

  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team on media@abs.gov.au or 1300 175 070.
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.

Tally information

The Census form tally below includes household online and paper forms received by the ABS as of Monday 13 September at 8:00am. The rate at which forms are received will differ across states and territories due to the different levels of paper forms provided across Australia and different delivery timeframes.


Household forms received (online and paper)

Household forms received (estimated %) *

Australian Capital Territory



South Australia












Western Australia



New South Wales



Northern Territory






* The percentage of forms received is calculated by dividing the number of households that have submitted forms by the estimated number of households (or dwellings). The estimated number of households includes dwellings that were unoccupied on Census night, which will be removed when the final Census response rate is calculated.

**The tally for Australia is greater than the sum of all states and territories due to forms that are yet to be categorised to a particular state or territory.

Further information about communicating Census participation is available on the media hub backgrounder.

More information

Is the Census compulsory?
The Census is compulsory* under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 and fines can apply if someone refuses to complete their Census. Under the Census and Statistics Act 1905, the Australian Statistician can issue you a Notice of Direction, which directs you in writing to complete the Census. The notice explains that if you don’t complete the Census, you can be prosecuted and fined up to $222 a day.

*See the 2021 Census Privacy Statement for more information.

Conducting the Census in a COVID environment
We expect most people will complete their Census online with no in-person contact from us. More information on conducting the Census in a COVID-19 environment can be found at keeping the community safe during COVID-19.

How do people know if the Census instructions and Field Officers in their area are legitimate?
Census instructions will feature the official Australian Bureau of Statistics logo and the 2021 Census branding. See further information about how to identify a Census Field Officer on the website.

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