Every stat tells a story.

The Census is compulsory, every response matters

Media Release

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is reminding people that the Census is compulsory* and is urging people to complete their Census now if they haven’t done so already. 

Almost 1.3 million final reminder notices have been sent to households who haven’t responded requesting that they fill in their form and return it as soon as possible to avoid a fine. 

Census Field Officers are also visiting households that haven’t completed and are doing so in line with local COVID-19 restrictions.

The ABS is also requesting people with a second property—holiday home or investment property—to go online and report if it was vacant or unoccupied on Census night, 10 August 2021. People can also let us know by calling the Census Contact Centre on 1800 512 441.

As of Monday 6 September at 8:00am, the ABS estimates it has received 9,324,601 completed forms in the 2021 Census. The tally is based on 7,498,251 forms submitted online through the Census Digital Service and 1,826,350 paper forms mailed to the ABS by households.

Andrew Henderson, Census Executive Director and National Spokesperson said, “This is a very pleasing number so far and we would like to thank everyone who has taken part to help tell their community’s story.

“Every response matters, and yours does too. No community is too small to count. We want to make sure everyone is represented so we’re urging people to complete now.

“If you don’t have your Census instruction letter or paper form, you can go online and complete today. Select the ‘Get a Census Number’ option.

“Call us on 1800 512 441 to request a paper form or visit the Census website. If you’ve already ordered a paper form, it’s on its way to you. For people who have completed the paper form but haven’t returned it, remember to post your form to the ABS today using the reply-paid envelope supplied”.

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.

*See the 2021 Census Privacy Statement for more information.

Tally information

The Census form tally below includes household online and paper forms received by the ABS as of Monday 6 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









New South Wales



Western Australia



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.

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.
  • Further information is available in the media backgrounder on the Census Media Hub.
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