Countdown to Census

Media Release
Released
10/08/2020

It is exactly one year to go until Australia’s 18th national Census.

The Census is a snapshot of Australia. It tells the story of who we are and how we are changing. This makes it one of the most important collections undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Australian Statistician Dr David Gruen explained: “for the first time in Australia’s Census history, there will be a window of time to complete the Census, rather than a single night. This will make it easier for people to fill in their form at a time that best suits them.

“It’s important we meet modern expectations around convenience and ease of use, while delivering a system that is robust and secure. The 2021 Census is on track to do just that.”

People will be able to complete the Census online, on their mobile device, or on paper if they prefer. Help will be available for those who need it, including from Census field staff and phone and online services.

The ABS will also introduce new questions in the 2021 Census; the first changes to questions collected in the Census since 2006. The new questions are on long-term health conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes, and on defence force participation.

“The Census delivers enormous value to all Australians and the data it produces seeks to reflect the changing information needs of Australia.”

Dr Gruen stressed that all information collected in the Census is confidential, and no identifiable information can be released. The ABS’ commitment to privacy is reflected in the recent release of two independent privacy impact assessments.

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.

What happens next?

The next major milestone is conducting a large-scale test in October 2020. The test is to make sure our processes work, that the Census form captures the right information, and is easy for people to complete.

In November 2020 we will publish a report which outlines the final topics to be included in the 2021 Census and our plans for how and when we will release the data collected.

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.

How does the ‘window’ work?

If you know who will be at home on the Census night of Tuesday, 10 August 2021, you can complete the form as soon as you receive your instructions.

What are the new questions?

For the 2021 Census, the ABS will add new questions on health conditions, and Australian Defence Force (ADF) service. Questions on internet access in households will no longer be asked, given increased mobile internet usage on personal devices outside the home.

The changes allow the Census to collect data on long-term health conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes, to inform health policy and planning for community services.

Collecting information about ADF service will provide a better understanding of the circumstances of Australia’s veteran community and support better provision of services for this group.

How is the data used?

Census data tells us about the economic, social and cultural make up of Australia. It is used to inform many things, from planning schools, health care and roads, to local services for individuals, families and communities.

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

Media Notes

  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team on 1300 175 070 (8.30am - 5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our email notification service and get media releases or products sent to you on release.