The Census of Population and Housing provides a snapshot of Australia. It shows how our nation changes over time, helps estimate our population and informs critical decisions that guide our future. The next Census will take place in 2026.
Every Census, the ABS undertakes a review to inform a recommendation to the Government on the topics for the next Census. The review of topics includes extensive public consultation, stakeholder engagement and testing.
The review of topics for the 2026 Census included two phases of public consultation:
- Phase one: 28 February to 28 April 2023 - understanding what information the public would like the ABS to collect in the Census.
- Phase two: 27 July to 8 September 2023 - consultation on topics being considered for inclusion, change or removal from the 2026 Census.
The ABS has considered the feedback received during both phases of consultation. However, there are always more requests for information than can be accommodated in the Census.
The addition of any new or changed content to the Census needs to be carefully considered to ensure that the public benefit of the data outweighs the cost to the Australian taxpayer of developing the questions, collecting the data and then processing it. The ABS also needs to consider the need for comparability of data over time, the burden on Australian households of answering questions on the Census, and whether a longer or more complex Census form will decrease the quality of the data collected. Due to this, content changes need to be prioritised and existing topics considered for removal for the 2026 Census.
The 2026 Census topic review: Phase one directions publication provides a summary of the feedback received during the first phase of consultation, including the key themes that emerged and the shortlist of topics that have been considered during the second phase of public consultation and review.
The ABS has made decisions regarding the number of topics that proceed to the development and testing stage to fit within available resources and timeframes. The content changes that are proceeding to the next stage of the topic review process provide the greatest public benefit when considered against the cost and complexity of data collection.
The ABS will continue to refine the list of content through the development and testing stage before determining the combination of content changes. This is to maximise the value of 2026 Census data and maintain a high level of public support for the Census.
The ABS thanks everyone who provided feedback during both phases of consultation, and for Australia’s ongoing support of the Census. This concludes the public consultation stage of the 2026 Census topic review process. The ABS will publish the final list of topics on the ABS website in late 2025.