Using administrative data to help support communities to complete the Census

Helping maximise 2021 Census response


It is important the Census is completed by every person in Australia. The ABS is working to make it easy for people to participate in the 2021 Census. As part of these activities, we are using administrative data to help us understand where we can support the community to complete the Census.

Using administrative data to help focus our support

We consult with stakeholder groups, and we use previous Census data to understand the characteristics of the community in different locations across Australia. We use this information to focus our support in areas where it is needed most. For the 2021 Census we will enhance our understanding of the characteristics of the community across Australia by also using administrative data.

Administrative data provides insights into the characteristics of the community and where they’re located now, which may have changed since the last Census. Administrative data also helps us understand the characteristics of those parts of the community who may not have responded to the last Census. 

Administrative data is helping us to:

  • Work closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to share important information about the Census
  • Organise fill in form sessions to provide specific language assistance to people who speak a language other than English at home
  • Work with youth organisations and schools to promote the Census in communities with larger populations of young adults
  • Establish support hubs in community spaces to assist older Australians complete the Census or collect a paper form
  • Predict local response rates so our field staff are ready to help people who still need assistance to respond after Census night

Type of administrative data used to help maximise response

To inform planning for local areas, we use information from administrative and previous Census data grouped at a local area level. This includes information such as counts of people by age, sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, and English proficiency.

The administrative data we use comes from the Medicare Consumer Directory, Social Security (Centrelink) registrations, migration information from the Department of Home Affairs, and the Australian Taxation Office client register.

Information is brought into the ABS under strict conditions. It is stored and used with high levels of privacy protection.

In 2020 we conducted a privacy impact assessment on using administrative data for the 2021 Census. The independent assessment found the ABS has robust governance arrangements in place for handling administrative data, and recommended we keep the public informed of our administrative data use.  This article forms part of our ongoing commitment to transparency in our use of administrative data.