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Media release –

Australia records more than 96 per cent preliminary response rate for the 2016 Census

11 October 2016 | CO/108

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) would like to thank Australia for participating in the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. The preliminary response rate is now confirmed at more than 96 per cent. This ensures we are on track to deliver the quality Census data Australia needs.

With the last of the 38,000 Census field staff wrapping up after more than six weeks out in the field, the ABS will now focus on processing the 4.9 million online and 3.5 million paper household forms.

Head of the Census, Duncan Young, thanked Australians who submitted forms, and said every form is welcomed as they continue to come back into the ABS this month.

“I’d like to thank everyone who completed the Census,” Mr Young said. “We’d once again like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by the system outage on Census night.”

“Despite the setback, we’ve received a fantastic response from Australians which is testament to the value the community sees in the Census and the insights it generates.”

More than 58 per cent of the household forms received were submitted online. The ABS is pleased to have received 4.9 million online forms - 2.2 million more in 2016, compared to 2011.

“Our experience in Census 2006 and 2011 was that online forms produce higher quality data and are quicker to process. This increase in online forms will allow us to release Census data more than two months sooner than in 2011,” Mr Young said.

“Over the next six months our focus is on processing and quality assuring the results of the 2016 Census to ensure we produce a high quality snapshot of Australia.”

The first results of the Census will be released in April 2017 on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website. The second round of results will be released in June 2017.

How the household preliminary response rate is calculated

The ABS estimates that at the time of the 2016 Census there were 9.8 million private dwellings in scope for the Census. The number of dwellings occupied on Census night is always fewer than anticipated, and to date around 1 million dwellings have been identified as unoccupied.

The ABS does not need Census forms from dwellings that were unoccupied on Census night.

In the 2011 Census, fewer than 90 per cent of private dwellings were found to be occupied on Census night in Australia. Calculations of the Census response rate take into account unoccupied dwellings in order to be accurate.

The final response rates were 95.8 per cent in the 2006 Census and 96.5 per cent in the 2011 Census. The minimum required response rate for the 2016 Census is considered to be 93.3 per cent.

The final dwelling response rate for the 2016 Census is only available after the scanning, processing and quality assurance of all Census forms, and will not be available until April 2017. The final dwelling response rate may vary from the preliminary response rate.

Fast facts about the 2016 Census

  • The 2016 Census employed 38,000 staff to count approximately 24 million people across around 8-million square kilometres.
  • The newest island to be added to the Australian Census count is Norfolk Island. Sitting approximately 1,450 kilometres off the coast of northern New South Wales, the Census will record Pitcairn ancestry and Norf’k as a language for the first time.
  • There were 25,200 forms sent to Australians working and living on ships, cruise liners and off-shore mining rigs.
  • For the first time, the Census online form reached AA Accessibility standard certification meaning people who are blind, deaf or have low vision were able to complete the Census independently using screen reader programs such as Jaws or Window Eyes.
  • The Census counted people in more than 36,000 dwellings across remote national parks, pastoral properties, roadhouses, mining camps and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Australia’s homelessness population was recorded by Special Field Officers visiting homelessness shelters to count people sleeping rough, staying in supported accommodation, staying in rooming or boarding houses or living in overcrowded dwellings.
  • The Translating and Interpreting Service helped more than 30,000 people participate in the Census.
  • Census advertising and instruction materials were translated into 39 different languages.
  • The biggest work area for which a single Census field staff member was responsible for was 1.922 million kilometres squared.

For further information on the Census, visit

For media inquiries, including interview opportunities

National Media Manager (P) 02 6252 6617 (E)

The ABS is committed to upholding the privacy, confidentiality and security of all the personal information it collects. Read more about our approach to privacy and our privacy policy on the ABS website.

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