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Answers to FAQs

The Census


Is Census data safe?

Yes. All personal information is safe. Census data is stored securely and privacy is assured. Census data is not released in a way that could identify individuals or households. The security of data is the ABS’ most fundamental responsibility and by law, the ABS must not release this information with any other government departments or agencies, including the police, Australia Taxation Office or Centrelink.


Is Census data reliable?

Yes. Overwhelmingly, Australians again completed the Census with participation rates in 2016 comparable to recent Censuses. The final response rate will be released on 27 June, along with the first comprehensive dataset from the 2016 Census.

The ABS undertakes rigorous quality assurance processes to ensure Census data is of the highest quality, including a Post Enumeration Survey, which has followed every Census since 1966. Data collected in this survey is compared to Census forms and the result is used to calculate undercount or overcount, thereby ensuring high quality
official population estimates.

The ABS has also established an Independent Assurance Panel to provide extra assurance and transparency around Census data quality. The Panel is comprised of eminent Australian and international statisticians, academics, a state government representative and members of the Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC). The Panel is undertaking an independent review of 2016 Census data, alongside the ABS’ existing quality assurance processes. A report will be provided to the Australian Statistician in June, and released on 27 June 2017 alongside the main Census data release. Early quality assessments indicate that 2016 Census data will be high quality and fit for purpose.


How is Census data used?

Census is the definitive and often only open source of data on small population groups and small geographic areas. Data collected in the 2016 Census will underpin $500 billion of Government funding to States, Territories and local governments over the next five years. It’s also critical to the setting of Commonwealth, state and local electoral boundaries. Census data is also used by individuals and organisations in the public and private sectors to make informed decisions on policy and planning issues that impact the lives of all Australians.

For more information about 2016 Census data release and products see the summary of releases on our website.


Why is the ABS releasing data in June?

The release of comprehensive Census data on 27 June will coincide with the release of rebased Estimated Resident Population (ERP) and the results of the Post Enumeration Survey (PES) also on 27 June, providing a comprehensive package of Census and related information.

The release timing also ensures the Census Independent Assurance Panel, established by the Australian Statistician, has adequate time to review the Census results and to access validated Post Enumeration Survey data. The Panel is undertaking an independent review of 2016 Census data to provide extra assurance and transparency of Census data quality. All Census data released in June and October will be final.

2016 Census

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Census Independent Assurance Panel

Assuring Census Data Quality

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