2006 Census: Census questions - why are they asked?
 


Your name and address
Age and Sex
About the family
People on the move
Your heritage
Language
Religion
Need for assistance in everyday activities
Participation in education
Children ever born
Income
Jobs and work
Where you work and how you travel to work
Unpaid work
Persons temporarily absent
Houses, homes and dwellings
Internet access
Time capsule
Finished?


The topics to be included in each Census are decided after extensive testing and consultation with Census information users and other community groups with an interest in the content of the Census, and the general public who were also invited to comment.



YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

We use names in the collection process so that Collectors can talk to you and address you correctly. It also helps the ABS work out the different families in each household.

Addresses are also used to show how many people live in particular areas.

Both names and addresses are needed for a small survey, which is run soon after the Census to check whether we missed anyone.

The ABS does not keep people's names and addresses once statistical processing is completed.

For those who agree to the question on the Census Time Capsule, their name-identified Census information will be provided to the National Archives of Australia for release after 99 years (see Time Capsule for further information).



AGE AND SEX


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

Almost all decisions made by governments, businesses and local community groups depend on knowing how many men, women and children of different age groups are located in each part of Australia. This helps in working out the need for services such as schools, retirement homes and health services.


ABOUT THE FAMILY


Census fact - "Did you know that the number of people living in one parent families or living alone is increasing?"

WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

Answers to these questions provide a national picture of the make-up of Australian families. This is vital to the planning of support services and housing.

The Census information will show social changes, for example changes in the number of:
  1. People living together as married couples
  2. People living together as de facto partners
  3. People living alone.


PEOPLE ON THE MOVE


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

People in Australia often change their address. Nearly 50 per cent of Australians change their address in the five years between Censuses.

To help with future planning, it is important to know where people are making new homes and where they have come from.


YOUR HERITAGE


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

Over the last two centuries people have come from all parts of the world to live in Australia. An understanding of the origins of the people who call Australia home is essential in developing policies and services which reflect the needs of our society. Therefore, we ask about citizenship, country of birth and ancestry in the Census.

Ancestry is not necessarily related to the place a person was born but is more the cultural group that they most closely identify with. For example, a person may be born in New Zealand but have Samoan ancestry.


LANGUAGE


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

The main language spoken in Australia is English. However, past Censuses have shown that nearly three million Australians spoke a language other than English at home.

Knowing which other languages are spoken and how well English is spoken, makes it easier to plan for English teaching programs and for translation and interpreter services.


RELIGION


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

Church and religious organisations depend on the Census for information about how many people of their religion there are in different parts of Australia.

They and others use the information to assess the need for religiously based schools, hospitals, community services and homes for the elderly.


NEED FOR ASSISTANCE IN EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

Some people need assistance to perform everyday activities and participate in community life.

Understanding the number of people requiring assistance or supervision, whether due to a long-term health condition, ageing or disability, provides a picture of the level of assistance needed in particular areas.

This information will assist in the planning of local facilities and services, such as in-home support, respite care, and in the provision of information and support to carers.


PARTICIPATION IN EDUCATION


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

These questions are used to determine whether people are studying, and the types of educational institutions they are attending. Your answers will help to build a picture of the education levels in each area of Australia. They will also show how different groups of people participate in education.


CHILDREN EVER BORN


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

Information obtained from this question is used to calculate measures of lifetime fertility, including average number of children born to women and childlessness.

A question about the number of children ever born to a woman is asked every 10 years, and was last asked in 1996.

This information will assist with calculating future population projections for Australia and for studies into fertility of groups of women in Australia.

This Census question is important as it will provide information about the impact of fertility trends on social issues, such as the ageing of the population.


INCOME


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

Information on income provides an indication of living standards in different areas of Australia. This shows government and community groups where social services are most needed.


JOBS AND WORK


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

Information on how many people are working or looking for work tells us a lot about what is happening in society and the economy.

Answers to these questions will help to produce a picture of employment and unemployment at a local level and among particular groups.

Information about the type of work that people do can be used in planning for education and services. For example, information about peoples' occupations can be used to show how many health professionals work in country areas.


WHERE YOU WORK AND HOW YOU TRAVEL TO WORK


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

Information about workplace addresses helps us to understand the journeys people make to travel to work. Employers' business names and workplace addresses are destroyed once statistical processing is complete.

This information, when combined with information on how people get to work and the availability and use of cars, is used to plan for roads and public transport.

Daytime populations of particular areas are also estimated from this information so that services can be located where people will be during the day, rather than where they live.


UNPAID WORK


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

Answers to these questions will help in understanding the contribution of unpaid work to Australian society. They will help in the planning of local facilities, services such as day-care and occasional care, and in the provision of information and support to carers.

They will help in understanding the way Australian individuals and families balance their paid work with other important aspects of their lives, such as family and community commitments.

They will also add much needed information concerning the amount of unpaid work people do, including domestic activities, helping family, friends or neighbours, and volunteering.


PERSONS TEMPORARILY ABSENT


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

These questions ask about people who were away on Census Night, so that the correct family and household structure can be known. The structure of families and households (like the number of older persons living alone) is important information for many planning purposes.


HOUSES, HOMES AND DWELLINGS


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

The kind of place a person calls home, and the number of vehicles a person owns, is very closely related to that person's standard of living.

The answers to these questions provide an indication of the sizes of homes, the cost of housing and the extent of overcrowding in certain parts of Australia. This information is used for planning purposes by governments and others (for example, it helps the building industry plan the location of new housing developments).


INTERNET ACCESS


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

The Internet is changing the way we communicate, find information and conduct financial transactions. The answers to this question will be used to measure how widespread household access to the Internet, both broadband and dial-up, has become in Australia. This information will be used for planning purposes by both government and private sectors to enable wider and improved service delivery.


TIME CAPSULE


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

This question was asked for the first time in 2001. Over 52 per cent of Australians gave consent to have their name-identified data kept confidential for 99 years and then to be released in 2100.

In 2006, all Australians are again being asked if they would like to have their name-identified data retained and kept confidential for 99 years, then released in 2105 for research purposes.

If you answer ‘Yes, agrees’ in this question and sign the form, your name-identified Census information will be preserved on microfilm. This will be held securely by the National Archives of Australia, and will not be made available for research purposes until 2105.

If you mark ‘No, does not agree’ or leave this question blank, or do not sign the form, your name and address information will be destroyed once statistical processing has been completed.

People who may be interested in accessing this kind of information in the distant future include genealogists, historians, academics, social analysts, journalists, and family members.


FINISHED?


WHY ARE THEY ASKED?

The Census form is an official document. By signing the form you are saying that the information you have provided is complete and accurate to the best of your knowledge.

High quality data are essential if the Census is going to be of maximum benefit to the community.

No records of signatures are kept once processing is completed.
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