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Productivity Commission Research Paper on the Financial Performance of Government Trading Enterprises
July 20, 2006
Consumer Price Index June quarter, leadership, wind farms, uranium – Press Conference, Treasury Place, Melbourne
July 26, 2006
Productivity Commission Research Paper on the Financial Performance of Government Trading Enterprises
July 20, 2006
Consumer Price Index June quarter, leadership, wind farms, uranium – Press Conference, Treasury Place, Melbourne
July 26, 2006

2006 Census Campaign Launched



The 2006 Census will take place on 8 August, with Census forms to be delivered from this week.

From Friday a small army of 30,000 collectors and supervisors will begin to distribute Census forms to every household in the nation. Then, from 9 August, they will return to collect the forms.

The Census enables us to lay down a statistical bedrock every five years. It provides a portrait of Australia and how it has changed over the last five years. Other surveys are conducted between Censuses, but they are built upon this bedrock.

A Census was taken on a national scale after Federation in 1901, but each of the states conducted their own Census separately and the results were then brought together. Differences between the methods used caused difficulties in comparing data and so it was decided that a national body should be created to coordinate the Census effort.

This was one of the factors that led to the Census and Statistics Act of 1905, which established the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. Since 1975 it has been known as the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Governments – local, state and federal, community groups, welfare groups and businesses make planning decisions on the basis of data that starts with the Census.

What is the profile of the people in a community? What industries are they involved in? Are there pockets of older people or younger people? What is the wealth distribution? Where are there areas of disadvantage? Where are the resources needed – and what type of resources might be needed? Census figures give us accurate indications of all these things.

I will be particularly interested in knowing more about Australia’s changing demographic profile. We know Australia’s population is ageing – but where are our older people living? To what extent are they participating in the labour force or undertaking voluntary work? How many require assistance because of disability or illness?

The Census will also provide a picture of our migrants, particularly their employment characteristics.

Census data has been used to select the best areas to establish breast cancer screening clinics, welfare groups have been able to locate the areas most in need of homes and care for the aged, and health and education services have been established using Census data. Census data is the basis for federal funding allocations to the states and territories. The number of seats in Parliament in each State and Territory is based on Census data, as are the boundaries of individual electoral seats.

This year people will also have the option of filling out the Census online – known as the eCensus. The ABS expects about 10 per cent of the population, or about 800,000 households, to complete their Census form online.

Some of the new additions on the Census form include:

  • Questions about unpaid work to help understand the contribution of unpaid work in Australian society, particularly the work done by unpaid carers of children and work done through voluntary organisations;
  • A question on whether a person needs assistance with day to day activities. This will help in understanding levels and areas of disability;
  • A question on the type of Internet connection households have; and
  • A question that is being asked for the first time since the 1996 Census – the number of children ever born to females over 15. This is asked every 10 years because measuring the lifetime fertility of women is essential for estimating Australia’s future population figures. This has implications for social and economic planning.

While it is not new, another special feature of the Census is the Census Time Capsule. This option was first introduced in the last Census. If people answer “yes” to the Time Capsule question, the personal information on their form will be microfilmed and kept securely for 99 years by the National Archives of Australia. In August 2105 this information will be publicly released.

It will be available to historians and genealogists for study. It will also be available to descendants. The personal information of those who do not chose this option will be destroyed, as usual, after statistical processing.

But the Census would not be possible without the small army of 30,000 community minded people who have been employed to work as Census Collectors and supervisors. They are responsible for delivering and collecting Census forms.

Collectors come from all walks of life: retired managers, former and serving school teachers, community workers, people working part time, parents with children.

Census work does not stop once the forms have been collected. Once Collectors have finished their job all the Census forms are sent for processing to the Data Processing Centre in Melbourne.

The Census data will be released in 2007. This data will be available on the ABS website and will be free to all Australians.

I once asked families to:- “have one child for mum, one for dad and one for the country.” There is yet another bonus in store for babies born from 2 August up to midnight on Census night. They get a commemorative T-shirt, emblazoned with the words: I just made the count!


Monday, 24 July 2006

Contact: Renae Stoikos

02 6277 7340