Happy Census Day!
So this is Census day! Tuesday 9th August, 2016. The one day every 5 years everyone in Australia gets counted. And we rely on this dataset for so many things, this day is pretty important.
As we know, it’s all a bit different this time. Most households should have already received a login to complete their Census online, or requested a paper form. My family’s login arrived last week, and we will be filling it in online. My 9 year old daughter has a T-shirt from 2006 saying that she “just missed the count”. This Census she’s keen to fill in all her own details, and has even completed a practice paper form – independent young woman that she is! She’s disappointed that many of the questions relate only to people over the age of 15 so she won’t be able to answer them. Despite the recent negative publicity, most people are happy and indeed even quite eager to fill in their Census form. I think in the end most people like to talk about themselves!
My wife and I take it in turns to be “Person 1” on the household form, which is the household reference person, on which all household relationships are formed, and which forms the basis of person characteristics for the household (eg. “life stage of household” in profile.id). This Census it’s my turn to be person 1!
Is Census day special?
There are a few things about the day that make it special, but in a way it’s chosen to not be special at all.
Census night is always a Tuesday in August, away from school holidays and public holidays, chosen as a weekday when most people are at home in the evening, and going to work during the day. It’s always in winter, not holiday season.
In recent years we’ve had more and more people overseas on Census night, a record number in 2011. And this year it falls in the middle of the Olympic Games, so all the athletes and their support staff will be out of the country, and so not filling in a Census.
Babies born before midnight on Census night are included in the Census. Those born after midnight just miss out and have to wait 5 years for their chance to be counted!
Unfortunately people who die before midnight will not be included.
And of course anyone away from home but within Australia on Census night will be filling in a form where they are staying, with thousands of hotels, motels and boarding houses having extra forms ready for late arrivals! This affects the count by place of enumeration, but it is less important in the data output than it used to be, with most data now available by usual residence.
Roving teams of field officers will also be out getting personal forms to people in hospitals, and interviewing homeless people sleeping rough on the street to ensure they are included (and mark the no usual address box so we can get a clearer picture of the issue of homelessness in Australia).
Some people even have Census parties, where everyone fills out their Census form together! If it’s a sleepover party, everyone is included on the household form then! If they go home at the end of the night they’d need to use their own form.
What’s the forecast?
The weather on the day can have an impact on some of the data. The question on method of travel to work relates specifically to the day of Census itself. If it’s pouring rain, it’s likely you’ll get less people walking to work or riding their bikes than you would otherwise.
At the time of writing, the forecast for Melbourne is a balmy 18 degrees, with rain developing later in the day.
So have a great Census day!
Are you doing anything special? Maybe you’ve already filled in your form? Leave a comment to let us know.
.id specialises in analysing, enhancing and presenting Census data. Access our community profiles and see how some of the results from previous Censuses relate to your local area: Community profiles for Australia and New Zealand.