What questions should be asked on the next Census?

What questions should be asked on the next Census?

It seems like only yesterday the 2016 Census was happening, and indeed the final topics from the Census are still being released. But the ABS has just announced that consultation for the next Census in 2021 has already begun!

Each Census the ABS consults on the content of the Census. When the Census is conducted, a lot of people suggest new questions or query the questions which are asked on the form, but by that point, it’s too late! The consultation is done 3-4 years in advance of the next Census. The last two Censuses, the consultation has been done, but in the end the questions on the form remained much the same, due to government funding cuts in each case.

Submit your suggested questions

There is a webinar on April 5th, 2018 for those interested in the process – you can find more information about the 2021 Census consultation here.

Anyone can put in a submission about what you’d like to see included on the Census form, but it has to address the following issues:

  • the topic is of current national importance
  • there is a need for data from a Census of the whole population
  • the topic can be accurately collected in a form which the household completes themselves
  • the topic would be acceptable to Census respondents
  • the topic can be collected efficiently
  • there is likely to be a continuing need for data on the topic in the following Census
  • there are no other suitable alternative data sources or solutions that could meet the topic need

It is quite a bit of work to show that any new topic meets these criteria, and for good reason – it’s a very expensive process to add a question to the form, and the ABS needs to show that it’s worthwhile.

Of these criteria, showing there is a need for the data at a small area level (if it’s just needed nationally we could get it from a survey), and that it can be collected on a self-responded form (very detailed questions requiring interpretation are generally out) are probably the biggest hurdles for most suggested questions.

Some popular Census topics which have been suggested before but are yet to make in onto the Census form include:

  • Travel to education and shopping
  • Pet ownership
  • Ownership of investment properties
  • Participation in sport and leisure activities
  • Long-term health conditions
  • Second residences and shared parenting
  • Gender identification (as opposed to just sex – male or female)

If you are interested in getting any of these, or anything else onto the next Census, now is your chance. Any individual or organisation may provide a submission to the consultation.

We may also do a submission on behalf of our Local Government clients, so if there’s a topic you’d like to see on the Census, get in touch with us or, even better, share it in the comments below!

.id is a team of population experts who combine online tools and consulting services to help local governments and organisations decide where and when to locate their facilities and services, to meet the needs of changing populations. Access our local government area information tools here.

Glenn - The Census Expert

Glenn is our resident Census expert. After ten years working at the ABS, Glenn's deep knowledge of the Census has been a crucial input in the development of our community profiles. These tools help everyday people uncover the rich and important stories about our communities that are often hidden deep in the Census data. Glenn is also our most prolific blogger - if you're reading this, you've just finished reading one of his blogs. Take a quick look at the front page of our blog and you'll no doubt find more of Glenn's latest work. As a client manager, Glenn travels the country giving sought-after briefings to councils and communities (these are also great opportunities for Glenn to tend to his rankings in Geolocation games such as Munzee and Geocaching).

Leave a Reply