Have your say on the topics included in the 2026 Census

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).

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4 Responses

  1. Ian Bowie says:

    Careful thought needs to be given as to what respondents understand by the question ‘Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?’ Answers to that call for a judgement by respondents or by other including collectors as to what ‘origin’ actually means. Identification? Identification by others? A proxy for ancestry [on which there is a separate question on which respondents are limited to two-only responses which is wholly inadequate in multicultural Australia]? Descent? Ethnicity? I observe that many Australian who have Indigenous descent will have other descents also but census results do not reflect that [indeed, they suggest that Indigenous and Non-Indigenous are mutually exclusive classes which they are not]. More importantly for policy purposes, I observe that justice, education, health and welfare data collections ask questions along the lines of ‘do you identify as an Indigenous person?’ or ‘are you Indigenous?’ giving rise to numbers which cannot be compared strictly with census-reported numbers for Australians of Indigenous ‘origin’. Since Love & Thoms v Commonwealth of Australia (2020) there has been a High Court definition of ‘Aboriginal’ which the census should reflect. I observe also that many Australians, Indigenous, Non-Indigenous and Both, would claim multiple ethnicities (origins, racial, cultural) and census questions pertaining to these really should ask about ethnicity/identity and ancestry/descent separately – unless they are too sensitive to ask at all.

    • Thanks Ian, I know this is one that the ABS is looking at carefully – one of the things they’re considering is what additional information could be collected at this topic. Particularly whether there can be more detail on the group/nation a person identifies with.

  2. Fran Kendrick says:

    Hi Glenn

    We would like to see the question about internet usage returned to the census. We often used the data included in the 2016 census. It is a good question to support an understanding of digital access and usage and in an area like Fairfield it recorded quite low in 2016 and proved a challenge to share information during COVID.

    • Thanks Fran, most of our clients are showing a clear need to add internet access back into the Census. However I think it’s going to be an uphill battle, as ABS dropped this one due to the ambiguity of internet access over smartphones (is it home access or not?) and the difficulty of asking the question because of it – and this is likely to have only become worse since 2021. It’s certainly worth putting in a submission however.

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