Every five years, the Australian Bureau of Statistics attempts to count every person and household in Australia. This count is called the Census of Population and Housing.
The ABS says the Census is the most comprehensive snapshot of the country and tells the story of how we are changing. It includes around 10 million households and over 25 million people. Census data indicates the economic, social and cultural make-up of the country.
Historically, the Census hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Many, from Jedis to Atheists, see the collation of data about our religion, our income and who is in our home, as an invasion of privacy. In some countries a census has been use for far more nefarious purposes.
In Australia, the 2016 Census taking was a bit of a flop. The ABS census website shut down at about 7.30pm on the night the census was to be completed owing to a cyber attack that couldn’t be fought off, which left many concerned about the privacy of their information and whether or not they had been counted.
The Census website has attempted to allay fears for the 2021 online count by assuring Australians that they use secure HTTPS web connections to provide greater security. ‘We use HTTPS to secure and protect all personal information and information that could identify someone on the Census form. You can fill in the Census knowing we protect all your information.’
The ABS estimates it has received 2,388,009 forms in the 2021 Census as of Monday 9 August at 8am.
Andrew Henderson, Census Executive Director and National Spokesperson said the ABS is encouraging everyone who hasn’t yet completed their Census to take the opportunity to complete it today as soon as you can.
The Census is compulsory. If you forget or refuse to fill out the Census, the ABS will be in touch. Under the Census and Statistics Act 1905, the Australian Statistician can issue you a Notice of Direction, which directs you in writing to complete the Census. The notice explains that if you don’t complete the Census, you can be prosecuted and fined up to $222 a day.
For more information, visit: www.census.abs.gov.au.