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ABS public consultation on topics for the 2016 Census


Under the Census and Statistics Act 1905, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is required to conduct a Census of Population and Housing every five years. The next one is scheduled for August 2016 and planning is already well underway. An extensive review of topics collected in the Census is being undertaken to ensure that the data collected remains relevant to contemporary Australia.


According to the ABS, ‘the review aims to optimise data relevance, whilst also considering the decreasing need for any current topics. As a result of this review, it is expected that some topics may be removed from the Census and that others may be included on a 10 yearly cycle’. Demand for new topics is expected to be high given the ‘no change’ Census that was undertaken in 2011, however this demand will need to be balanced by the removal of other topics to minimise respondent burden and Census costs.
 
As a starting point the ABS has released their topic recommendations in Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Content and Procedures, 2016 (cat. no. 2007.0). This information paper outlines topics recommended for retention, review or exclusion, as well as potential new topics such as educational institution address, mode of travel to educational institution, long-term health conditions, second residence/ownership of other dwelling, and sources of income. Topics recommended to be removed include: number of children ever born (to be placed on a 10-year cycle), and number of motor vehicles garaged.
  
All topics will be assessed against the following criteria:
  • National importance
  • Need for data for specific population groups and/or at the small area level
  • No suitable alternative data source
  • Suitable for inclusion in a Census (i.e. self-enumeration) and
  • Likely continuing need for data.
The ABS is encouraging submissions from the public and they can be lodged either online or in hard copy. The closing data for submissions is 31 May 2013. Following the assessment process, the ABS will make a submission to the Government, outlining recommendations on the nature and content of the 2016 Census. The content of the 2016 Census is expected to be known by the end of 2014.