The 2021 census is required to resemble no other throughout the entire existence of information assortment in Australia.
CENSUS 2021 in Australia
August 10 is the authority census date, however things will be done somewhat another way in 2021. This year, Australia’s 10 million families will get census login data or printed version structures via the post office from the following week.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics is urging individuals to finish the census when they accept their guidelines, in the event that they realize where they’ll be on August 10. In earlier years you needed to fill in your structure on census night.
What’s changed in terms of set-up?
Lessons have since been learned and these are seen in preparations for Census 2021.
The new window to complete the census, rather than a one-night burst, will help ease online bottlenecks and external threats. It will also reduce pressure on the many Australians in lockdown, juggling paid work and home schooling.
How will COVID affect the rollout?
The first major challenge for this year’s census takers has not been statistical, but practical.
With lockdowns still in force around Australia, how do you deliver census papers to hundreds of thousands of homes across the country?
“All census staff will operate under a COVID-safe plan. The plan follows guidelines from federal, state and territory governments to keep the community safe,” the ABS said.
The “robustness” of that plan was successfully put to the test last October, during a trial involving 100,000 households “in select locations across Australia”.
Making things significantly easier is the fact that three quarters of census forms are expected to be completed online, and the ABS said it had done “extensive planning” around community engagement.
“For the vast majority of people, the census is going to be contact free,” the ABS said.
“Most people will receive instructions by mail in early August and we expect 75 per cent online completion, which means they will have no interaction with census staff.
“We may need to work in some communities, and we’ll do so safely and following all public health orders and current local rules and restrictions.”
Census staff are considered essential workers and have been provided with “training around social distancing [and] hand hygiene” as well as “clear instructions about what activities are permissible in their local area”.
“For example, in some areas it may be appropriate to drop census materials in a letterbox, but staff won’t be able to knock on doors,” the ABS said.
What will we get out of census 2021 in Australia ?
The census has the power to say much about a nation and how populations are changing. While there will be no specific questions on COVID-19, the data will provide valuable insights into the impacts of the coronavirus on Australians. With the 2016 data now five years old, more up-to-date information is needed to make plans for the future.
With so many people in Australia in lockdown, the census will gauge the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 in a way no other data undertaking has been able to achieve yet. Individuals, communities and economic activities affected by COVID-19 will be reflected.
Census 2021 is no ordinary population survey – it will lay the foundation for Australia’s post-pandemic future by informing the nation’s social and economic recovery, including measuring the success of the vaccination rollout through improved population data. It’s more important than ever that we get this census right.
Results from Census 2021 will become available from June next year.
Will COVID harm the data?
For the first time since 2006, this census will include topic changes — there will be new questions on past or current Australian Defence Force service, and on long-term health conditions.
Dr Allen said rolling out the census during a pandemic created extra challenges around participation, including among minority communities.
“With census participation — there is definitely an association between cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and a knowledge and willingness to participate in the census, and a whole range of things are related to that.
“In earlier censuses there were drop-in sessions where people could physically go to their local library and have assistance in language to complete the census.
“Those things are not necessarily able to occur.”
But Dr Allen said there was a small “army” of community-based support staff who had helped “spread the word” about the census, getting the message out to the public about the importance of taking part.
Furthermore, there is a financial incentive to participate — people who fail to complete the census could be fined up to $222 per day, the ABS said.
“I don’t think the data will suffer, I don’t think we’re going to see the data compromised,” Dr Allen said.
“There are a range of checks and balances that the Bureau of Statistics conducts during census and after census to ensure that the data is robust and reflects Australia and the population in Australia.”
The future of the census 2021 in Australia
A number of countries, such as The Netherlands, have moved away from traditional census taking. Instead opting for data compilation performed using routine government data collected through administrative interactions. Like Medicare and Centrelink data being compiled by government for your census submission.
The Australian Statistician David Gruen, has foreshadowed such a possibility for Australia. The United Kingdom is also thinking about it. This approach is a concern as it excludes individuals and communities from a vital participatory undertaking, and the data quality suffers as people can no longer self-report information.
In its current form, census data is accessible, and contributed to, by all. Australia’s census data enable everyone from researchers, to policymakers, to ordinary individuals the power to hold government to account.
It belongs to all of us.
What’s changed in terms of the questions?
According to the bureau, this year will include the “first significant changes to the information collected in the census since 2006”. (Funding cuts since the 2001 have previously prohibited questionnaire refreshes.)
2021 will see new questions about long-term health conditions and defence force service. Sex beyond the binary of male/female will be also collected for the first time for all. These new additions to census have been made possible by the removal of the household internet connection question.
Improvements have also been made to better capture language and ancestry of First Nations Australians.
Census questions still have some way to go to better reflect contemporary Australia. But any changes to the census need to be understood by all.
Sexual orientation and gender identity, living in more than one place, and ethnicity are among improvements identified by demographers and social researchers for Census 2026, for example.