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Making A difference 2016 Census

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Making A difference 2016 Census

On Tuesday 9 August 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will conduct the five-yearly Census of Population and Housing. Census is a moment for each and every one of us to pause and play a role in shaping the future of Australia’s education, health, transport and infrastructure.

The Census provides a valuable snapshot of our society on Census night. It collects vital information that decision makers, governments and communities use to allocate services, facilities and funding in areas across Australia.

Everyone in Australia on Census night needs to complete the Census. By early August, most households will receive a letter with a unique Census Login that they can use to complete the Census online. It is expected that two-thirds of Australians will complete their Census online in 2016 - on their computer, tablet or smartphone. The online form has been designed to be fast, easy and secure.


A range of measures is being taken by the ABS to make sure that no one is left out of the Census. Paper Census forms will still be available to everyone that needs them, and can be requested by calling 1300 820 275. 

Like in previous Censuses, if someone needs help completing the Census, we encourage them to ask someone they trust to help. For people with vision impairments, the Census form is available in alternative formats – Braille, large print and audio. The ABS also contracts the National Relay Service to service any hearing or speech impaired clients who ring the Census Inquiry Service. 

The ABS provides assistance in languages other than English through the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450. Census advertising will be translated into up to 35 different languages, to increase the level of Census awareness in the community.

Special field staff are employed at Census time to conduct homeless street counts, and to distribute Census forms within hostels and refuges so that people who are living between permanent accommodation are counted. Publicity material is distributed to key locations to raise awareness of the Census to people who are couch-surfing, as well as grey nomads and other travellers.


All Census information provided is kept strictly confidential by law. The ABS does not share any identifiable information with government, or private agencies. All Census workers are legally bound never to share any personal information.


In-language brochures and posters are available in 25 languages on the ABS website.



What other forms of assistance are available?

Support is available for anyone who needs help participating in the Census. In some locations, such as hospitals and nursing homes, Special Field Officers will be employed to provide assistance in completing the Census.

If you need help completing the Census, we encourage seeking help from someone you trust, a family member, friend, carer or neighbour.

Will my personal information be provided to other government departments or agencies?

No. The personal information collected in the Census is not shared with any other government departments or agencies, including the police, Australian Taxation Office or Centrelink.

The ABS is legally bound to protect the privacy of all Australians and will not release your information in a way that will identify any individual or household.

When will data from the Census be available?

The first results from the 2016 Census will be released in April 2017.

Who does the Census?

Everyone in Australia, except foreign diplomats and their families, must complete the Census on August 9 this year, even if you are not an Australian citizen. The Census provides important information used to allocate funding and plan services in your community.

The online Census form is web accessible and the paper form is available in standard print, large print, Braille and audio formats. Auslan videos of the Census questions are also available from the CensusAustralia Youtube channel. The ABS is legally bound to protect all respondents’ privacy and will not share your personal information with any other government department or agency.
More information, go to or call 1300 214 531.

August 9 is a moment for everyone to pause and make a difference to the nation’s future.
Every five years the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) counts every person and household in Australia. In 2016, the Census will count close to 10 million dwellings and approximately 24 million people, the largest number counted to date.

This year, the ABS is changing the way Australians do the Census – making it quicker, easier and cheaper for everyone to be involved. More than 65 % of Australia’s population is expected to complete the Census online in August.

To ensure a smooth experience for people who are blind or have low vision, the 2016 online Census form has received certification by internationally recognised industry leader, Vision Australia.

The ABS consulted Vision Australia in designing the online Census form to ensure that the broadest range of people could access the Census form online from their home computers. Vision Australia also conducted both usability and accessibility testing. Online access codes are also able to be sent by email or SMS to assist completion of the online form.

From August 1, most households will receive a letter in the mail with a unique Login code and instructions on how to complete the Census online. Alternatively, you can also request a paper form by calling 1300 820 275.

2011 Census data revealed that:

  •  8,406 people recorded Auslan as their language spoken, a 34% increase from the 2006 Census.
    If you use Auslan or other languages, make sure you enter your language on the Census form.


It is important that all languages and religions are recorded in this census. Even if you speak English very well, if you also speak another language, it is important to state those other languages spoken.

Paper forms can also be requested in standard print, large print or Braille with an accompanying booklet for completion. An audio version of the form is also available on request.

2011 Census data revealed that:

  • 24.6% of Australia’s population was born overseas.
  • 43.1% had at least one overseas-born parent.
  • the largest increase for any country of birth was India (growing from 147,106 people in 2006 to 295,363 people in 2011).
  • Mandarin, Italian and Arabic were the most common non-English languages spoken at home.
  • Punjabi was the fastest growing language.

Cultural diversity to be on full display in the 2016 Census

The upcoming 2016 Census of Population and Housing (Census) will play a critical role in understanding and supporting the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

More significantly, it is expected that approximately 15 million people will complete the Census online, potentially making it one of the largest online events in Australian history.

Data collected from the Census helps community organisations, governments and businesses to plan for services and facilities, such as housing, healthcare and education. It is important that all questions on the Census form are completed accurately and in full. The information people provide is crucial in making a difference to local communities.