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Media Releases

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. 




MEDIA Release May 20, 2016


Civil Society Statement of Concern

The media and Mr Duncan Storrar

Friday 20 May 2016

We are a diverse group of community leaders, commentators and thinkers in civil society and civic participation coming together to express concerns about the media treatment of Mr Duncan Storrar and what this says about the current state of our democracy.

Mr Storrar is a person with a disability experiencing a low income who has been subject to intense and intrusive negative scrutiny after asking a question about tax inequality on a current affairs program.

On the ABC’s
Q&A program on Monday 9 May 2016 Mr Storrar asked a question about the Budget, tax cuts, and income inequality.  In speaking to these topical current affairs matters he identified as a person with disability who is struggling to support a family while experiencing a low income. Mr Storrar engaged in appropriate and civil discussion inside the program format and made a valid response that all people pay tax including via taxes applied to petrol, goods and services.

Since asking that question Mr Storrar has been subject to an onslaught of personal investigations, attacks, intrusion into his privacy, family and ridicule in a range of publications, including
The Australian and The Herald Sun newspapers.  The patent disregard of the impact of this reporting on an individual is an abuse of power. The reporting has also been a further example of the willingness of parts of the media to vilify and demonise people on low incomes or from marginalised backgrounds.

We believe it’s time to ask why a member of the community is being targeted in an extreme way for simply asking a question about the fairness of a tax cut on a national broadcaster during an election campaign.

The issues involved go beyond one individual and represent a turning point for the open debate, discussion, criticism and dissent which underpin our free society.

It’s also time we heard where our leaders stand on the rights of all people, particularly community members, to participate in public debates without bullying and intimidation.  Political leaders have a positive obligation to protect public participation by people who are less powerful, knowing that more powerful people will otherwise dominate our democracy.

It is a public right to ask questions. It is the job of the media to report them and the responsibility of parliamentarians to protect our ability to do so.


We are concerned

  • a member of the community is being targeted in an extreme and disproportionate way for peacefully expressing widely held views on income and equality issues on the national broadcaster during the federal election campaign;
  • the treatment of Mr Storrar sets a dangerous precedent across the democratic process.  Any person who writes a letter, takes part in a newspaper ‘vox pop’ or rings a talk back radio station with views about income inequality or fairness now has a reasonable basis for feeling under threat of retribution through intrusive and personalised attacks;
  • that people on low incomes or people with a disability, people living with a mental illness who are vulnerable or marginalised are systematically excluded from the democratic process when it comes to participating in public debates. This is a dangerous and unhelpful position which reverses democratic tradition dating back to the abolition of property rights for suffrage; and
  • there appears to be a lack of leadership from politicians, institutions and the media to safeguard long held rights for all people to express their lived experience as part of the democratic process during a Federal Election.  

We call on:

  • Our national leaders including the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to clearly and publically reaffirm the rights and responsibilities of all people regardless of background, disabilities or income level, to take part in public debate and to express diverse opinions in the public square in a peaceful way free from bullying, personal intrusion, harassment or intimidation;
  • The incoming Human Rights Commissioner to begin a dialogue on responsible measures, such as an Australian Bill of Rights, to safeguard the rights of members of the community and civil society organisations to engage in civil discourse and public debate free from gags, threats, bullying and harassment;
  • The Press Council and the Australian Communications and Media Authority to investigate whether the media treatment and extreme overreach in the response to Mr Storrar’s question on the national broadcaster constitutes a breach of their Standards and requirements. These include to avoid causing or contributing materially to substantial offence, distress or prejudice, or a substantial risk to health or safety unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest; and
  • Media organisations to recognise and affirm that the ability of individuals to speak in the public arena free from interference, bullying and intimidation is entwined with their own freedom to publish without interference, bullying and intimidation from the State.
  • In doing so we invite all media outlets concerned with the coverage of Mr Storrar to reflect on the articles which underpin the Charter for a Free Press in Australia agreed by the Press Council in 2003.
  • The charter preamble underpinned through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Article 19 of the Declaration provides: "Everyone has the right of freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".


This Civil Society Statement of Concern is supported by:

Robert Altamore, Executive Officer, People with Disability ACT (PWD ACT)

Greg Barns, Barrister and Former National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance

Karen Batt, Community and Public Sector Union Joint National Secretary

Jackie Brady, Executive Director, Family Relationships Services Australia

Julian Burnside AO QC 

Irina Cattalini, Chief Executive Officer, WA Council of Social Service (WACOSS)
Kasy Chambers, Executive Director, Anglicare Australia
Dwayne Cranfield, Chief Executive Officer, National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)
Dr John Falzon, Chief Executive Officer, St Vincent de Paul Society, National Council of Australia
Carolyn Frohmader, Executive Director, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
Travis Gilbert, Executive Officer, ACT Shelter Inc
Dr Cassandra Goldie, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)
Kym Goodes, Chief Executive Officer, Tasmanian Council of Social Service (TasCOSS)
Damian Griffis, Chief Executive Officer, First Peoples Disability Network (Australia)
Meredith Hammat, Secretary, UnionsWA
Max Hardy, Consultant, author and advocate for citizen voice

Susan Helyar, Director, ACT Council of Social Service Inc. (ACTCOSS)

Mark Henley, Chief Executive Officer, Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS)

Ged Kearney, President, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)

Tim Kennedy, National Secretary, National Union of Workers.
Emma King, Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS)
Dr Caroline Lambert, Executive Officer, YWCA

Marcelle Mogg, Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Social Services Australia
Wendy Morton, Chief Executive Officer, NT Council of Social Service (NTCOSS)

Michele O'Neil, National Secretary, National Secretary of the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia
Adrian Pisarski, Executive Officer National Shelter
Christina Ryan, Chief Executive Officer, Advocacy for Inclusion
Jo-anne Schofield, National Secretary, United Voice

Gerard Thomas, Policy & Media Officer, Welfare Rights Centre Sydney
David Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, Jobs Australia
Craig Wallace, President, People with Disability Australia (PWDA)
Alex White, Secretary, UnionsACT
Greg Withers, Chief Executive Officer, Community Housing Industry Association
Ross Womersley, Chief Executive Officer, SA Council of Social Service (SACOSS) 
Heather Yeatman, Board President Public Health Association Australia.



Media first contact: Craig Wallace, President, People with Disability Australia 0413 135 731

Alternate contacts:  Dr Cassandra Goldie, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) 0419 626 155 and Dr John Falzon, Chief Executive Officer, St Vincent de Paul Society, National Council of Australia  0421 332 247.


MEDIA Release May 19, 2016

The National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) is again disappointed by recent comments made by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Mr. Peter Dutton.


Minister Dutton, linked Australia’s humanitarian refugee intake to higher unemployment rates and went on to say that most refugees were illiterate in their language, let alone English.


These comments came in response to the call from the Greens to increase our humanitarian refugee intake to 50,000 in the wake of the global crisis.


NEDA President Suresh Rajan stated “I am disgusted that this Government continues to play wedge politics with some of the most vulnerable people in society. This Minister has continued to engage in dog-whistle politics. At its worst this panders to the extreme right and those people who are ill-informed as to the nature and the realities that refugees face. We must also remember that many Australians are from a refugee background, for example, people such as Frank Lowy and Dr. Karl came to Australia as refugees and have gained statuses as eminent citizens”.


Dwayne Cranfield NEDA CEO stated that “this shows just how ill-informed Minister Dutton is, his ignorance with regard to the educational standards and the capacity of refugees to contribute, is just astounding”.


NEDA echoes the calls of like-minded NGO’s in the sector, urging our political leaders to have a more rational and open discussion based on facts, our human rights obligations, and not wedge politics that incite fear. “Like all societies, people have varied skills and abilities: however we all aim to strive to the best of our abilities,” stated Dwayne Cranfield CEO.


Suresh Rajan NEDA President continued “it’s difficult not to be cynical given that we have just entered an election cycle; these comments seem to be aimed at those in the community who have a bias against immigration and Islam. It would seem that the only purpose of this type of comment by the Minister is to gain votes by being divisive”.


“The Liberals are not the only party playing this card,” said the NEDA President. ”We have seen this type of conduct and wedge politics from successive Governments, on both sides, and it must stop.”


NEDA supports the comments of FECCA’s Chairperson Joe Caputo who said, “At FECCA we are calling for the discussion to be brought within the bounds of acceptable discourse.” 


“Immigration enriches the Australian culture. These people bring with them skill-sets and cultural experiences that broaden the life experience of us all. When will we see their contribution to Australian society and not view them as a burden?” stated the NEDA President.


For further information, please contact NEDA CEO Mr. Dwayne Cranfield on 02 62626867 or NEDA President Mr. Suresh Rajan on 0413436001.                                 @NEDA_PeakBody