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Next Census to be held in 1996

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Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communication and the Arts

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Tourism

PRESS RELEA SE v________ !___

NO: pst 15


The Hon Paul Elliott MP today announced that the next national Census of Population and Housing will be held on the 6 August 1996.

The Census, which is held every five years, is the most wide ranging collection undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). It involves contact with every Australian household and gives a statistical snapshot of the whole population.

"The vast statistical output from the Census is available to everyone in the community through the Bureau of Statistics," Mr Elliott said.

Federal, State and local Government agencies; social service organisations; churches; research institutions; businesses and private individuals all use Census data to assist in informed debate and decision making.

Mr Elliott reminded people that it is vital that all Australians participate in the census so a high quality response can be achieved.

"It takes less than half an hour per household every five years to complete a Census form," he said. "Census data helps us decide about the type and location of Government services a community needs. I believe the benefits for efficient planning and administration outweigh any inconvenience involved."

The Government will conduct a public awareness campaign prior to and during the Census. The aim of this campaign is to maintain high quality responses to the Census by reassuring people that the statistics are useful and treated confidentially.

The campaign will also promote the availability of assistance for those who, for language or other reasons, may experience difficulty in completing the census form.

A key goal for the 1996 Census is to make the results available quickly. A wide range of final data will be available about 10 months after the 1996 Census.

Regulations gazetted today specify the topics to be included in the Census.

"The Government considers that the topics selected for the Census represent a reasonable balance between the need for information, the appropriateness of the Census as a means for collection particular kinds of data, the cost of the undertaking and the need to ensure that completing the forms does not impose too great a burden on the public," Mr Elliott said.


The ABS will conduct tests to decide on the final definitions, wording and sequencing of Census questions. The Australian Statistician will then table a proposal for the collection of information, under section 6 of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975.

As with previous Censuses, strict measures will be taken to ensure that the information provided to the ABS remains confidential. The Director-General of Australian Archives has advised that he will authorise the destruction of the 1996 name-identified records, including Census forms, under section 24 of the Archives Act 1983. The Government endorses this decision. In addition, the ABS will continue the practice of destroying all records of names and addresses and will not store names and

addresses on computer files.

"Some people have requested that information on identified persons and households be archived for later access rather than being destroyed. However, the Government considers that this would be inconsistent with the need to ensure confidentiality of Census information," Mr Elliott said.

The Government's decision to proceed with the 1996 Census, follows a review of the census methodology, frequency and content. As a result of this review, the Government has decided to continue its existing policy of conducting a full Census of all Australian households every five years.

This decision is supported by the Australian Statistics Advisory Council which comprises representatives from the States, Commonwealth Government agencies, business, trade union, academic and community organisations. The Government appreciates the considerable amount of time that the Council has devoted to considering plans for the 1996 Census. Its conclusions have

been of great assistance to the Government in reaching its decisions.

More information is available in the ABS information paper 1996 Census of Population and Housing: Nature and Content which was published today.

6 September 1994

Contact: Paul Elliott's office Kerry McCallum

Australian Bureau of Statistics Dr Siu-Ming Tam 06 277 4387 06 252 6402