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The conclusion of the Consultative Group was that the major policy issues required data for those people who were either born overseas, or whose parents were born overseas. For this purpose it was considered that an ancestry question, in combination with a question on whether the person's parents were born in Australia or overseas, would produce the desired information.
How responses were coded
For the 2001 Census respondents were asked to mark the ancestries they most closely identified with and to consider their ancestry back as far as three generations. Respondents had the option of reporting more than one ancestry but only the first two ancestries they reported were coded for the Census.
The order in which ancestries are listed with tick boxes in the census questionnaire is English, Irish, Italian, German, Greek, Chinese and Australian, followed by Other - please specify where respondents may write in an ancestry not listed above.
More Than Two Responses
Preliminary investigations indicate that over 90% of people provided one or two ancestries in response to this question. A further 5% of people provided a third ancestry, which was British in origin. For example, if English, Irish and Scottish ancestries were provided, only the first two, English and Irish would be coded. The third response would be 'lost'. The Ancestry question is intended to identify distinct cultural and ethnic groups in order to facilitate effective delivery of services to these groups. As people of British origin do not have a high demand for such services, the non-coding of these responses is not considered to be a significant issue.
More detailed information on the quality of Ancestry data, and the coding of responses, will be provided in a Working Paper due for release in mid 2003.
The question on ancestry caters for multiple responses. As a result some people will be recorded with one ancestry while others will have two. Therefore in a table which shows a selection of ancestries, those people who reported two ancestries will be counted twice and the total for the table will be greater than the number of people in the selected geographic area. To assist users when analysing ancestry data in standard output, for example Basic Community Profile, tables display both total responses and total persons.
Ancestry data can also be disseminated by way of customised tables with data displayed according to preference. For example, the number of persons who have both Australian and Vietnamese ancestry.
The ancestry variable (ANCP) was coded using the Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups (ASCCEG). More detailed information relating to ethnic, cultural and religious identity can be obtained by combining Ancestry (ANCP) with variables such as Birthplace of Individual (BPLP), Birthplace of Male Parent (BPMP), Birthplace of Female Parent (BPFP) and Religious Affiliation (RELP).
The 'Ancestry' Classification
The ASCCEG is the statistical standard for classifying data relating to the ethnic and cultural composition of the Australian population. It is the classification used to code Ancestry in the 2001 Census.
ASCCEG is a classification of cultural and ethnic groups based on:
The ABS has developed this classification to satisfy wide community interest in the ethnic and cultural composition of the Australian population and the characteristics of particular migrant community groups. The classification is intended to provide a standard to meet a growing statistical, administrative and service delivery need for data relating to these interests.
The ASCCEG classification for ethnicity is based on the self-perceived group identification approach, which is based on a self assessed response to a direct question. This approach measures the extent to which individuals associate with particular cultural or ethnic groups. More information on the classification can be found in the publication Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups (cat. no. 1249.0) released in 2000.
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