Census of Population and Housing
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Telephone 1300 135 070
Overseas clients please call 61 2 9268 4909
The Census of Population and Housing is conducted every 5 years, most recently on 8 August 2006. The Census is the largest statistical operation undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). It aims to accurately measure the number of people in Australia on Census Night, their key characteristics, and the dwellings in which they live. This provides a reliable basis for the estimation of the Australian population and detailed information on the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the population.
In an education context, certain characteristics such as attendance at an educational institution, highest year of schooling completed, and level, field and year of non-school qualification, can be related to other demographic characteristics. The Census provides data for small geographic areas and for small population groups.
The Census includes all people, except foreign diplomats and their families, who are in Australia and its internal and external Territories on Census Night. This includes:
- People working or living on boats in Australian waters;
- Visitors to Australia, regardless of how long they have been in Australia, or how long they plan to stay;
- People outside but normally resident in Australia who are not subject to outbound migration formalities, such as those on oil and gas rigs off the Australian coast;
- People of the Torres Strait Islands (which are part of Australia);
- People of the Territories of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island - following the enactment of the Territories Reform Act 1992, the results for these Territories were included in the counts for Australia for the first time in 1996;
- People "over-wintering" in the Australian Antarctic Territory;
- Overseas visitors to Australia;
- Homeless people;
- People on aeroplanes travelling between Australian destinations on Census Night;
- People on ships travelling between Australian destinations on Census Night;
- All children, including newborn babies born before midnight on Census Night;
- People in detention centres;
- People in prison;
- Transport drivers on the road; and
- People in hospitals and institutions.
The reference day for the 2006 Census was 8 August.
Frequency of Collection
Every five years. The next Census is on Tuesday 9 August 2011.
Method of collection
The Census of Population and Housing is a self-enumeration collection. A collector leaves the questionnaire to be filled in by a respondent on behalf of the household, and returns to collect the form at a later date.
The first release of data from the 2006 Census will occur in late June 2007, with the second release following progressively, from September quarter 2007 onwards.
Census Dictionary, 2006
(ABS cat. no. 2901.0)
Census of Population and Housing: Census Guide, 2006
(ABS cat. no. 2914.0.30.001)
2006 Census of Population and Housing - Fact Sheets, 2006
(ABS cat. no. 2914.0)
Information Paper: Census of Population and Housing - Proposed Products and Services, 2006
(ABS cat. no. 2011.0 )
Data are available from the collection district level (approximately 250 households) through to state, territory and national levels. Data are classified according to Statistical Geography Volume 1 - Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), Jul 2006
(ABS cat. no. 1216.0). Data are also available for Urban Centres and Localities, and a range of Census specific geographic areas, such as Suburbs, Commonwealth and State Electoral Divisions and Indigenous Areas.
Standard products for the 2006 Census will include:
- QuickStats: summary of key Census data with some textual description.
- Census Fact Sheets: quick references summarising conceptual and data issues, and any changes that have occurred since the last Census.
- Census Tables: data on a particular geographic area, or data on a specific topic.
- Community Profile Series: key Census characteristics enabling comparisons to be made between different geographic areas.
- QuickMaps: thematically mapped socio-economic Census statistics.
- CDATA Online: instant access to data topics from a single Collection District to an entire State/Territory or all of Australia.
- Table Builder: will allow users to construct their own tables via an interactive web interface, using a database containing the 2006 Census Unit Record File. Table Builder will be a 'fee for service' product.
- 2006 Datapacks: a CD-ROM product containing Census data, down to Collection District (CD) level, and digital boundaries in generic formats. It is available for purchase for all of Australia (and, upon request, at a state level).
- Statistician's Report: a national compendium publication that will contain key Census data in tables and graphs with analytical commentary about the statistics presented.
- Social Atlas Series: now expanded to include key social, demographic and economic information on selected regional centres of each state or territory as well as each capital city in Australia.
- 2006 Census Sample File (CSF): a comprehensive Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) of Census variables, containing a small random sample of private households and associated persons, and a small random sample of persons in non-private dwellings.
- SEIFA 2006: a powerful analytical tool that enables investigation of the socio-economic wellbeing of Australian communities and identifies areas of advantage and disadvantage.
ABS Consultancy Services will provide the following census specific services, as data becomes available:
- Customised Profile Services
- Customised Table Service
- Customised Geographic Data Reports Service
- Customised Mapping Service.
Further information about 2006 Census products, their availability, and previous Censuses, is available at the Census webpage, http://www.abs.gov.au/census
The Census Guide is a CD-ROM product, containing a range of useful 2006 Census reference material including the Census Dictionary and historical information; product information and demonstrations; and Census on line. Information on the contents of the Basic Community, Indigenous and Time Series Profiles, Census Snapshots, and QuickStats is provided. To order this free product, contact the ABS National Information Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
Highest year of school completed
Level of highest non-school qualification
Main field of highest non-school qualification
Level of Highest Educational Attainment (derived variable)
Student status (full-time/part-time)
Type of educational institution attending
Employment in education related industries
Demography (e.g. age, sex, marital status, family characteristics)
Country of birth
Labour force (status, occupation, hours worked, industry)
Family (e.g. family type, relationship, income)
Household (e.g. household characteristics, income)
Dwellings (e.g. rent, mortgage, number of usual residents)
Transport (e.g. number of motor vehicles garaged, method of travel to work)
Visitors and migration
A full topic index and list of variables is available in Census Dictionary, 2006
(ABS cat. no. 2901.0).
The first census conducted by the Commonwealth of Australia was in 1911, with subsequent censuses being conducted at irregular intervals up until 1961. Since 1961, the census has been conducted every five years.
Changes to education variables for the 2006 Census include:
- Renaming of 'Highest Level of Schooling Completed' to 'Highest Year of School Completed'.
- Introduction of the derived variable 'Level of Highest Educational Attainment'.
- Deletion of 'Non-School Qualification: Year Completed'.