Improvements to the 2006 Census

Well before one Census is completed, work on the next Census begins. Preliminary work on the 2006 Census began as early as 2000.

All aspects of the 2001 Census were examined by the ABS with a view to identifying areas of potential improvement. This included:
  • The evaluation of form and question design
  • The effectiveness of collection and processing systems
  • The quality and the usefulness of the data provided to users.

The major improvements to Census procedures since the 2001 Census include:
  • Changes to the Census Inquiry Service
  • Changes to Field Operations and Administration
  • The availability of an Internet version of the Census form which can be completed and submitted on-line.

New topics for 2006

Some topics have been included in each Census since 1911, for example, age, marital status and religion, while others have been included or excluded depending on the importance of the topic at the time.

Topics selected for a Census must have specific purposes which are of national importance. There must be a demonstrated need for the Census data for use in policy development, planning and program monitoring.

New topics to the Census form since 2001 were:
  • Need for assistance: Need for assistance questions will cover the areas of self care, movement and communication. Reason for need for assistance or supervision will also be asked.
  • Unpaid work: This is being asked for the first time. These questions will include unpaid domestic work, unpaid care due to a disability, long term illness or old age, unpaid child care and voluntary work.
  • Dwelling internet connection: The answers to this question will be used to measure how widespread household access to the Internet, both broadband and dial-up, has become in Australia.
  • Number of children ever born: This question is asked every ten years to help calculate measures of lifetime fertility, including average number of children born to women and childlessness.

Adding value to the Census

To help answer questions such as ‘why are people where they are today?', 'how did they get to where they are?' and 'what can be done to improve peoples' situations?’ the ABS began developing a new way of looking at Census data that will add value to it.

This will help to paint a picture of how different situations impact on outcomes for people by expanding the range of statistical information available from the Census.

This project is described in Census Data Enhancement Project: An Update, Jun 2006 (cat. no. 2062.0).