The confidentiality of your information is protected by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

The Census collects information relating to each person and household in Australia. The Census is taken to provide information about the community as a whole, and groups within the community.

The personal information you provide in your Census form remains strictly confidential to the ABS. No information will be released in a way that would enable users of Census data to identify any particular individual or household.

The ABS destroys all name-identified Census information after statistical processing has been completed, except where people explicitly agree to it being retained for 99 years by the National Archives of Australia as part of the Census Time Capsule.

By law, organisations like government departments and direct marketing companies cannot have access to personal information from the Census.

Confidentiality – the guarantee of the Act

All personal information collected in the 2011 Census will be kept confidential. The Census and Statistics Act 1905 guarantees this protection and legally binds all ABS staff (including temporary employees working during the Census) never to release personal information to any individual or organisation outside the ABS.

Section 19 of the Act makes it an offence for any past or present ABS officer to divulge, either directly or indirectly, any confidential information collected under this Act. The Act provides for heavy penalties (fines of up to $13,200 or imprisonment for 2 years or both) for anybody convicted of breaching this obligation - even if they are no longer employed by the ABS.

Security arrangements

Completed Census forms are transferred from collection centres to the Census Data Processing Centre under secure arrangements. Security personnel are employed to prevent any unauthorised access to the processing centre.

Comprehensive security arrangements are implemented on the ABS computer system. These include use of regularly changed passwords, access control and audit trails.

Keeping your Census responses confidential

The ABS also protects householders' privacy during the collection of the Census forms.

Householders who do not wish other members of the household to see their information may request a personal Census form.

Those who are concerned about the Census Collector seeing their form can ask for a privacy envelope or can complete the Census form online using the eCensus.

Householders who still have concerns can ask their Census Collector for a reply-paid mailback envelope to post their completed form directly to the ABS.

How does the ABS ensure my privacy?

The ABS has maintained an excellent record of upholding the privacy and confidentiality of all information provided to us throughout 100 years of operation.

All Census forms (including names and addresses) are destroyed after statistical processing has been completed. Paper is pulped and recycled.

ABS will only pass personally identified information to the National Archives of Australia for secure storage for 99 years for those people who have specifically consented to the ABS doing so as part of the Census Time Capsule.

How secure is the eCensus?

The eCensus is the electronic option for returning your Census form, which allows you to complete the Census via the Internet.

To ensure that your information is delivered to the ABS free of tampering, we use the strongest encryption technology that current browsers will support.

The eCensus data sent to the ABS via the Internet are not able to be read by anyone other than the ABS.

At the end of the Census, the hard disk drives used to store information will be thoroughly wiped under the supervision of the ABS to ensure there is no possibility of any Census data being accessed by any unauthorised person.

Is my information going to be provided to other government agencies, such as Centrelink or theTax Office?

No! The ABS is legally bound to protect the privacy of individuals and cannot give identifiable information to any third party.

Organisations outside the ABS will not be given data about an individual person or individual household. The confidentiality of your data is protected by the Census and Statistics Act 1905 and the Privacy Act 1988. Both these Acts ensure that data are not provided to anyone where those data can be used to identify an individual. All ABS staff, including temporary employees, are legally bound never to release personal information outside the ABS.

The ABS would never consider integrating the eCensus with any other system.

Personal privacy is paramount at the ABS. People can be confident that the ABS will keep their personal information secure - both that provided in paper Census forms and in the eCensus. The ABS has never released such information to any outside organisation, agency or project, and will never do so.

By law, organisations such as the Australian Tax Office, Centrelink and credit reference groups cannot have access to personal details from the Census.