ABS responds to article "ABS must come to its census and show us its donga" by Bernard Salt (The Australian, 5 April 2012. page 29).

To the Editor, The Australian

Bernard Salt raises important issues with population measurement in his article "ABS must come to its census and show us its donga" (The Australian, 5 April 2012).

When planning and undertaking the five yearly Census of Population and Housing, ABS puts in place strategies and procedures to ensure that all dwellings, including temporary residential facilities such as hotels, hostels, work camps, etc., are included on Census night. Given the significant growth in mining related working populations years ABS developed specific strategies for the 2011 Census to ensure that people staying in mining related accommodation were counted. This specifically included fly-in fly-out and drive-in drive-out workers who were at those locations on Census night.

In responding to the Census question of where they usually live, many remote workers do not regard their donga as home. Neither do their partners, nor their other family members. They also do not usually provide the donga as an address for other official purposes such as the electoral roll or driver’s licence.

The ABS releases its census results on both a usual residence and place of enumeration basis. Donga residents will be included in the place of enumeration results along with characteristics of their dwellings.

The ABS will be exploring if it might be possible to ask all Australians to report their regular second or alternative residence in the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.

Peter Harper
Acting Australian Statistician
Australian Bureau of Statistics