Is the Census Compulsory in Australia? All of Your 2021 Census Questions, Answered

census 2021 australia

Census day 2021 is finally here in Australia and we can just feel the excitement in the air. Today, millions of people turn to paper or digital forms to tell the government everything they want to know about us in the national people muster.

The 2021 Australian census is run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics who are hoping to avoid the disaster of the 2016 census in which many people were locked out of the online system and couldn’t provide their answers.

All Australian’s are required by law to take part and the data is used by the government to guide future policy decisions. Despite the difficulties of COVID, the government is hoping it will be able to run a smooth operation this time around and get an accurate picture of what Australia in 2021 looks like.

The census includes a range of questions across 10 topic areas — with two new questions being asked this year and one being dropped — and can currently be filled out right now.

Here are all of the details on the 2021 Australian census.

When is the 2021 Census in Australia?

The national survey kicks off on August 10.

That date is like Christmas for statisticians but even better as it only happens once every five years.

August 10 is known inventively as ‘census night’ which is typically the day that all of the information is gathered. However, this year, you will be able to do the census before and after this date.

Traditionally, census takers would go around to a proportion of houses across the country to gather information on those who live there and then extrapolate that data to get an understanding of the whole country.

Now, while census takers are still a big part of the process, much of it is online or via a physical form.

By late July for regional areas, and early August for metropolitan, your household should have received a survey form and instructions on how to complete it.

That form has to be filled out — either online or physically — on or by August 10.

Households who do not respond will start to receive letters or visits from census takers. This will continue throughout August until all the forms have been completed.

Is the Census Compulsory in Australia?

Much like death and taxes, the census is inevitable. You or someone in your household will have to do it — even if you’re just a visitor or a baby — or you can face a fine.

If you don’t complete it, the ABS will get in touch with a sternly worded letter and you could be fined up to $222 per day for an incomplete census.

So, better get scribbling!

How Do You Complete the Census?

This year the census can be completed as soon as you receive your instructions — as long as you know who will be home on census night.

You can fill in your form online, on paper, or with help from the ABS if you have a disability that makes filling out the census difficult.

The census gathers data per household so not everyone in your house will have to do it. It does however ask questions about everyone in the household on census night, and some questions on people who would normally be there but are away.

Anyone who has privacy concerns, or who simply wants to complete their own census for the sheer white-knuckle thrill of it, can request a separate online or paper form.

Census staff will be working in remote communities on census night They are conducting face to face interviews with people there between July and August 2021.

The information you’ll need includes the following:

  • Address
  • Household information
  • Personal information
  • Cultural background
  • Care and health information
  • Education information
  • Paid and unpaid work information
  • Personal information of people who are away
  • Dwellings and housing information

It shouldnt take more than 20-30 minutes to complete. Historically, people often use the census as an opportunity for hilarious, data-based jokes or political statements but doing so can get you into trouble so maybe just play it straight.

What Will the Census Ask Me About?

Essentially, it will ask you questions about your name, age, marital status, relationship status with other household members, your date of birth, your country of birth, how many languages you speak, what level of education you have, and how much you make.

Census data is only used to produce statistics or for research purposes. It can’t be used to identify you or anyone from your household.

The ABS is also providing help for travellers and anyone sleeping rough.

They have partnered with non-profits working in the homelessness sector, stating, “We are partnering with people who are in the homelessness sector to make sure that people without homes can access and complete the census too.”

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