Paul Lowe, Head of the Australian Population Census Program
speaks to our Multi-BUZZ editor


What is Census?
The Census aims to take a snapshot of Australia on Census night. It aims to accurately count the number of people in Australia, their key characteristics, and the dwellings in which they live.

The 16th Census of Population and Housing will take place tonight. It marks a significant milestone — 100 years of national Census taking in Australia. It is the biggest number collecting exercise in Australia that employs 43,000 community workers and reaches 9 million homes across Australia.

Can you outline the benefits of Census?
Census data supports planning, decision-making and funding at all levels of government, and is behind many of the services and facilities you use in your area every day. This includes roads, healthcare, transport, the environment and education.

Hospitals and aged care facilities are in the right locations to help the sick and elderly because of the Census. Schools and universities which allow our young to become world leaders in science, mathematics and statistics are built because of the Census. Our children play in parks, just moments from where they live because of accurate Census information.

What are your views on Census and Cultural Diversity?
Census also allows us to capture a full picture of Australia’s cultural diversity. The multicultural landscape of Australia is continually growing and evolving.  We know from 2006 data that Australians claim more than 250 ancestries and speak 400 languages at home. 22 per cent of the Australian population was born overseas.

eCensus, how does it work?
Everyone in Australia on Census night can complete the Census online using eCensus, a fast, easy and secure alternative to the traditional paper form. This Census, we’re encouraging households to use eCensus and we expect at least 30 per cent of the population will choose to complete their Census online.

Census 2011 spoke to Multicultural Australians…
Working with Multicall Connexions, we are running in-language press advertising in 36 different languages, and radio advertising in 68 different languages. We have audio visual material in over 14 languages, and information products, including posters, brochures and factsheets in 30 languages.

Community leaders and Census appointed Ambassadors in the communities all played a vital role. Ethnic Media leaders fully supported the Census 2011 program educating the communities about the importance of filling up accurately the Census forms.

The Census Inquiry Service Language Helpline offers assistance in 10 commonly spoken languages. Where the CIS is unable to assist the caller in their language they can set-up a three way conversation with the national Translating and Interpreting Service.

We have recruited bilingual Census Collectors in some locations, and are holding fill-in-the-form sessions where they’re most needed. These are just some of the strategies that help make us a world leader in Census taking and collating accurate population statistics.

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