The Australian Census Website Is Down

Tonight is Census night, on the first year that the majority of Australia is expected to complete the quadrennial count of our country's population online. The Australian Bureau of Statistics' servers were load-tested at 150 per cent of the expected usage levels, but despite that, a number of users are still having trouble loading the page.

According to the ABS, 16 million Australians — 65 per cent of the population, or over 6 million households — are expected to complete the Census entirely online. To do this, letters were sent to each Australian household with a unique twelve-digit code that allows a form to be completed online on the website. That website, at the moment, is not responding for some users as of 7:55PM tonight:

Update: As of 8:35PM, the Census website is still unresponsive: reports that the Census site is experiencing difficulties connecting to users.

Update: ABS has posted this update on Twitter acknowledging the outage:

Contracts have revealed that ABS spent more than $114,000 on load testing for the online Census:

Update: That's on top of a $325,000 charge for 'licenses for Census load testing', apparently. #CensusFail indeed.

Just a reminder: if you can't fill your Census form out tonight, you won't get fined. In fact, you have until September 23 to submit your household's Census details, so we suggest you try it again tomorrow, later in the week, or even next month.

Update: As of 11:00PM, the ABS has said that the Census website will remain down until some time tomorrow morning.

Time to give up, folks, and try again tomorrow. If you still want to.



    Just spent an hour completing the census for every person in the household. Go to submit, won't accept. Try to save and exit, won't accept that either. Suddenly tells me session has expired and all information has been lost. Can't access the website at all now. Thanks for wasting an hour of my time ABS, you jerkoffs

      join the club,i have had the exact same experience! an hour messing with this thing.

    Well was half way through the census and it crashed. People get paid high enough wages that this should be mitigated.

    Congratulation to Australian government to their first publicly organized DOS attack on their own server. Well done !!!

    You had one job, one job in 5 years....

      No they didn't, they had lots of jobs over the last 5 years this was simply one of them.

        yeah they had to sharpen their pencils for the upcoming count

      Lmao foreal tho...

    Well I can't lodge my 2016 Census as the site has taken a dive. Can't get through on the phone either as they are experiencing high volumes. So I sent an email via their website asking what to do. What a debacle! No I guess I just wait to see if I get a paper copy or fine.

    Everyone completes their census in the evening, and there are 24 million people in Australia... What could possibly go wrong??

    I just managed to get to the home page for the first time this evening, but now it's telling me it's too busy and to try again in 15 minutes.

    Last edited 09/08/16 8:46 pm

      Yep, my experience for the last two hours.

    It looks like there are two servers:

    $ wget
    --2016-08-09 20:38:09--
    Resolving (,
    Connecting to (||:80... failed: Connection timed out.
    Connecting to (||:80... connected.
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response...

      I checked out the IP addresses. Seems they're registered to IBM:-

      inetnum: -
      netname: IBMNET-TEMP
      descr: IBM Australia
      country: AU

      Maybe we should be throwing brickbats at them as well?

      While we're here, isn't it a US company, and did anyone get an answer back about US companies, Australian data and the US Patriot Act?

        IBM is a multinational company; it has a presence here. As well as servers.

        They are also one of the biggest and oldest names in the business.

        That being said, can you imagine how much worse it would have been if the Australian government tried to built the IT themselves? They couldn't organise an explosion in a dynamite factor let alone a distributed IT infrastructure to handle the census.

    I've tried to capture our census data. Almost half an hour later, when I clicked on save, I first had some 102 error, then a 101 error when I tried to cancel saving. Suffice it to say, I will have to capture everything again. These things do happen though - no sense in getting annoyed. It is the nature of the beast.

    in hindsight I wonder if it wouldn't have been a better idea to stagger the site's usage... if they had sent out a number of letters with the 9th of August on them, another number with the 10th, another number with the 11th, and so on. That way the site wouldn't have been overwhelmed - or at least the chance of it being overwhelmed would've been a bit less...

    Personal lesson learnt: Next time - wait a couple of days and don't jump in to get it done on the first day.

      In hindsight!?! If they had any clue of what they were doing it would have been obvious to stagger usage in the early planning stages. Apparently the same clowns that designed and deployed Ultranet also did this. Bloody amateurs.

      What do you mean "dont jump in and get it done" - If you didn't - you get fined !!!

      Total tossers the government and ABS !

    I am not from the ABS but from my understanding of listening to a rep on the radio today, you will not get fined for not doing the census today/tonight. As long as when you do complete it, you are reporting on 9th August and the form is complete, they allow for problems. I agree it's not a good reflection especially when they're saying they'll keep all the electronic information safe but don't panic about fines. Just try again tomorrow or the next day. The ABS rep on the radio I think said something about fines not being considered until September as they usually give people reminders.

    Spent an hour filling in all details for everyone in the house. Click the submit button and it won't accept. It does not save too. Says all information is lost. Abs is a bunch of idiots running census for millions of people on one night.

      1000% Agreed. It's predictable server will be down

    The census login site is inaccessible now. Would be nice it ABS would formally acknowledge the stuff up via a message on their contact help page. Why on earth would you encourage everyone to access it at the same time!!!! Hilarious.

    If you can’t be trusted to have a reliable website to collect census information, then how can you be trusted to competently secure and analyse the data? Unsatisfactory!

    Can't get any response to the Census site ... Been trying for an hour and half ... Am I supposed to stay up until midnight still trying or what??? No fine will be paid by me that's for sure!!!

    Everyone needs to chill out. If you look at the abs website you'll see that you have til September 23 to do the census. It just has to reflect your household as it is today. If people actually read instructions before having a meltdown there would be less of a panic going on.

      The first line in the letter sent out to every household reads- in bold letters- Please complete the census on Tuesday, 9 August 2016...... that's the instructions.... hence the panic

      yes i agree this is a problem but airing negative judgements should not be our first priority, firstly we are a diverse and well balanced country, secondly rome wasn't built in a day, thirdly we basically live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world where families are risking their lives and jumping overboard just to be a part of this amazing lifestyle and still people are complaining that internet overload is the worst thing to happen to them... seriously, take a breath and re-focus... just my thoughts btw i do NOT work for or have any involvement with Census 2016.


      Jackson. B.82
      I have read the only instruction sent to me. It says, "Please complete the Census on Tuesday. 9 August 2016". Pretty clear. No mention of having until November. Can not access any ABS sites!

        Do you have access to the internet? Just do a simple search on google and you'll find answers on what to do if you can't lodge the census form on Tuesday. People have become so brain dead that they can't go looking for information by themselves. They need it spoon fed to them.

      I don't think people are panicking, they're pissed off. The ABS has implemented unpopular changes to the forms and despite having a very easily determined traffic load for the evening, under prepared on the infrastructure to pull it off. Sure, people can fill it in later, but many have spent a good portion of their evening working on it already only to be told they need to follow up again because the ABS infrastructure can't cope. The threat of fines is just a cherry on top...a threat of fines for people not completing the form despite the ABS not being able to make it available at the time people were expected to complete it.

      You should read your letter. It clearly states "Please complete the Census on Tuesday, 9 August 2016"

      Ok - well "everyone needs to chill out" do they ?
      Have you actually looked at the green form that the ABS sent out to everyone ?
      It clearly says "Please complete the Census on Tuesday, 9 August 2016".
      Does it also say anywhere on the form that you can complete it by September 23 ??????
      So that is why people are going nuts over this, along with the fact that ABS have been putting out scare tactics such as people being fined 180 per day if you do not complete it.

      I would point out that the abs website has also been down most of the night, so that information was hard to find earlier :)

    Agghhh! Another cheapscate government stuff-up. What else can you expect from miserly and incompetent politicians? No vision, expedient planning, cheapest option; cheap system supplied by their rich mates at an uknown cost

    This is BS, have been spending 1 hr since I got home to login, unsuccessfully, & I have to and help my elderly parents do theirs. This is shit

    Well congratulation, after much fanfare about the requirement to complete the census online otherwise be fined...... No one can actually get on and complete it due to high volume, who knew?? Morons.

    I concur, well done ABS I hope you made a team of consultants rich in establishing that the entire population could log in to your site. Well played sir, well played

    omg I was going to do it when I got to the end it crashed and I can't login in anymore but fahh I better not be getting fined for this crap

    What happens now........can't down.......??????

    Typical of everything the govt handles and they tell us they will fine us. I hit save and exit to quickly duck out and when I returned oh guess what I cant access the site anymore lol

    This is an extract from the web site of the company the ABS paid for testing their web site.

    May need rewording tomorrow!

    To accommodate higher traffic levels, you need to have confidence your system can cope. Find out how these performance testing solutions let you analyse and prepare for all kinds of high-capacity scenarios.

    HPE Performance Centre

    Setting new standards in enterprise-level performance testing

    This test management framework reduces development costs in a range of ways: by shortening test cycles; by predicting application scalability and capacity; by testing new technologies together with legacy applications; by rapidly pinpointing stress testing issues; and much more.

      Yep, full of big newly made up words, which as we have just learnt have no meaning. Perhaps they sub-contracted it to the indians?

    What a complete joke the census 2016 turned out to be. Planned and designed for 1M/hour thats around 278 requests/sec assumed every completed form only required 1 request. Grossly underestimated what was required.

    My only concern is being an IT professional in a heavily regulated environment, people will start talking about not enforcing electronic voting, and etc for this reason.

    Many countries in the world have implemented electronic voting with a much larger population than this country of ours. The real issue is the laws and regulation Australia have namely, national archives act and privacy act, these laws essentially eliminates every possibility of using AWS or Azure who can adequately handle such traffic (architecture design aside).

    IBM, who claims they can do anything grossly malfunctioned. Never believe in an IBM product, and their sales team. This is a note to all!

      There are far more important reasons than server overload as to why online voting is a bad idea (and the countries that have implemented it have not solved these problems):

    just tried to complete census form got to the last page and site timed out. Wasted an hour. Trust the government to handle this. I don't think so.

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