The Australian Census Website Is Down

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 !!!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • I’m sending a bill to ABS for $180 per day until I can complete my Census form online. #absjerkoffs

  • I work 10 hour days get home at 8pm at night and try to do the right thing and complete the census. I have been trying since 8pm to get on and I still can’t. All I can say is they better not try to fine me because I need to go to bed soon so I can get up at 5.30am and do it all again tomorrow.

  • Likewise I had completed my entire census and hit submit, which also timed out after trying to load and it did not happen. I’m advised the website is down and I honestly can not be bothered re-entering all this information again if and when its up and running. I have done the right thing, they can stuff their census up their backside. Knowing that the entire population was completing this on-line they should have ensured that their systems could cater to it.

  • Tonight the Australian Government has released the largest internet fraud ever. Fine everyone for not completing the census. Well Done.

  • Emigrated from one but still living under a 3rd world government!!

  • went in no problemo, submitted no problemo… now, let’s get back to blaming and flaming!

    • Bee trying since 8:00pm, it is now nearly 10.00pm. Cannot log on so don’t know how you did, or did not get in? Could be location but I am on direct NBN fiber to the home, QLD, 4303.

    • Congratulations, but your experience is in the minority.

      I’m a lot calmer now that I’ve found I have until September but I keep getting told to come back later.

  • Welcome to today’s IT, provided on the cheap while 10s of thousands of competent IT workers can’t get a job. Where technical decisions are made by listening to sales people and ignoring the few technicians left.Did anybody really think this wasn’t going to be a fiasco.

  • Bwahahaha but the clowns in the suits reassured us sheep that everything was going to be fine .. I expect no better everything governments touch they stuff up .how about we have a revolution instead of a census and get rid of these overpaid ,freeloading parasites! cant wait for the excuses

  • I had an IT job interview 4 years back at abs, and I failed. Now I am glad I did not join the Dept, what a crap, someone should be sent to the Court

  • I need to know if we are going to get fined for not completing the census on the designated day (9th August) why did the website crash and why can’t we get through on the 1300 214 531 number? Just not good enough we pay way too much in taxes for this inadequate service. Our Government is a joke!! Very unhappy customer.

  • What a joke the site does not load how can I fill out this stupid census you idiots,if you think I’am going to pay a fine that will NOT HAPPEN

  • Welcome to the future.
    The power of innovation will make our nation strong.
    We can always pivot if it doesn’t work out, fail often and fail early.
    Oh forgot, we only get one shot at this every five years …

  • Kept on trying for the last 4 hours, I gave up. Our politicians can’t keep a stable government how the hell can they get a simple website to work. I’m going to do it by paper, the old school way! Modern government and technology don’t work!

  • Don’t you just love Technology these days, Give me paper any day. What were the Government thinking or do they ever think. How stupid overloading the Internet. It will never work. Go back to the olden days where there we never had any problems.

  • What a joke ABS. 2.5hrs and still not online for census. If you think I’m paying a fine your sadly mistaken. Geez blind Freddy could see this coming.

  • Anybody from a web background could have advised the government that the servers were never every going to stay up long enough to allow 7 million households to lodge form data across such a short period of time. You only have to look at the most recent events of single day special buy sites to know this was going to be a disaster. Click Frenzy here in Australia, Singles day from Alibaba, Black Friday in the US. All have experienced some sort of server issues when you try to push millions of people into a customer lodgement database all at the same time. It will crash pure and simple. Looking at some of these shopping events they have learnt that you just cannot do this across a single day and you must spread these events across several days up to at lease a week to allow for maximum up time for servers. This is very basic computer science stuff here OZ government. A 12 year old on YouTube would have advised don’t do this. Shit, even an independent Senator with no computer background even knew this would happen. If you ever decide to run the Census online again, call me first and I will be glad to advise you for $200K what would be the best solution for your Census, which is still about $150K less then the load testing contracts that you already had in place for this Census. This is not one of the processes I would have suggested.

  • This is Bullshit. Like people don’t have anything else to do than try to log in to a website. Spent 2 hours already. gotta help my parents too, they falling asleep. They are 85. We are all PISSED OFF!!!!!!!!!! GOV GET BENT!!!!!!

  • i have been trying for the last two hours to onto the census site with no luck what so ever. i think it is time for a drink. i hope i dont get a fine as that will be an interesting conversation.

  • if this is as good as the internet is here in Australia Cheryl I’m getting back on my leaky boat and going home.

  • I ain’t got time to sit up & wait for there stuff ups, I have work tomorrow, give me paper any day go back to the old way. Can’t trust Technology, this is bloody ridiculous.

  • Same story cannot complete the census form what a waste of time and tax payers money. People that cannot do their job properly should be fired. The people have been let down once again.

  • Have been trying for last hour to log on with no luck, not surprised with everyone having to complete census today of course the site crashed. Common sense, interesting how they are going to fine people for being late ???? A lot of disgruntle people I would expect, just saying!!!

  • Did mine at 5.00pm Perth time and it worked fine for me… no problems at all, and only took about 20 minutes for the two of us.

    It had crashed around the 7.00pm – 8.30pm Perth time but as of 9.10pm its back up and appears to be working fine.

    Yeah I’m a spoil sport…

    Oh, and there’s no stress. You have up to 6 weeks to get it done. It doesn’t *have* to be tonight. The only thing you have to do is base your answers on your SITUATION and LOCATION of August 9th. So, if you get a pay rise tomorrow or get married etc then still enter your old information…

    • I wish I’d thought to do it sooner, by the time I got round to it all the sites where down. I think that’s the Majority of peoples experience.

      Yes we have six weeks to do it, I found that out tonight it’s not mentioned on the form. I also remember them promising this would work perfectly.

      Also read the update from 10 minutes before you posted: Update: As of 11:00PM, the ABS has said that the Census website will remain down until some time tomorrow morning.

  • I guess every second person could have predicted that with several million people attempting to access and post on a site within a limited time frame it would crash. Duh!! So much for a census that tells us what all Aussies are doing on one particular date. Back to the door knocking?? I feel so sorry for folks who completed, couldn’t submit and lost the lot. I’ve only been checking out the site at intervals since 5.00 p.m. So nice to know that the ABS is not going to fine us “tonight”. Perhaps they should recoup their money from the IT company who operated more on hope than skill. What an embarrassing mess.

  • Did mine Monday…no problems! From the website-“Can I complete the Census before or after 9 August?

    The Census needs to be completed in relation to Census night, but can be completed in the days leading up to or following Tuesday 9 August.

    If you forget, we will remind you to complete the Census after 9 August. You will not be fined if you complete the Census after Census night.”

  • Having attempted to access the Government Census site on numerous occasions, without the success. And now, the site outage, I see a GOOD reason to return to the old ‘tried and true’ method of bygone days. Return>to real, recycled PAPER. Furthermore, the ‘old way’ gave employment to people who wanted to work, on a casual basis.
    I have better things to do than sit at my PC, attempting to load up the Census site, like sleep!

  • ABS has the stats. have they been using them? If so, census night would not have been a problem!

  • Who made the decision about penalty for NOT completing the census 2016 on time? This had outraged me, and may be a lot of people. I believe there should be a way to persuade people to complete the census on time rather than PENALTY.

  • We are not able to complete our online census due to site unavailable.We also tried last night with same issue….Our address..14 Northcott Rd Lalor Park 2147.

  • No issues for me when I was filling it in online last night for myself and my wife. Although I’m not surprised that eventually there was too much traffic for the site to handle.

  • It doesn’t *have* to be tonight.

    Which is great. Now if only the letter they sent to each household had stated that. And not “Please complete the census on August 9” with no mention anywhere on the letter that it can be done either side of that date.

  • We are we all so surprised, firstly they expect elderly people to have to phone up to get the forms, they should have been available at the local post office!!! My Mother in her mid ’80’s living the country, no computer or mobile phone, was clever enough to phone the day she received the log in letter and got through easily, she also completed the form last Sunday as every day for her is the same………hat’s off mum 🙂
    And of course anyone in business would realise if you are asking millions of people to log into your website on the same day it’s bound to crash.
    We understand a paperless world, however wouldn’t it have made common sense to do this over say a 7 day period so long as the answers were relating to a 24hour period?

  • You were lucky to get in at all in WA most of us do not have NBN and not likely to for several years. As far as I am concerned they can come to me now and bring me a form to fill in. Unable to phone for paper submission as phones are engaged 24/7 and I have better things to do than be jerked off by the Federal Govt, who couldn’t organise a booze up in a brewery. Plus I hear now the site was also hacked. Security … Wot Security Duh.. Exits left :).

  • OK …. So if I’m understanding right … the ABS lied (or misrepresented the truth) to Australians – either when they said it was a technical issue or when they said it was “DNS-hacked” – either one is correct and one is a lie or one is a lie and the other is correct….if I understand right ????? But no,w further, a “census official” on ABC24 at approx. 15:35 said “DSD” were working with the ABS ……. So just wondering how we all feel knowing that the Defence Department is “involved” with the census ….. will that help us “sleep soundly” tonight ??? …. again I just want to repeat those words “the Defence Department is “involved” with the census” …..

  • Simple problem statement “I want my website to scale on demand at this time”. Simple solution: Use AWS to remove the headaches of doing that.

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