It’s about that time, friends. The Australian Census for 2021 is here. And while that news may cause you to utter responses like “bleughhhh” (sorry) and “do I have to?” (yes), the fact remains that this major survey is a huge operation that every Aussie has to get involved in.
If you’re feeling a little rusty when it comes to the Census (it does only come around once every five years), or have questions about how it will run in a pandemic-ridden 2021, here’s your guide.
What date will the 2021 Census be running?
First things first. Census night for 2021 is set for Tuesday, August 10. According to the government website, some households will receive paper forms by late July, and all households can expect to have received instructions on how to complete the Census by early August 2021.
This year will be running slightly differently – considering, y’know *gestures at everything* – and instead of having to complete the Census on Census night alone, you are able to fill out the form as soon as you receive your instructions.
Is the Census compulsory?
In a word: yes.
Though the Census, even in 2021, is receiving criticism for failing the LGBTQ+ community, it is something that each and every Australian is required to complete.
The survey is intended to count every household in Australia and should reflect every person in your household. If you’re wondering why that’s important, the Census website explains it this way:
“Having the right numbers means the right services can be provided in your community. Information from the Census helps communities, governments and businesses across the country make informed decisions.”
After Census night, households who have not filled out the form will be reminded and contacted by field staff regarding survey completion. Refusal to participate can lead to fines and a whole bunch of other nasty consequences. We did a whole write up on it here.
It’s worth noting, however, that the government has specified “We will never call, email or SMS you unsolicited for information about your Census form”.
How do I complete the 2021 Census if in lockdown?
While you can fill out the Census survey on paper, there is also an online version available. Most people are expected to take this route when filling out their data.
There are guides on how to do this on the Census website, but instructions will be sent your way before Census night date. Many of you will likely already have this information on hand at this point.
How about those who need assistance filling out the survey?
For anyone who may experience difficulty completing the Census alone, there are support services available.
2021 Census inclusive strategies director Georgia Chapman spoke with SBS on this, sharing that irrespective of lockdown restrictions, the team has added: “a number of strings to our bow in regards to alternative support”.
“We know face to face assistance is important to community groups and we’ve been preparing for what we would do in the event of a lockdown,” she told the outlet.
Guides are available in a number of different languages. Braille and large print or audio forms can be sourced, as can Australian Sign Language (Auslan) video guides and closed caption videos.
SBS also reports there will be virtual workshops run to help guide folks in gaining a clear understanding of the Census process, including Facebook Live sessions in different languages.
You can call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450 to find out more about completing the Census in your language.
Here is a full list of the accessible options for the 2021 Census.
Do you want to promote the Census within your community?
We have developed a range of resources you can use including fact sheets and videos.
— Australian Bureau of Statistics (@ABSStats) June 23, 2021
Got more questions about the Census? Here’s the FAQ section of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website which should help cover any other areas you’re unsure about.
This article on the 2021 Census date has been updated since its original publish date.