Today, every Australian will be asked to take some time to complete the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the aim of the Census is to collect accurate data on the key characteristics of the people in Australia on Census night and information about the dwellings in which they live.
To conduct this year’s survey, 13.5 million letters were mailed out to households and establishments across Australia. As the first digitally-focussed survey, respondents will be able to complete the questions online.
Around 10 million households and approximately 24 million people will be counted during the survey which will result in around 3 trillion cells of data being collected.
This year’s Census is expected to confirm predictions made by the ABS that the population of the greater Sydney will hit an historic milestone of five million residents.
By next month, almost one in five Australians will call the New South Wales capital home and the current population growth of the city shows no signs of slowing down. Over the past five years, the equivalent of the combined populations of Hobart and Darwin has relocated to the city and around 1,600 new residents arrive within the city every week.
26 per cent of Sydney’s growth has occurred in the cities south west, with suburbs such as Potts Hill, Oran Park, Catherine Field, Leppington, Cobbitty, Wentworth Point, Silverwater, Newington, Kellyville Ridge and Stanhope Gardens named as growing areas.
The Head of Census 2016 recently told SBS that the Census allows everyone to play a role in shaping Australia’s future.
“The Census is critical in Australia to helping the government make good decisions,” he said.
Census data is used by a variety of government organisations to understand social and cultural needs as well as to help plan infrastructure required for roads, transport, health and education.
Changes in population provide crucial markers to detect which areas require these services and where new housing projects are required.
Failure or refusal to answer a question within the Census could be considered an offence under the Census and Statistics Act 1905. While the maximum penalty is a $180 fine, a person could receive a series of directions relating to completing a single census form, potentially increasing the fine.