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Get ready for Census 2016

At 81-years of age, Robin Newman has been counted in 14 Censuses, worked on the last eight and is looking forward to working again on this year’s digital-first Census 2016.

The great-grandmother from the small rural town of Cubballing in Western Australia, signed up to work on the Census in 1981 when farming was going through a rough patch. In 2016, it’s her sense of civic duty that compels her to play a role in the country’s largest peacetime logistical operation.

“The whole process has changed quite a lot in my time, but I still enjoy the community spirit and general contact with people and it’s good to keep my hand in with the challenges of planning, recruiting and training Census Field Officers,” says Robin.

“I also love working with the computer and internet, so I’ve enjoyed the challenge of upgrading to the digital system. This year I’m showing my grand kids how to complete the Census on their smartphones and tablets which has been interesting for us all.

Robin Census 2016

“When I first applied for the position of Group Leader there were no mobile phones and very few computers. Now I do a lot of my training online and we’re always connected by mobile phone or internet to our District Manager when we’re out in the field.”

It’s a vastly different process to Australia’s first census in 1911, when the Census population count was just under 4.5 million and Census Collectors often travelled by horseback and sometimes even camel.

105-years later, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is preparing to conduct the 17th national Census on Tuesday August 9, and take a statistical snapshot of a remarkably larger and different country.

Right now Australia’s population is estimated to be over 24 million, with 10 million private dwellings comprised of people that come from more than 200 countries, speak over 300 languages and belong to over 100 religious groups.

Further to that, up to 39,000 field staff will be armed with laptops, tablets and smartphones to assist more than two-thirds of respondents that are expected to complete the Census online, making it the largest digital event in Australia’s history.

How to complete your Census 2016 online

From August 1 , the majority of households across the country will receive a letter from the ABS, addressed ‘To the Resident’ with a unique login code and instructions on how to complete the Census online.

How to request a Census 2016 paper form

This letter will also include a phone number to call for those people who can’t complete the Census online or wish to complete a paper form. This number is an automated phone service which will ask you to punch in your unique code and then a form will be delivered by priority mail to you. Residents who would like to request a paper form before 1st August, can call the Census Paper Form Request Line on 1300 820 275. If you have any questions about this years’ census, call the Census Enquiry Line on 1300 214 531.

The digital-first approach of the 2016 Census is expected to save 327 tonnes of paper material, 230,000 kilometres of travel and $100 million of taxpayer funds.

Tell us what you’ll be up to on Census Night! Are you happy to complete your Census online?


About the author

Alana Lowes


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  • I will complete the census online as I think with today’s technology it is definitely a step in the right direction. I hope the site can cope with everybody logging in on the 9th!
    As for what I will be doing on the night, probably just watching TV!

  • My household will complete the census form on-line. It will be interesting to see how and if it works. Will the site cope? In any census I suppose there are always people who will not be counted e.g. homeless, people in transit perhaps?