26 September 2023

New Census report comes with lessons

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Stories of innovation within the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) are highlighted in a new report on the 2021 Census.

Releasing the report Delivering the 2021 Census on the first-year anniversary of the 18th Australian Census of Population and Housing, Australian Statistician David Gruen said it shared stories of innovation and placed them into the history.

Dr Gruen said both a snapshot of the ‘pandemic’ Census and a learning resource for the ABS’s public and private sector stakeholders covered a range of topics, from privacy and security to customer experience and community engagement.

“Each shows significant innovation leading to success,” Dr Gruen said.

“We achieved a 96.1 per cent response rate for private dwellings – an outstanding achievement given the challenges provided by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“The ABS approached the 2021 Census with a renewed focus on security and privacy and transitioned to scalable and secure cloud-hosted technology.”

Dr Gruen said the Report revealed the success stories that emerged from user-centred design, communication and engagement strategies, including early completion and improved accessibility.

He said Delivering the 2021 Census also told the story of delivering a Census during a global pandemic.

“The ABS developed a COVID-19 safe plan to confidently adapt to the logistical and operational challenges caused by the pandemic while also prioritising the health and safety of staff and the community,” the Australian Statistician said.

“The 2021 Census cost just over $565 million,” he said.

“At just over $22 per person counted this is as cost efficient as any previous Australian Census and other countries that run a similar Census model.”

Dr Gruen said an independent report, published in August 2019, found the benefits of the Census substantially outweighed its cost, finding that for every $1 invested in the Census, $6 of value was generated to the Australian economy.

The ABS’s new Delivering the 2021 Census report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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