... a blog of spirituality, events, and insights with an interfaith perspective
Thursday, 3 March 2016
The Australian Bureau of Statistics, the 2016 Census and the Religion Category
2016 Census and the Religion Category
The Census of Population and Housing provides a snapshot of Australia's people and their dwellings. It provides the basis for estimating Australia's population which is used to distribute government funds and plan services. The Census helps Australians understand who we are, where we live and how we are changing.
The first Census was held in 1911 and since 1961 they have been conducted every five years. Australia's seventeenth national Census of Population and Housing will be held on Tuesday, 9 August 2016.
The Australian Census continues to be one of the most comprehensive Censuses conducted anywhere in the world, with a long list of person and dwelling topics. A rigorous review and public consultation process of Census topics conducted by the ABS after the 2011 Census confirmed that there is strong support for each of the existing Census topics.
During the 2016 Census topic review process, the Religious affiliation topic generated a great deal of interest with a total of 444 submissions being received. The issues raised in the submissions were very similar with many recommending changes to the question due to perceived bias in the question format and consequent potential underestimates of the number of people who stated they had no religion.
After user consultation and testing, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has decided to move the No religion response category to be the first response category in the question, so it will be more consistent with other questions and the order of their response categories. This approach is consistent with that of a number of other countries.
Example of Question 19: What is the person's Religion? (2016 Census)
The information gathered from this question is used by religious organisations and government agencies to plan activities and community services, as well as distribute funding. A question on a person’s religion has been included in all Australian Censuses. Answering this question has always been optional, as is specified in the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Despite the optional nature of the question, approximately 90% of respondents provided an answer in the 2011 Census.
For more information on the 2016 Census click here.
Communication Team | Australian Bureau of Statistics