2016 Census - ANU experts weigh into debate

 There has been controversy with the 2016 Census. Image: Charlie Brewer, Flickr.
There has been controversy with the 2016 Census. Image: Charlie Brewer, Flickr.
Friday 5 August 2016

On Tuesday 9 August Australians will complete their forms for the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. Concerns have been raised as The Australian Bureau of Statistics will for the first time retain names and addresses.

A number of ANU experts have given their opinion relating to the controvery surrounding the 2016 Census.

Dr Liz Allen
Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research

"Privacy fears over data linkage and longer retention of names and addresses as part of Census 2016 are understandable, but are misinformed and exaggerated. Census is a fundamental part of modern government, and is the only way to assess social wellbeing and understand the composition and geographic location of the Australian population."

Dr Jill Sheppard
ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

"People have expressed two broad, understandable concerns about this year's Census: the security of the information, and the potential for government overreach. While researchers like me who have a vested interest in the reliability of Census data will plead with people to set aside their concerns, there is more at stake than just our research interests.

"Comprehensive and reliable Census data are vital for the provision of public services such as education, health funding, and policies to redress entrenched inequalities."

Emeritus Professor John Warhurst
School of Politics & International Relations
Research School of Social Sciences
ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

"All census results have a political impact. For instance, the religion results will feature in debates about support for church schools and other secular/religious issues."

Emeritus Professor Terence H. Hull
School of Demography

"The recent wrong-headed arguments that the census question on name would violate privacy is bizarre in the extreme. The fact that a former Government Statistician could be making the argument compounds the confusion.

"The issues are remarkably clear. On the one hand the legal framework organising the census provides very strong protection for individuals for whom confidentiality of residence and identity is of concern.

"By contrast thousands of private and public data bases accessible online give no such protection. On the other hand the value of the regular collection of national population characteristics for anonymised tabulation and processing is vital for the creation of foundational evidence for fair, accurate and beneficial government policy."

Associate Professor Ben Phillips
ANU Centre for Social Research & Methods
ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

"The ABS Census is an important source of information for research and planning for a healthier, more educated and more efficient Australia. The ABS is making a number of enhancements to this year's census that will greatly improve the value of the census to researchers, policy makers, business and planners alike."

Dr Nicholas Biddle
Acting Director, ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods

"Censuses are as old as governments and bureaucracies. However, their purpose and methodology changes through time with new technology, new policy questions and new social attitudes.

"The 2016 Census sees the ABS attempting to undertake a modern, 21st Century collection. But, this requires trust in the institution, and trust in government in general."

Amina Keygan
PhD Candidate
ANU School of Demography

"Accurate census data is vitally important to a range of planning and policy decisions that make our lives in Australia easier. It informs policies that address education, social welfare and health.

"Australia's Census is world renowned for its accuracy, in-depth data and security protocols. Frantic calls by those to boycott the Census are doing their communities a disservice."



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Updated:  5 August 2016/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications