APF’s Position on the 2021 Census

The APF has been buried in a large number of issues, and was unable to prioritise work on the Census during 2020-21. APF invested vast amounts of time in the lead-up to each of the ’06 (see here, here, and here for more information), ’11 (see here) and ’16 (see here and here) events. A full list of our submissions relating to the census can be found here. The impact we had was considerable in ’06, but has declined each time since.

The simple fact is that the ABS has long since abandoned its once exemplary stand on privacy. It has now positioned itself as the operator of a centralised database on the whole population, expropriating data from many government agencies, retaining all Census and Survey data in identified form, and consolidating it all into a single, dense record. The National Health Survey has been incorporated into the 2021 Census for randomly selected households.

APF’s 2011 Public Advisory Statement is behind on some technical matters, such as that the National Health Survey has been incorporated into the 2021 Census for randomly selected households, but a lot of what it says still holds, particularly this section on measures concerned people have taken. While APF may not advise or advocate for members of the public to take any specific measures, APF has heard of various approaches being taken by this year, including asking for a hard-copy, leaving it blank, and then either sending it in or leaving it on the front-doorstep for a door-to-door collector (in regions where those are going around – areas under lockdown may not have collectors.

People might also wish to read these two blogs posted regarding the 2016 census by Anna Johnston, a leading privacy consultant who was APF Chair at the time of the 2006 Census:
Why you might want to become a Jedi Knight for this year’s Census
Why I’m taking leave of my Census: a privacy expert’s reluctant boycott

2 thoughts on “APF’s Position on the 2021 Census

  1. Thank you for confirming your stance on the ABS operations and their Census. It is a perpetually worsening assault on the privacy of ordinary Australians, and a total disgrace for the governments that allow this to happen.

Comments are closed.