Australian Coastal Councils Association Inc.

Delegates at the Australian Coastal Councils Conference at Cape Schanck adopted a Communiqué calling on the Australian Government “to retain the National Census in its existing form to ensure Australia’s councils have access to detailed demographic data which is essential for the future planning and resourcing of their communities.” The Communiqué was issued in response to a proposal to scrap the Census in its existing form and replace it with a smaller sample survey. The Communiqué states the delegates are “particularly concerned that the loss of small area data, which is currently collected in the Census, will significantly affect the capacity of regional councils to track the increase in demand for community services and facilities that is experienced in most coastal communities.” Apart from sending the Communiqué to Kelly O’Dwyer MP, the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Taskforce Committee of Management is inviting individual coastal councils to forward the document to their local Federal Members together with a letter of support. The national Census was introduced in 1911 and has since been used to survey all households in Australia at five yearly intervals, providing comprehensive information about where Australians live, their place of birth, the composition of their families and the sort of work they do. David Kalisch, the head of the ABS, said the bureau is committed to the Census, however “the Census in its current form only provides a snapshot of Australia on one day every five years and it takes some time for key information to be released after Census night.” He said the ABS had been considering options for transforming its population statistics for some time, with the aim of “producing data on the economic and social conditions of Australians more frequently and in a more timely manner.” The Census is a requirement under Section 24 of the Australian Constitution and is the prime source of data used to determine the number of parliamentary representatives and the formation of electorates. The ABS is required by law to conduct the census every five years, so any change would require legislation. The 2011 Australian census cost $440 million and the 2016 census was expected to cost even more as a result of technology upgrades needed to process a significant increase in the number of on-line lodgements. Professor Peter McDonald, a demographer at the Australian National University, said the Census collects data that is beyond the capability of sample surveys. “It can track what is happening to comparatively small groups of people which can’t be picked up by smaller surveys,” he said. “The biggest loss would be information on regional populations.” Read the Communiqué Communique – 2015 Australian Coastal Councils Conference

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