Australian Bureau of Statistics announces new population survey

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is planning a new Australian Population Survey with the capacity for continuous updates on regional population statistics. Data collected in the survey will be used to supplement data collected in the Census.

The survey will provide a mechanism for more effectively using Census and administrative data to provide ongoing and dynamic information on regions across Australia – including where people live at different times of the year and their characteristics. 

The Australian Coastal Councils Association has been invited to make input into the development of the survey, which is currently underway.

News of the survey emerged after the ABS released details of the topics, questions and processes for the next Census, to be held on Tuesday 9 August 2016. Australian Statistician David Kalisch said the 2016 Census will remain one of the most comprehensive Censuses in the world with 45 topics. “The ABS appreciates submissions received from interested parties about the retention of topics and new topics for inclusion in the 2016 and future Censuses,” he said.

“To maintain important time series information and to ensure the 2016 Census can be delivered within allocated funding, 2016 Census topics will be the same as in the previous two Censuses, with minor changes to enhance some Census questions,” Mr Kalisch said.

Barry Sammels, Chair of the Australian Coastal Councils Association, said it was disappointing to learn the 2016 Census will not include a proposed new question on the ownership and use of second residences. He said the Census is conducted mid-week in winter and therefore does not capture data on the large number of visitors and absentee property owners who are in coastal areas at other times of the year.

“This results in the permanent populations in many coastal areas being understated which has a significant impact on planning and funding for infrastructure and services in coastal communities,” Barry Sammels said.

“Research conducted for our Association by the University of Adelaide found the fluctuation between coastal populations in mid-winter and at other times of the year can be as high as 30%. But because the permanent population figures are based on the lower mid-winter figures it means coastal councils and communities are missing out on a fair share of financial assistance grants and other resources.”

Barry Sammels said the Association looks forward to working with senior ABS officers to develop the new population survey. “Our aim will be to ensure that the new survey captures regional population data that provides a more realistic picture of population levels in Australia’s coastal communities,” he said.