Tonight in Australia is Census Night. We'll be answering questions on where we come from, how we get to work, whether we have a religion, and how much money we earn. It is our opportunity to be part of a five-yearly picture of what it looks like to be an Australian.
This information helps our government plan for services like aged-care facilities, schools, child-care centres, housing developments, transport and parks. All really important stuff. But the census has another role too - it tells us what it is like to be a family in Australia in 2011. The answers to the 60 questions on tonight's form will tell us who people live with, how they go to work, how much unpaid domestic work they do and whether they care for kids - or other adults. They will tell us what people really do at work, and how many hours they spend there. They will tell us if they have a religion.
Did you know that for 100 years Australia has not kept a census after it has been statistically analysed? Seven generations of Australian history gone forever. Finally this year, The Australian Bureau of Statistics are giving us the option of having our census papers kept for posterity. They will be available for release in 99 years. But only if you say yes to Question 60 (Household Form) and Question 54 (Personal Form).
And so I'm asking you to help future researchers by doing just that. Saying yes. But I'm going to remind you to do one further thing as well, and that is to photocopy your census for the use of your family. Don't you think it will be interesting to look back on your answers to these questions in five years? Or ten? Or forty? Don't you think it will be interesting to see how long Daddy spent at work in 2011, and how long Mummy spent keeping home? The information contained in tonight's census is important to us as Australians, but it is also important to us as a family.
These historical records contain so much precious genealogical information. Don't let your family's history be lost.
Not even for 99 years.