9 Aug 2011

Your vital statistics

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.


  1. We looked at the census in school this afternoon. I wish you were our teacher - your explanations are far more passionate than mine!
    Oh, and you get to only fill in for one, I have to do nine!

  2. My view of history is, I'm afraid, very different to yours. The census form drives me nuts; it's just numbers. On the other hand I nearly wept when mum went through dad's things & burnt his letters to her. That's the sort of history that's irreplacable ~ but her history & her right. I am not very interested in the sort of questions governments ask. They don't tell you how people think or why they think as they do ~ which are the interesting questions. Why do you believe ~ or not? as the case may be. Why is your family structured this way but not that way? I'm afraid I ask the really nosey questions & am far less interested in downright facts. Children care far less how many hours daddy works than that he's gone from home & whether he has time for them when he does come home. I'd rather read someone's correspondence about life now than some dull form that in reality tells me very little about what it is like to live in our day & age.

    I have, a most treasured possession, the book my aunt wrote about a 100 yr old Queenslander she lived in & made a garden for & it is fascinating! Vert little stastitcs. My aunt didn't do numbers either. ☺

    Now, do I count the boys, who are most definitely members of the family?! lol Um, ok...

  3. Thank you for this...I haven't even thought about the census as a legacy! xxx


I'd love you to leave me a message. Tell me what you like - and what you don't. Just remember that this is what we do in our family - it doesn't have to be what you do in yours...