Not taking part in the Census could cost you

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this year’s Census. Many objected to the census; retention of name and

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this year’s Census. Many objected to the census; retention of name and address information that when paired with all the information the census already collects about you could expose you to privacy risks.

Many said that they would not participate in the 2016 census because of these changes they could face a series of fines. The maximum penalty is a $180 fine but if you fail to fill in a few sections of the census forcing the Australian Bureau of Statistics to send follow-up directions you could see the fine increase significantly.

The vice-chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation, Kat Lane, said that the ABS needs to take back the changes because Australia would be “alarmed by this sneaky change to the way their personal information will now be stored”. They were not alone as many civil liberties groups called for a boycott of the census because of the perceived privacy violations.

A spokesperson for the ABS told The Guardian “Australians traditionally show strong support for the census and the need to enforce penalties is rare. The ABS prefers to seek the willing cooperation of respondents. However, it is sometimes necessary to use the legislative provisions, in order to maintain the integrity of ABS statistics.” They also feel that the Privacy Foundation’s assessment of the privacy concerns is flawed.

The ABS wants you to feel safe about your information that you supply saying that names and address will be removed from the data that is collected and stored in a different location. There are also reports that the data would be permanently deleted by August 2020 anyhow.

This leaves the question if the names and addresses collected are going to be separated from the census data and then deleted within four years, why collect it?

Are you going to be taking part in the census? What do you think about the fine? What is your feeling about the changes to how the collect data?

  1. Richard  

    ok? is the census collecting information on “the Home address” or on the population? if no one is at an address on that night, you are out camping? or on a sail boat at sea? do you get fined ? or is the census on each “person” regardless of where they are on the night?


    • Susan Bell  

      it is on each person regardless of where they are spending the night. Even the homeless are surveyed. My MIL, who believed the world was all about her, flew to Singapore to avoid the census, not that she had anything to hide.
      The census is a vital tool for future planning and the understanding of people’s needs.

  2. sally tyson  

    My concern is the census now being done online. Has any thought been given to people who do not have a computer or have cognitive impairment and are unable to understand how to apply for the paper version and ignore the letter ?

    • Anne  

      As I understand it, Sally, everyone will be getting a paper version and then they have a choice of completing it on line or completing and sending in the paper forms.

  3. J Taylor  

    Hopefully with the census being completed on line, the electoral dept will join the 21st century and allow people to vote online, with fewer people lining up outside polling booths. Results would be available quicker which also means more cost effective for the tax payer. Instead we have this farcical and 4 weeks later still counting.

  4. dee  

    So the census is 2 weeks away. Has anyone got their letter on how to apply for paper census? At the speed of the postal service I can’t see it happening in time.

  5. We are away overseas on that night so won’t be doing it. Hopefully we aren’t fined

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