What does the 2016 Census mean to Australians?
The ABS 2016 Census might be a pain for you but it’s gold for us.
Many of us may perceive it as a chore, a hassle or a burden. However, to us data analysts, it’s a dream come true! Accurate, comprehensive, and freely available data on Australia and its people? Christmas has come early (on 9 August 2016 to be precise).
Regardless of how we perceive the 2016 Census, there is no doubt that it significantly impacts our agency, and every other Australian out there (data nerd or not). Considering its sole purpose is to measure the population across states and to quantify aspects of our lifestyle from what we do to how we live, the 2016 Census is actually an incredibly powerful tool.
To exemplify, consider for a moment – how does the Australian Government organise free education or a public health system? Or if the burden was on your shoulders, where would you even begin? Why, the Census of course! Census data is used to inform and optimise public policy and distribute public funds. Metrics that it measures, such as population density and socioeconomic status of particular areas, will decipher if we need to build a new hospital here and what specialised services will they require, or if that school potentially needs more teachers in 2 years.
All the necessities of life that the Australian Government upholds (think housing, transport, education, health care) has laid its foundations in the results of the Census, and these results influence public decisions, and shapes our understanding of the Australian audience for the next four years.
From a media perspective, having an understanding of the Australian population and our way of life helps us understand and communicate to our audience. This set of data provides a platform where we can begin contemplating our strategy, media design, targeting, messaging and optimisation plans. We can ponder and debate over the importance of content and creative to the nth degree – but it is co-dependent on who is on the receiving end. And to understand the receiver, there is no better or more comprehensive or accurate place to start than the Census.
Thus, to answer my first question – what does the 2016 Census mean to Australians?
And how is the ABS is keeping up with the ongoing and exponentially growing digital revolution would you ask?
On an autumn Monday, 105 years ago, in April 1911, hundreds of census collectors started to collect the paper forms for the Australia’s first national census. On bikes, horses or mostly by foot, the journey began for the luckiest in the wealthy suburbs of Sydney, and for the more adventurous in the flooded landscape of Queensland or the hundreds of miles of the arid and inhospitable outback. Back in those days, the Australia population was about the population of Sydney as we know it today.
Since that first Nationwide statistical adventure, things have changed. For the first time in Australian history, more than 15 million people (62.5% of the population) will be invited to complete the Census online. It means a faster, easier and environmentally friendlier process. So what does this look like?
• 327 tonnes of less paper
• 230,000 less kilometres to travel. (More than 5 times the circumference of the Earth)
• A consumption of ink reduced to 3,800 kilograms and 16,000 litres of glue to produce and ship paper forms
In order to contribute to make the 2016 Census a success, you will receive early August a letter from the Australian Bureau of Statistics addressed ‘To the Resident’. Don’t throw it away. It isn’t another Real Estate agent trying to buy your house, it’s a login and instructions on how to complete the Census online.
More details and hidden facts available on the official ABS website here.
This post was brought to you by Mandy Chung & Ben Petremont from the Analytics Team at Match Media.