From Census to Surveillance

Forty years after the first attempts to de-anonymise the Australian census, in 2016 the government finally succeeded. This is the story of the forty year struggle against efforts to turn the Australian census from a population snapshot into cradle-to-grave surveillance and the public response.

Q2 If you have completed the Census, did you complete it online or by paper?

Throughout the census period there were campaigns encouraging people to complete the census in paper form rather than online. The benefits of hardcopy were that paper forms gave more control over how the respondent replied in terms of choosing to respond or not to specific questions and in removing from the paper form the unique code that was issued to each household for the purposes of tracking.

As a required question, the option of not having filled in the census was included. This has the benefit that the responses can be quoted out of context without losing the non-response rate.