On August 9th, Australia will once again be conducting its nationwide survey, aimed at re-assessing how much this young nation has progressed.
The Census is conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) every five years, aimed to accurately “count the number of people in Australia, their key characteristics, and the dwellings in which they live”. Every household will be required to answer specific questions through a hard copy form or via an electronic version online.
Collecting this information is vital to understanding the foundations of how communities are built, where community services and facilities are created, how infrastructure is planned, and importantly, how the populous is catered for.
For some, the Census results ensure the needs of their communities are being recognised. For example, results from the survey helps determine where schools, roads, and hospitals are needed. For others, the Census results are essentially neglected, particularly where inaccurate information is given about the participant’s ethnicity, or more importantly, their religion. These communities have a substantial fear of releasing sensitive information, and lack an understanding as to why their personal information is collected, and how it is stored.
Many argue that there is less attention paid to Muslim communities among the diverse Australian landscape, but what if we are pointing fingers at the wrong people? Perhaps these questions should first be addressed to ourselves as individuals?
Until recently, many Muslims have paid less attention towards actively engaging themselves in the political system, remaining dormant on local issues that may have an immediate effect on their own small communities. Australian Islamic Voice (AIV) has campaigned across the St George area over the last few years to help Muslims, young and old, with the aim of educating and raising awareness about how vital their voice is in ensuring their needs are publicly recognised as a collective voice. Through the 2011 Census, AIV now aims to dispel the myths about Muslim censorship, and raise awareness about the importance of Muslim participation in the largest national survey
According to the 2006 census, there are currently 340, 000 Muslims in Australia, 128, 904 of that total population are born in Australia. Over that last decade (1996-2006) there was a 69.4% change in Muslim identification in Australia. However, according to many academics and religious scholars, the number of Muslims in Australia supersedes this statistic by a significant amount.
It is therefore essential that as individuals, we take the first step and participate in the 2011 Census, ensuring our religious identity is captured, so that as a community our needs are also recognised, our concerns are addressed by the right people, and our voice is heard by the democratic representatives of our nation.
Come August 9, engage yourself and your family towards promoting a greater diverse nation by supporting your own community and making your identity recognised and celebrated. Be sure to mark your religion as “Islam” and ensure you’re more than just a number in this country.
340 000 Muslims
Watching your community grow? Priceless
Common myths and misconceptions about the Census
Who has access to my personal information?
The personal information you provide in your Census form remains confidential to the ABS. No information will be released in a way that would enable users of Census data to identify any particular individual or household.
- Organisations like government departments and direct marketing companies cannot have access to personal information from the Census.
- All personal information collected in the 2011 Census will be kept confidential. The Census and Statistics Act (1905) guarantees this protection and legally binds all ABS staff (including temporary employees working during the Census) never to release personal information to any individual or organisation outside the ABS.
Section 19 of the Act makes it an offence for any past or present ABS officer to divulge, either directly or indirectly, any confidential information collected under this Act. The Act provides heavy penalties (fines of up to $13,200 or imprisonment for 2 years or both) for anybody convicted of breaching this obligation – even if they are no longer employed by the ABS.
What happens to my information once is has been collected?
· Once processing of the Census forms is completed, all records of names and addresses are destroyed. The only exception is for those people who have elected to be part of the Census Time Capsule.
Do government agencies such as Centrelink or the Australian Taxation Office have access to my personal information?
- No! The ABS is legally bound to protect the privacy of individuals and cannot give identifiable information to any third party.Organisations outside the ABS will not be given data about an individual person or individual household. The confidentiality of your data is protected by the Census and Statistics Act (1905) and the Privacy Act (1988). Both these Acts ensure that data is not provided to anyone where that data can be used to identify an individual. All ABS staff, including temporary employees, are legally bound never to release personal information outside the ABS.
- There is absolutely no policy in existence or under consideration to integrate the Census or eCensus with the Department of Human Services Access Card (i.e. Smartcard). The ABS would never consider integrating the eCensus with any other system. Personal privacy is paramount at the ABS. People can be confident that the ABS will keep their personal information secure – both that provided in paper Census forms and in the eCensus. The ABS has never and will never release such information to any outside organisation, agency or project.
- By law, organisations such as the Tax Office and credit reference groups cannot have access to personal details from the Census.