Click and submit – The Australian Census 2011

2011 marks the one hundred year anniversary of the census collection in Australia. It would be an understatement to say that the format of this year’s census is a far cry from the early days where census collectors set out by bike, foot and horse, often through harsh terrain, to distribute the forms prior to census day and then return to collect them. Fast forward a century and we are a nation of online addicts, happy to fill out forms at the click of a mouse. Initial data from Experian Hitwise[1] shows that a large proportion of Australians turned to the internet to fill out the 2011 census (approximately two million out of the nine million households in Australia).

Tasmanians, more than those in any other state or territory, answered the  Australian Bureau Statistics (ABS) call to fill out the census online and are the most over-represented state on the census site compared to the national average. Victorians are perhaps more traditional in filling out their forms and are the most under-represented state.

In regards to gender, Experian Hitwise examined the demographic profile of those visiting ‘www.census.gov.au’ to fill out the form and early figures indicate that slightly more women (52.05%) than men (47.95%) went to the site. Obviously, we will have to wait for the official ABS figures to see exactly who filled out the census, but the initial signs suggest that the ‘man of the house’ mantra in terms of matters regarding household business may not be as prominent in today’s society.

As far as age groups go, Experian Hitwise was surprised to see that the 18-24 age bracket  is the most under represented group, whilst the over 55’s the most represented. This could be a telling statement in that it is not just Gen Y who relies heavily on technology but rather the connected society we now live in is spread right across the board in terms of age group. Or perhaps it is just reflective of the fact that the majority of 18-24 years old still live at home and were assisting their parents or homeowners to fill out the forms online. We will soon find out when the ABS releases the census findings in June 2012.

Since the last census was carried out in 2006, the number of Australians who completed the form online increased by 20 per cent, demonstrating a big change in our behaviour and attitude to online channels.  In five year’s time, we may all be going online to fill out the census from our smartphones, tablets and other connected devices. Only time will tell.

[1]Figures are from a four week time period to the week ending 13th August 2011