IT’s predicted we could become world leaders in cyber census taking, with authorities urging us to complete the forms online in a move which will potentially save the government tens of millions of dollars.
Gone it seems is the friendly knock on the door , the clip-board and the form.
As with so many aspects of life, replaced by the now-familiar request for a password.
“Each household will be sent a unique login code and we’d encourage as many people as can to fill it out online,” said David Kalisch from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Efficiency is the overwhelming objective. Kelly O’Dwyer is Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, and says the cleaner, greener method of data collection could save Australian taxpayers as much as 100-million dollars.
“We certainly think the data will be more accurate because it won’t have to go through a 2-stage process – online people will be able to directly fill in their answers and no-one’s going to need to work out what it is people have said because they’re typing in their answers directly,” Ms O’Dwyer said.
Some fear they’ll be disadvantaged by a possible lack of computer literacy, but demographer Bernard Salt says paper versions will still be available for those unable to complete forms online.
“Indigenous, remote, elderly, people who don’t have those particular skills – there is always a follow up process where people are helped out to manually complete the census,” Mr Salt said.
In fact, the Australian Bureau of Statistics workers are already on the ground engaging with remote indigenous communities –
Mr Salt Salt says the results of the cyber data collection will be safe, and the outcomes crucial for strategic planning.
“The elevated level of population – more than 24-million people – I think we’ll see a greater level of ethnicity Chinese – Indian – Arabic based populations in Australia,” he said.
Kelly O’Dwyer says the results will play a key role in policy development.
“Where we have new population hot-spots where there might be young families or where we might have aging populations as well – that all helps the Australian Government to make decisions about our policies,” she said.
In 2006, the technology-of-the-day wasn’t ready for the shift to cyber forms and the computer system crashed – when 10-percent of households completed the forms online.
In 2011, 33-percent completed forms electronically and the online target for next year’s census is 65-percent .
Details of the 61 questions contained in the 2016 census will be made public later this month.