On the eve of the Australian 2016 Census, Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters MP is calling on residents to answer the questions as accurately and honestly as they can.
"Data collected by the Census underpins a lot of policy and funding decisions our government make and it's vital that every household completes the census as honestly and accurately as they can.
"The Census is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and is extremely important for planning, administration, policy development and evaluation activities for all levels of government and private users.
"I understand there has been some concern in the community about the 2016 Census. But there shouldn't be. This year’s Census is very much like the one we all completed about five years ago.
"Over the past few weeks, many constituents across the Bendigo electorate have contacted my office seeking clarification and assistance in regard to the online delivery of the Census.
"Whilst the ABS is moving towards an online delivery system, and about two thirds of Australians will use the online method, it is important to note that paper forms are still available to those who need them,” said Ms Chesters.
A dedicated request line has been set up to provide paper forms. Residents can call 1300 820 275, quote their unique Census Login number, and a form will be sent to them. This service is available 24/7.
Alternatively, the Census Inquiry Service (CIS) can provide advice or information regarding the census. The CIS number is 1300 214 531 and is available from 8am – 8pm, 7 days per week.
"It's also important to note that households have time. Whilst it's preferable for everyone to complete the Census on the official Census night, Tuesday 9 August, households have until 23 September to complete the form. The Federal Government has said no one will be fined if they complete the Census by the 23 September deadline.
"There will be a period of follow up after the official Census night. Reminder letters will be sent to every household that hasn’t responded to the Census, followed by a visit from a Census Field Officer to ensure that every household is counted.
"There's also support for people with hearing impairments through the National Relay Service and people requiring assistance in another language can access the CIS through the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS). Information for residents with low vision or vision impairment will be available through Vision Australia,” said Ms Chesters.
Local support can be found at the Bendigo Neighbourhood Hub at 155 Crook Street Strathdale. The Hub is holding a “Census Support Day” on Tuesday 9 August from 9am to 6pm. Staff and volunteers will be available all day to assist people to complete their Census. The Heathcote Community House, located at 55 Hospital Street, is also willing to help with free internet and computer usage over the Census period and can provide assistance for online and paper form completion.
"I cannot stress enough how important the Census is. Data collected by our national Census is used by policy makers in so many ways including helping to determine funding allocation for education and health programs,” said Ms Chesters.