Census reaches out to veterans

The Australian Census only happens once every five years and provides us with important insights into our vast communities. Picture: UNSPLASH

By Mikayla van Loon

The Census comes around once every five years and has done so ever since 1961.

It has become an important part of society, to learn about the economic, social and cultural make-up of Australia.

Not only that, Census data is used to inform important decisions about transport, schools, health care, infrastructure and business. It also helps plan local services for individuals, families and communities.

“The Census is the largest statistical activity undertaken in Australia. It provides a snapshot of who we are, and how we are changing,” an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) spokesperson said.

“Not only is it important data for right now, but it also provides a historical data set.”

While the Census is now overdue, it is not too late to complete it and contribute to an informed community, which can plan for now and into the future.

The 2021 Census includes questions on long-term health conditions and Australian Defence Force service, which have never been included before.

These two new elements are of particular concern to the Yarra Ranges, having a potentially large population of veterans that are not known to community groups, as well as issues having been raised about insufficient health services across the shire.

Lilydale RSL president Bill Dobson has previously said that not being able to access data around veterans and where they are located has limited RSL sub-branches from being able to offer much needed support to veterans.

“So our problem is, it is very hard to contact people if we just don’t have that information,” Mr Dobson said.

The aim of this new Census question is to identify Australia’s veteran community, to enable better delivery of services and support for veterans.

“The Department of Veteran Affairs and others who provide services to veteran communities identified veterans as a vulnerable group with the potential to experience homelessness, and to have specific health and care needs,” the ABS spokesperson said.

“While records exist for current Australian Defence Force service, they are not consistently maintained for previous service, and limited historical data on service personnel is available.”

This Census will also be necessary in understanding how Covid-19 has affected the population Australia wide.

“This Census will be the first major data insight that will show us some of the ways that Covid-19 has impacted the Australian population.

“The data will provide much needed information on how the pandemic has changed life in Australia, including the health, social and economic impacts on Australian households.

“Census data will also show us how Covid-19 has changed the living and working arrangements of people in Australia.”

As of 8am on Monday 23 August a total of 8,762,036 households in Australia had completed their Census, of those 2,285,414 Victorian households had completed their Census.

For those who haven’t completed the Census yet, you can still go online and complete it by selecting the ‘Get a Census Number’ option.

You can also request a paper form from the Census website, or by calling us on 1800 512 441.