Census 2016 – 9 August

With less than a week to go until Census night on 9 August, you should have received your online access codes but what if you don’t have internet access?

Included in the letter detailing your access codes, is a number to call to request a paper copy of the Census be sent to you. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But according to Paul Versteege of the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA), the wait on the phone line is causing concern and chaos for older Australians and it appears that the 300 phone lines provided by the ABS are constantly busy.

“The Census Inquiry phone line is overwhelmed and people are being told to call back later. Many people are not online and are concerned they won’t receive their paper forms in time and will be fined $180 a day for every day they are late.

“The ABS tells us that people should ring before 8.30am or after 9.30pm, when calls drop off. However, this is an entirely predictable mess, resulting from a savings-driven rush into making online completion of the census form the default method of completion.

“We need as much information about older Australians as we can get if we want to make good policy choices in support of our rapidly ageing population. Ignoring the fact, as the ABS has done, that particularly the very elderly are not online, does not show a lot of respect for this section of the Australian community,” said Mr Versteege in a statement.

Once received and completed, the paper form should be returned in the reply paid envelope provided.

There has been much controversy about this year’s Census. Firstly, in the past, paper forms have been the norm, with online access offered as an alternative. This year, online is the preferred option with those requiring a paper copy having to contact the ABS automated line with their passcode to hand. For those who prefer to speak to a person, you can call the Census inquiry line on 1300 214 531. That some households only received the letters with codes and instructions this week, it doesn’t leave much time to ensure a Census form is delivered on time.

Secondly there has been the increased time that details will be stored. While previously they have been retained for 18 months, the details from this Census will be kept for four years.

And lastly, those wishing to boycott the Census under privacy concerns have been warned in no uncertain terms that they face hefty fines – $180 for each day it’s not completed cold be implemented.

On Census night, there will be volunteers knocking on your door to see if you need assistance with completing your Census form online. However, as tempting as this may be if you’re having difficulties, do be careful who you allow in to your home – always ask to see ID and if you’re unsure, close the door.

Are you happy to complete the Census online? Would you prefer to receive a paper form and opt for the online version if comfortable? Have you tried to call the help line and had to wait?

Debbie McTaggart Your Life Choices article dated 3 April 2016

Related articles:
Census 2016: boycotters would face fines
Faith in spotlight in 2016 Census

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