Australian Census records

The 2016 Census of Population and Housing is conducted on 9th August 2016.

After households complete their Census forms, they are returned to the Data Processing Centre in Dandenong for processing where they are turned into Census records.

The Census record is the most fundamental part of the Census, and it consists of 3 parts.

  • The household record: can include up to 3 families and any number of individuals, as well as specific characteristics relating to the household.
  • The family record: contains all the records for the individuals making up one family unit (as derived from question 5 on the Census form, about relationships), as well as specific characteristics relating to the family unit.
  • The person record: contains all the characteristics relating to an individual’s responses to the Census.

The ABS holds the Final Unit Record File from which they can derive any cross-tabulated table for any combination of variables, for any geographic area in the Census. The ABS determine the most useful tables and subsets of data for planning purposes and release those as standard output, but all other tables can be run as a consultancy on a cost for service basis. .id uses these custom tables to give our clients the maximum value from the Census, in, and We also offer the service of defining additional tables for our clients.

Once the household forms have been processed into the record file, the original documents are pulped, and name and address information is destroyed by the ABS. There is no way to identify individual Census records by name in the Census, and ABS has confidentiality rules in place to avoid releasing any information on characteristics that could identify an individual. Name and address information was kept for earlier Censuses from 1901 through to 1966, in case it was needed. Information from the earliest of those Censuses is now available to genealogists, but no name-identified information was kept from 1971 through to the 1996 Census.

In 2001, and then in 2006 and 2011, respondents had the option of having their name-identified information scanned in to microfilm and kept in the national archives for 99 years. Generally between 50% and 60% of the population choose this option. These records will be available from the years 2100, 2105 and 2110 respectively, but there will be no way to tell whether an individual was not recorded in the Census or chose to have their name-identified information destroyed. This option is available again in 2016, for release in 2115.


For more information about .id’s Census-based information tools, visit our demographic resource centre.

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