Census 2011 questions and answers

Below we provide answers to basic questions in relation to the 2011 Census and the role of the Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD). If you have a particular question that is not found below, please contact us.


What is a Census?

A Census may be defined as the process of collecting, compiling and publishing social, demographic and economic data that concerns all persons in a country at a specific time. The Census provides detailed information on the number and size of the population, age structure, education, labour force and socio-economic characteristics. A Census is conducted every five years in Australia.

Why take a Census?

The Census provides the characteristics of the population and its housing to support the planning, administration and policy development activities of governments, business and other users.

While some of this information is available from other sources, only a Census can provide the information for the country as a whole, for small geographic areas and small population groups.

For more information about the Census, see the ABS website.

When was the last Census held?

The last Census was held on the 9 August 2011. The Census before that was the 2006 Census.

When was Census data released?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will release 2011 Census data over three phases.

  • Phase 1 – 21 June 2012: Core demographic data items will be available in the first data release
  • Phase 2 – 30 October 2012: Other data items that require more detailed processing will be included in the second release.
  • Phase 3 – 28 March 2013: The third release relates to the dissemination of highly specialised products (such as Social-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) and the Census Sample Files).

Products will be released progressively until the end of 2013. This will finalise all Census data output for the 2011 Census.

For more information, please visit the ABS website.

Who to contact about Victorian data, figures or other queries

The National Information and Referral Service (NIRS) at the ABS can assist you with a wide-range of queries. Contact them by phoning 1300 135 070 or visit the NIRS web page.

What are the product changes between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses?

There are some major changes to some of the classifications used in the 2011 Census, the largest of which is the change around geographical units used to output Census data.

The ABS is producing several new products for the 2011 Census, including TableBuilder Basic and TableBuilder pro.

ABS is also discontinuing several products, including: Social Atlases, CData Online, Census Tables and MapSats.

The products above have in part been replaced by TableBuilder Basic which allows users to choose topics of interest and customise geographic areas on a map. Users can then export map images or take the data and boundaries away in a wide range of formats.

How can DPCD assist me?

The Spatial Analysis and Research (SAR) unit within DPCD produces research on urban and regional areas based on both Census and other data. In the years of Census data releases, such as 2012, DPCD will release products based on data from the last Census and using that same data to update other products. These products provide vital information on Victoria’s population, including characteristics such as age, population distribution, education and household size.

If you require specific information or analysis that is not available on our website, we encourage you to contact us with your query.

What products has DPCD released based on 2011 Census data?

Spatial Analysis and Research has produced the following products based on the 2011 Census data. To date these products include;

  • Towns in Time series data
  • Social Atlas of Melbourne
  • Social Atlas of Greater Geelong
  • Victorian Population Bulletin – 2013 special edition
  • Research Matters - Special Editions
  • Xylophone Charts
  • Quick Facts from the Census

More products will be released over time.

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