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Census 2016 reveals Australia is becoming much more diverse but can we trust the data?

Nicholas Biddle writes in The Conversation (27.6.17) about how the 2016 Census reveals that Australia is becoming much more diverse – in terms of language, country of birth, Indigenous status, and religion.

'According to data released today, there were 23,401,892 people who were counted in Australia on the night of the 2016 Census who were usually resident in Australia.

'After adjusting for undercount and adding back those who were overseas on census night, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates that as of December 2016, Australia’s population was around 24.4 million.

'Our population is growing – and fast. But can we trust the numbers?

'For the first time, the ABS asked an independent assurance panel to look into the census’ quality. While this was prompted by the failure of the online portal on census night, and the privacy concerns expressed by many, the additional scrutiny is a good idea.

'The panel reported that the 2016 Census is “of comparable quality to 2006 and 2011 and comparable collections internationally”. It reported there was a lower net undercount (that is, people who were missed from the census) in 2016 than there was for 2006 and 2011.'

'This means, for the most part, we should believe the results from the 2016 Census. All data has its limitations. But it would appear that with the information we currently have the data is robust enough, at least at the national level.'

 

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