Opinion

Making your facts count

by
June 18, 2016

Whenever a federal election is in the offing, as it is right now, we hear plenty of questions and sometimes complaints by those who believe the services provided by government don’t live up to the needs of the population.

Sometimes that’s because governments choose to fund one service at the expense of another; other times it’s because demand for a particular service has grown at such a rate that its provision has failed to keep pace with that growth.

Governments at all levels rely on the information gathered by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to ensure they can continue to service the needs of our population in the provision of things such as schools and hospitals.

That means the ABS needs to receive the most accurate information available if it is to help create blueprints for need around the country.

While many of us might find tedious the task of completing our census document when the census rolls around on August 9, the reality is we are providing valuable information that can’t be collected any other way.

As the ABS Victorian director Annette Kelly notes today in the News, the census is critical for population and infrastructure-needs planning.

Whether it’s an increased need for more child care or, at the other end of the spectrum, more aged care facilities, that information is vital.

The ABS wants 65 per cent of Australians to complete their census online, doubling the number who did so in 2011 and reflecting the growth in the nation’s digital focus.

Going online will not only make it easier to collect the information but it will also save significant costs compared with processing the traditional hard copy census forms.

The census has provided short-term employment for those involved in collecting details and helping householders to accurately complete their forms — whether online or hard copy.

It is the census which has previously helped the ABS to understand the population focal points in this region, including the concentration of recent migrants and the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

It is up to all of us to ensure we take part in the census and provide accurate information that will be vital for the future prosperity of our region.

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