150 Survey Responses as at 10am August 31

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I launched a short survey into concerns and responses to the 2016 Census late on August 30. Ongoing results (closed answers only) are here.

The survey is anonymous and asks ten questions to gather information to inform further debate on how people have responded to this year’s Census. Participants are offered the opportunity to provide feedback on experiences with filling out the form, Census collectors and the policy process that brought about #CensusFail. The results will be made public and will also be used in a submission to the ‘inquiry into the preparation, administration and management of the 2016 Census by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’.

Q1 Have you completed the 2016 Census?


Q2 If you have completed the Census, did you complete it online or by paper?


Q3 What issues did you experience when you tried to fill out the 2016 Census?

Q3 Responses

Showing 75 responses

  • General site failures. Browser incompatibility. DNS issues.

  • We live in a two dwelling property. Only one code received and when attempting to complete second household – not possible. Filled in online tech error form. Received email advising a form will be posted. Never received.

  • none

  • crashed site

  • Website either down or crashed repeatedly

  • I’m 21. I’ll note my mother (58) most likely blithely included me in her form despite me explicitly saying I don’t agree with it and attempting to inform her. Doesn’t seem to care. That said, she had to attempt a few times because the site was down.

  • The website was non existent. They required names.

  • none

  • Unable to submit after completion the first time. Some questions did not have a relevant answer for me.

  • Failure on census night, mandatory name.

  • It took me over a dozen attempts over the course of a week to actually obtain a paper census form, which did not arrive until after census night

  • None

  • Confusion, insecurity, doubt

  • The site was down

  • site down. javascript not enabled error.

  • Website down plus privacy

  • Many poor questions but the online process was fine. i did it the weekend folllowing census night

  • None

  • None, because paper

  • Couldn’t lodge after filling in for 5 people. All data lost. Not doing it again.

  • None, it was easy

  • Website crashed

  • Site broken, phones engaged

  • Average

  • bad handwriting!

  • Too many to list…couldn’t login, when I did could save or transmit. Couldn’t get through to the call centre and the ABS are not replying to my letters.

  • website down

  • Concern for privacy being shared with unknown parties

  • Website down. Requested paper forms following day

  • couldn’t connect to site

  • it’s shit

  • none

  • Unable to access website

  • I felt the requests for name and date of birth was intrusive. There was an option to include year of birth however which I opted for.

  • Deliver of papers was not on time

  • Ddos

  • Website was down

  • It asked for my name and address

  • Did not try to fill it out.

  • Being put in the invidious position of potentially breaking the law or being tracked by my government

  • Website was down on census night

  • The web site didn’t work for many days

  • Offline first time. Havent bothered trying since

  • Getting through on the line to request a paper form took several attempts.

  • Online fail. Census person door knocked, I asked for paper & was given

  • Site crashed!

  • Online, couldn’t connect.

  • None

  • Was provided 3 seperate login codes for the 1 residence; when I called hotline to ask which of 3 to use, the operator snidely commented that I shouldn’t complain (which I wasn’t) because they ‘over serviced’ me and are only guilty of ‘being too efficient’.

  • Paper form requested arrived days late

  • Deciding whether or not to fill in my name.

Q4 If you did fill out the 2016 Census, did you include your real name and address?


Q4 open ended responses

Showing 15 responses

  • completed address, left names blank

  • I intend to leave name, all addresses (both current and past), and age blank, to frustrate creation of an SLK or any possible link to past census data

  • Real address but a blank name

  • I do not intend to use my name or address

  • Blank address, name “The Householder”

  • I would never provide my name. The ABS is only authorised to hold statistical dat!

  • if instructed by chief ABS to complete form, I will not include my name and add

  • I provided a false name but address and other details were true

  • If I complete the paper form, I will be leaving off my name and address. Still debating whether to do this or boycott.

  • Gave first name, not last

  • yes, but i didn’t really want to

  • No name. Correct address

  • Gave correct address, no name

  • Removed all tracking items on form

  • I put in my postcode and suburb only.

Q5 If you have not and do not intend to fill in the 2016 Census please share your reasons.


Q5 Responses

Showing 28 responses

  • General lack of trust with ABS that they will use my data in an ethical manner.

  • Pointless now. Too late. And, security concerns.

  • It is a protest against public concerns being disregarded and threats of fines being made. I have seen several elderly people afraid of being fined if they were even a day late. Will fill it in if I am directly told to, but will not give names.

  • I actually cannot even start it

  • I still have time, and the gov might change their mind, re fines for no names

  • Didn’t work on the night. Haven’t got back to it.

  • ABS is not complying with the Act. And it has shown that it it IT technically incompetent.

  • Also was overseas!

  • I’ve seen the paper form and there’s no really valuable data there – by linking you to other data sources they are indulging in mass surveillance of the entire population

  • The ability for future (and current) governments to identify and segregate large parts of the population based on undesireable traits

  • Lack of trust in ABS

  • I am a privileged wealthy WASP. I can afford to protest on behalf of those who cannot.

  • With today’s technology, almost all data collected can be collected via other sources. No longer relevant

  • Lack of transparency about how data will be tracked and potentially sold.

  • Have not received it

  • Lack of informed consent

  • It’s just none of their damn business

  • Arrogance of ABS and LNP regarding the public’s legitimate privacy concerns was another dealbreaker

  • I sure was tempted to use another name

  • Biggest concern is the linking of all possible data sets and what will be done with that data. Once linked it is linked forever. Any protection we have under law now will change as the law is changed in future.

  • over-reach with data linking this becomes longitudinal study that has not been adequately explained or sought consent for

  • Politics overturns data

  • I was ready to complete on Census night. ABS weren’t and have missed their window when I may have been prepared to do it. Also, am not satisfied with ABS capability to secure private data

Q6 If you did fill in the 2016 Census please share your reasons.


Q6 Responses

Showing 27 responses

  • not a concern

  • census is very important, however I do not agree to ghaving my name being part of the dataset

  • Believe it’s important but refused to provide identifying information

  • I hoped the paper form would not have the same security issues

  • I do not feel that census outweigh the risks to privacy in its current form. However, having withheld identifying information, I believe the benefits probably do outweigh the risks from undesired disclosure of my (unidentified) information (though lacking full information on the uses, I wouldn’t say I’ve given properly informed consent).

  • Did not provide name

  • I am a demographer and felt obligated but they really stuffed up and I don’t approve with linking census data to other sources

  • Can’t afford the fines

  • I did not

  • Other than the few strange creepy questions I answered with half-truths, there wasn’t a lot I gave up that (name, address, income, ancestry etc). However I refuse to transmit this information to them online.

  • curious

  • Only submitted with false name after census collectors came 2 days in a row

  • I omitted my name so I was comfortable providing the information

  • It serves some purpose but is drastically overreaching.

  • There is a legitimate question about the ABS’ power to require me to provide my name. The appropriate place for that to be resolved is the Ombudsman, not a Magistrates’ Court

  • No privacy concerns, and the ABS wants it

  • Possible fine. It’s traditionally been something I have always done.

  • The govt already has all this info.

  • Don’t distrust government in this function

  • An anonymous census counting people per electorate is sufficient to fulfill the ABS’s constitutional obligations. Collecting any other data (especially name and address) should be strictly voluntary.

  • Believe Census data is important and valid, but can’t see any practical way of preventing privacy infringements in the short/medium term – so let’s collect in 2016, and fight to protect in future years

  • Believe census is important so filled out truthfully just leaving name and address off

  • Both of the above, but refused to comply with unreasonable demands.

  • I felt very conflicted about it but recognise the importance of the census although I hate how they went about collecting names this time

  • I still remain deeply concerned about using Census to leverage a WoG database, and it was only for future genealogical researchers (I opted for Archives) that I bothered to fill out at all

  • I think that post-code specific data can be very useful. But not name and specific address.

  • Support the census process for this reason, but not the retention of named data.

Q7 What experience (if any) have you had with the 2016 Census collectors?

Q7 Resonses

Showing 86 responses

  • None. 1st letter with codes, then reminder letter that got binned.

  • Zero.

  • none

  • Harrasment every 2 days to complete form with threats of fines

  • they put reminder in the letterbox

  • Was told the single census collector had another 200 houses to check on

  • left census form and now two cards 5 days apart

  • Gruff

  • Haven’t seen any collectors at all anywhere.

  • I got a reminder letter, which felt a little threatening given the talk of fines.

  • None as of yet

  • Pushed paper form under my front door.

  • None haven’t sighted one

  • One came to my door but I pretended I wasn’t home

  • one called while we were out.

  • I feel kinda threatened. I don’t like that they are allowed access to my secure apartment area.

  • None

  • no probs yet

  • None

  • N/A

  • One visit so far.

  • One came today and dropped a paper form. She was nice enough.

  • None

  • Arrogant, ignorant, incredibly rude

  • Multiple visits by the same lady. 3 or 4 times until we told her we sent it

  • They delivered the forms 3 weeks after census night.

  • the person who visited was polite, and noted down my Policy Objections on her *personal* device. I’m awaiting a visit from her supervisor.

  • I’d like to share letters I’ve sent to the ABS, Christopher Pyne and the PMs office with you. Today I was told that I’ve refused to comply and face fines. I tried to discuss the relevant provisions and the young lady gave me a blank look and left. How can ABS threaten to fine me when they wrote TO THE RESIDENT – I’ve not been asked to do any ing by the ABS I’m just one of 4 people who live in this residence.

  • I ordered a form via phone- It arrived- Then received another one in my letterbox yesterday

  • Didn’t have a box on his form for refusers

  • Nil

  • Came to the house 29/08 & gave me the paper form

  • A worker came to door and asked if anyone was home on Census Night. We said “no” and she ticked a box said thanks and left

  • They knock, I don’t answer

  • Using avoidance tactic.

  • Buzzed our apartment at 9am on Sunday, ignored it, buzzed again on Monday and answered. Collector was stern and we instructed form was completed by paper form. A neighbour was approached outside the building by the field officer and was asked if they lived at this address, the neighbour was apprehensive to answer and they had an argument (the neighbour was apprehensive in disclosing any information and the field officer threatened to call police)

  • Haven’t seen one so far

  • None

  • None

  • None yet

  • No confrontation, I was friendly, he was businesslike. But I didn’t tell him my concerns in the expectation of being given the same ABS statements.

  • Nil

  • None

  • None

  • One knocked on Sunday morning. Said he’d return every 3 days

  • They came to my mother’s place at 7pm (after dark) to check if she’d completed it. Freaked her out. I spoke to them through the door (don’t open up after dark). It seemed like an odd time to make an official call.

  • She was efficient, sympatheitic to the system failure

  • pleasant but not informative – cannot answer questions re: privacy and security

  • None

  • Did not see or speak with them, form arrived in post without needing too.

  • Very polite 2 visits. Plus 3 visits when I was not home, leaving a flier saying “Act now before it’s too late.

  • See q3

  • They left a paper form at my door so far.

  • None

  • Woman came to collect form. Friendly. Agreed the whole thing had been a stuff up.

  • No envelope to return paper

  • Paper form in post box, nothing else.

  • N/A

  • empowering and excellent

  • Aware they exist, that is all

  • Live in apartment block (restricted access), everyone got paper forms by default!

  • Census collector was a bit scared of my neighbour, which is unsurprising. (He’s a bit feral.) I had to reassure the census bloke that the neighbour looked more aggro than he was.

  • None

  • None visited

  • non, non have shown up.

  • Haven’t had the pleasure to run into any of them (yet)

  • Pushy. Ill-informed.

  • Avoidance – I think one knocked (very softly) on my door last Sunday, but I didn’t answer

  • Nil

  • No contact. 1 visit notice in letterbox. If contacted I will say my dwelling was unoccupied on census night. If asked if I was included on a form at another dwelling I will say that’s my business.

  • Reminders in mailbox only. Plan to avoid them.

  • None

  • They’re tenacious.

  • 2 householder letters delivered, collector at door asked if I had filled in census. I said we were all away. (Lied to avoid further follow up). Filled out census in 2011 but very concerned about privacy in 2016. Do not believe adequate informed consent has been asked for. This is a real shame as census data is important for planning and as a snapshot.

  • No contact (yet)

  • Persistent

  • First contact was yesterday, knock on door. Told him I’d nearly completed online, just waiting on details from daughter. He chatted, then got WAY too chatty about weird stuff.

  • None

  • None

  • Pushy

  • no visit

  • None – live in country area

  • Feeling harassed: Have been ‘visited’ 15/8, 20/8, 23/8, 29/8(twice!)

  • One knocked. I handed my form to him.

  • They knocked once, i lied to them, havnt seen them since (see comment above)

  • none so far

Q8 At the time of announcement and consultation (November 11- December 18 2015), were you aware that the ABS had changed the approach to privacy for the 2016 Census and that you understood what this meant for yourself or others?


Q9 Do you feel that the government did enough to raise awareness of and publicise the changes to privacy with the 2016 Census (during 2015 the consultation period)?


Q9 Responses

Showing 6 responses

  • No, and I don’t think the changes should have happened in the first place.

  • Not at all. Keeping information that links my name and address to my spiritual preference is a digrace. To know that ABS is IT technically incompentant is every worse. Hackers will soon know the name and address of every Catholic or Jew or whatever in Australia. What fool made this decision I ask….

  • They took deliberate measures to obscure and delay publication of the changes

  • They were silent and secretive about the changes, hoping the public would willingly agree with having a dossier created about every person in the country

  • The changes would have been rejected by the public if they were publicised during the consultation period.

  • No, not at all, although I blame Kalisch (and his motives) at ABS more than the pollies

Q10 Do you feel that you have given your informed consent to the uses to which 2016 Census data will be applied?


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