HSQ submission to the review of the Australian 2016 Census
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) invited the public to have a say in shaping the 2016 Census of Population and Housing in November 2012, with submissions to be made by 31 May 2013.
Have your say on the Australian 2016 Census
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) invited the public to have a say in shaping the 2016 Census of Population and Housing in November 2012, and closes in May 2013. The ABS will make a submission to Government in mid-2014, outlining recommendations on the nature and content of the 2016 Census. The content of the 2016 Census is expected to be finalised by the end of 2014.
As of 22 March 2013, there have been 43 submissions received about the content of the 2016 Census. 13 of these relate to the Religion question. The ABS states:
All submissions received support the retention of this topic. The majority of the submissions request that the Census questions be modified to better capture information about people with no religion (e.g. rewording the question so that ‘No religion’ is at the top of the list of response categories or in the position accorded by the number of responses in the last Census).
The closing date for submissions is Friday, 31 May 2013. To make a submission, go to 2016 Census: An opportunity to have your say.
The Census may be providing a misleading picture of the number of Australians who hold religious beliefs
The census data on religion produced in previous years gives a wholly misleading picture of religiosity in Australia. The Census question regarding religious affiliation is structurally biased. We believe that if the census question concerning religion required people to write the name of the religion they practice, instead of ticking a box in the list of options provided, it is likely a completely different picture would emerge. Importantly, in 1994 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) stated that : “It is important to note that while the religion with which people identify is recorded, the census does not measure the extent of their involvement or commitment.”
Why this matters
If you identify yourself as religious on the census, but in reality are not, then you are treated by some sections of the media, churches, and government policymakers as if you are a fully-fledged believer. See why inaccurate census data matters.
What you can do
The short answer is simple. If you’re not religious, then answer “No Religion” on the census. Unsure about how to answer the religion question? Read through our FAQs.
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