January 10th, 2018
methodology for data collection during the 2011 census in Australia
The methodology for data collection during the 2011 census in Australia involved the use of questionnaires (census forms) to record data from households across the country. The questionnaires sought to collect information on various topics concerning persons, families and dwellings. For each topic, at least one question was used to collect responses on various items, usually called variables. Examples of variables include occupation, hours worked, labour force status (employed, unemployed and self-employed) and sex (male or female). Variables take a range of values, e.g. male and female for sex, which define the variables’ classification. For efficient data analysis, such values were coded into numerical representation (e.g. male becomes 1 and female becomes 2). Classifications for various variables were determined based on classifications provided by various authorities in Australia; for instance, the classification for occupations were based on the classifications offered by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) while those for country of birth were based on the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC).
The enumeration process involved use of enumerators to record data in the census form from the responses given by the individual being interviewed. The enumeration was based on the physical location at the night of the enumeration (place of enumeration) thus avoiding cases where there would be aspects such as multiple counting. Such places of enumeration were determined based on the address provided at the top of the Census Household Form. However, data analysis was presented according to various aspects including the usual residence of the individual based on the responses provided when interviewed.
To ensure that all regions were covered, the Australian Bureau of statistics followed the geographical divisions it has established for enumeration over the years. The smallest of such units is referred to as a mesh block, while the largest is the state or territory. Although data was collected from the mesh block, the small size of mesh groups (approximately 50 households) makes it an unreliable basis to provide various statistical outputs. Accordingly, the statistical output based on mesh group was only with respect to total persons and dwelling counts variables.
Over time, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has also developed specific criteria for groups that are likely to miss the enumeration during the enumeration night due to aspects such as cultural practices and occupation. Such specific procedures for enumeration were, for instance, conducted for groups such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, culturally and linguistically diverse groups, mining camps, remote travellers and the homeless. For the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders the procedure for instance included ongoing engagement, recruitment of local people to assist in enumeration processes, having a higher number of field staff and increased flexibility of the field operation. For travellers, the ABS established easily accessible, designated collection points where tourists could pick travellers packs that requested them to detail aspects such as their location on census night. Such provision for the special groups reduced the cases for underestimating the census data due to failure to record data from such groups.
In summary, the methodology for data 2011 census can be evaluated into planning, data collection and analysis processes. Planning processes involved aspects such as recruitment of enumerators and engagement of special groups. Data collection entailed the use of census form to record data from respondents. Data analysis involved the evaluation of the data collected according to various variables identified prior to the data collection activities.