Do I have to provide my name on my Census form?

Castan Centre for Human Rights Law

Guest post by Dr Caroline Henckels

Last week one of my Public Law students asked me whether it was true that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) could demand a person’s name on the Census form. The issue has been all over social media in recent days.

Collecting names on Census night isn’t new – but people are concerned that the ABS will now be retaining peoples’ names, whereas previously it destroyed identifying information before analysing the data. Retaining identifying information that can be linked to Census records has potentially significant privacy implications. Although the data provided to the ABS is protected by robust secrecy provisions in the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (the Act), questions have been asked about the security of the storage of data and the potential for its misuse.

It’s difficult to call into question the value of the Census – it provides essential information for…

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