Census hailed a success

Date: Aug 10, 2011

Australia held its 16th population census last night (August 9), marking 100 years of the national survey being conducted.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is the official body responsible for organising both the distribution and collection of the questionnaire forms, as well as the collation and publication of the gathered data.

This year the ABS will enjoy the assistance of 8,000 helpers who will collect the papers from 9.8 million households all over the country.

People were encouraged to participate through an online portal that allowed users to streamline their answer process by shutting out sections they did not need to answer.

There were 60 questions included in this census, covering topics from relationships, ancestry, religion and employment.

Some of the sections in the survey were made mandatory, with other being left optional.

Interestingly, there was an option for online respondent to allow the ABS to make their personal results available to the public after 99 years - potentially providing an interesting resource to future family researchers.

Previous iterations of the census asked questions on the length of time a couple had been married - no longer included in the modern version - but only relatively recently began including requests for information on income.

Over 30 per cent of Australia's population is expected to complete the questionnaire online, a move that has been encouraged by ABS officials.

Census director for Western Australia Mike Scott asserted: "We're strongly encouraging people to do it online because it means they [the collectors] don't have to go back and collect the forms."

Past statistics from the ABS showed that in 2006 - the year the last census was conducted - there were 51,375 divorces granted by the family court.

Of these, more than 50 per cent of the cases involving couples undergoing divorce proceedings involved child custody.

However the length of these marriages have been increasing over the years.

In 2006, the median amount of time divorced couples spent married before receiving a divorce was 12.5 years, whereas in 1988, it was 10.1 years.

Under Australian law, the only grounds for a divorce to be granted is that the married couple be separated for 12 months prior to the application being filed.

This means that, essentially, the courts do not attempt to attribute blame or fault in considering a divorce application.

An experienced family lawyer can provide detailed information into the processes and legal requirements involved in proving that a couple has separated.