Australian Census Test Run to Prevent Another Failure

October 15, 2020 Updated: October 15, 2020

Households are being asked to take part in a large-scale dummy run of the census to prevent another failure of the national survey.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics wants about 100,000 households to complete tests being rolled out this week, ahead of the main event next year.

“This is the biggest test we’ll run before the census to make sure it is easy for people to complete, our processes work and the census form captures information accurately,” ABS executive Andrew Henderson said.

People selected for the trial will soon receive a letter with instructions on how to take part.

The test night is scheduled for October 27 but people will be able to do it afterwards.

This subtle shift marks a major change in how the census is conducted.

“This window of time, rather than a single night, will also be available for the census next year, for the first time in the history of the census,” Henderson said.

“We know people expect flexibility and convenience, so this will make it easier for people to fill in their form when it best suits them.”

The last national census was dogged by an online debacle that saw millions of people locked out of the website.

The ABS shut down the site over fears it was being hacked.

The failure raised serious concerns about the quality of the information gathered in 2016, with people questioning whether the census data was reliable.

Daniel McCulloch in Canberra