Review of 2021 Census Topics

Closed 30 Jun 2018

Opened 3 Apr 2018

Feedback updated 14 Nov 2018

We asked

In late 2017, the ABS began consulting with key users of Census data to determine whether there should be changes or additions to the topics to be included in the 2021 Census. Between April and June 2018, a formal consultation process invited all interested parties to contribute their views on the topics that are important to be collected in the next Census. Emerging data needs and details of the consultation were outlined in a publication released on 3 Apr 2018 (cat. no. 2007.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Topics, 2021).

You said

In total, 450 submissions were received, with 315 published with consent on the ABS Consultation Hub. A summary of results and topic directions being explored by the ABS were published on 14 Nov 2018 in cat. no. 2007.0.55.001 - Census of Population and Housing: Topic Directions, 2021.

We did

Recommendations will be presented to Government in mid-2019 for decision on the 2021 Census topics. The final list of topics to be included in the Census will be published by the ABS in an information paper (cat. no. 2008.0) expected to be released in late 2020.

Results updated 14 Nov 2018

Stay Updated 

Get the latest statistics from ABS by visiting or following us on Twitter and Facebook at @ABSstats and LinkedIn at Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Receive information on our Census plans by subscribing to our email updates or by visiting 


Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics is seeking input from data users, organisations and members of the community about topics to be included in the next Census. This consultation is an opportunity for people to share their views on the data to be collected in the 2021 Census form.

Watch the 2021 Census Topics briefing Census topic briefing video recording now available

You can now watch the 2021 Census topics briefing which focuses on the review of 2021 Census topics and includes: 

  • an overview of the topic review process  
  • early directions on topics for 2021 including what may be added, changed or removed 
  • public submission process  
  • Q&A session.

We also recommend you first read the publication Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Topics, 2021 for background information about the consultation, as well as Census topics and the data needs they support.

To make your submission you will be asked to address the assessment criteria. You are not required to respond to all criteria although your submission would be strengthened by your ability to answer as thoroughly as possible.

Topics for the 2021 Census will be considered based on meeting the following criteria:  

  • the topic is of current national importance
  • there is a need for data from a Census of the whole population
  • the topic can be accurately collected in a form which the household completes themselves
  • the topic would be acceptable to Census respondents
  • the topic can be collected efficiently
  • there is likely to be a continuing need for data on the topic in the following Census
  • there are no other suitable alternative data sources or solutions that could meet the topic needPictorial representation of topic review

Before starting your submission, we recommend you read How to lodge a submission.

If you want an alternative way to submit your ideas, a Microsoft Word version of the online submission form is available for you to complete and return by mail or email. This is included in the 'Related' section at the bottom of this page.

For further information on making a submission read our FAQs.

Why your views matter

Every Census, the ABS makes a recommendation to the Australian Government on the topics that should be included in the Census. Since the first National Census in 1911 topics have been added, removed and changed to ensure the data remains relevant and valuable. New questions add time to Census processes and costs. Many Census topics are considered essential to retain to support key decisions and provide an understanding of change over time.This consultation will ensure that the 2021 Census topics best reflect our nation and the ability of our data to help inform Australia’s important decisions.

2021 Census future planning 

The ABS is focused on collecting your view on Census topics at this time. As we work towards 2021, the ABS will share our approach to how people can participate in the Census, our approach to ensuring privacy and security of information and how we provide the final Census results.  

To get updates on the ABS and our Census planning follow us at @ABSstats or visit

What happens next

The ABS is currently assessing the topic changes suggested in submissions using the assessment criteria. There will also be targeted stakeholder engagement and an extensive testing process to refine options and understand the quality impacts of changes. Where permission has been given, full submissions are now available to view. 

The ABS will publish a paper summarising the preliminary topic recommendations emerging from the consultation. Discussions will continue with data users as the recommendations are further developed and refined.  

Recommendations for the topics to be collected by the 2021 Census will be submitted for a decision by the Australian Government. Refinement and finalisation of the content will continue and a final decision will be published prior to the 2021 Census.


  • General Public
  • Data users
  • Stakeholders


  • Population