Settlement Guide

Settlement Guide: 5 answers to census privacy concerns

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For over 100 years, Australians have shared anonymous personal information with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), to help policy-makers plan for the country’s future. The anonymity of respondents is due to change on the 9th of August census with the ABS making it compulsory for people to include their names and addresses. Here are some answers to privacy concerns.

1. Law protects the privacy of your information

Under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 the personal information you provide in the census remains strictly confidential to the ABS. The ABS never has and never will release identifiable census data.

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2. The ABS will destroy names and addresses when there is no longer any community benefit to their retention or four years after collection

The ABS has and will always ensure that sufficient safeguards are in place to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the information it collects in the census, including names and addresses.

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3. The ABS has legal obligations to keep data secure and ensure that it does not disclose identifiable information about a person, household or business

The security measures in place have been independently tested and reviewed to ensure that your personal information is secure. Key measures to safeguard information include strong encryption of data, restricted access on a need-to-know basis and monitoring of all staff, including regular audits.

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4. After data collection and processing, the ABS removes names and addresses from other personal and household information

Names and addresses will be stored securely and separate from one another. No one working with census data will be able to view your personal information (name or address) at the same time as your other census responses (such as age, sex, and occupation, level of education or income).

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5. Stored separately and securely, individuals’ names will also be substituted with a linkage key, a computer generated code, completely anonymising the personal information

Only these anonymous linkage keys will be used by the ABS to bring data sets together. This practice is known as the Functional Separation principle.

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The Census Privacy Policy explains how the personal information you provide to the ABS as part of the 2016 census is collected, used and disclosed.

For more information visit the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.

To request a paper form call 1300 214 531.

If you need a translator call 13 14 50.