Save the Census

Our policy

The policy statement of the Australasian Federation of Family History Organizations (AFFHO) on this important matter is as follows:-

2006 AUSTRALIAN CENSUS The first national census in Australia for which identified data has been retained since 1828 is the 2001 survey, of which more than 50 percent survives because of lobbying by AFFHO.

It is AFFHO’s policy that microfilm copies of all original returns for the above census and future surveys should be retained in the National Archives in Australia because they are an invaluable record of Australian family history. The census is the only public record that comes close to recording the name, address and occupation of every Australian. No other sources, such as electoral rolls and birth certificates achieve this. Millions of Australians are not on the rolls and millions more were not born here.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) advised AFFHO on 12 February 2003 that it intended to seek the views of stakeholders and the community at large on this forthcoming survey. AFFHO responded to this invitation. In particular the ABS sought views on the aspects of collection operations, processing, and output of results, privacy and confidentiality. On 2 July 2003 the ABS published (online and in hard copy) a paper called 2006 Census of Population and Housing ABS Views on Content and Procedures (cat. no. 2007.0). This publication outlined ABS plans in the above areas.


Nick Vine-Hall, Chairman of the Census Working Party, has announced that “Thanks to lobbying by the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) the next Australian Census is to be saved in the National Archives of Australia at a cost of $19 million approved in last night’s budget.” [Please read the full statement.]

1st August 2004

We have been advised by the Government that:

  • The Government recognises that the retention of census data will be of potential benefit for, amongst other things, genealogical and medical research purposes. It also recognises that the option to retain name-identified data was chosen by a majority of respondents in the 2001 Census.
  • With this in mind, the Government is currently considering whether the 2006 and future censuses should give respondents the option of having their information retained.
  • The Government will communicate its decision on this in due course.

Earlier documents