Census ‘helps guide the nation’

For those gathering the leaves of their family tree, census data proves vital.

Traralgon family historian Lorri O’Connor relies on census data, dating back hundreds of years in England to trace her family history.

However, the Federal Government is proposing to slash costs by condensing the five-yearly census down to a small survey.

Gathering data from every household in Australia on the second Tuesday of August every five years provides government, businesses, organisations and interested community members with data which in turn helps them develop strategies and concepts to better serve the population.

Travelling across the globe to the places her family had lived as recorded in the nation’s census, Ms O’Connor said she would be gravely disappointed if Australia were to scale the survey back.

“The census plays an important role because especially in early Australia you can track your relatives or your ancestors back and find out where they lived, you can work out how old they were and what work they did,” Ms O’Connor said.

The 2011 census cost $440 million and the 2016 survey is expected to cost even more in line with technology changes.

However, Ms O’Connor believes the money the government saves on the survey may be counteracted by a lack of placement of infrastructure following the survey’s demise.

“It’s giving a picture of the whole of Australia, it gives a picture of who we are and what we’re doing and where we are,” Ms O’Connor said.

“I hadn’t realised until I’d been listening to people on the radio and TV how important it really is.

“It determines where we place schools and all sorts of infrastructure because we can see where the masses of people are forming.”

Then and now: census data changes in the Latrobe Valley between 2001 and 2011

Number of households that speak a language other than English

2001: 2364

2011: 2625

Number of Latrobe Valley residents born in countries other than Australia

2001: 9428

2011: 9759

Median total weekly family income

2001: $790

2011: $1236

Median total monthly mortgage repayments

2001: $542

2011: $1200

Number of men who had never married

2001: 8401 with only eight men over the age of 85

2011: 10,358 with only 27 men over the age of 85

Number of women who had never married

2001: 7166 with 13 over the age of 85

2011: 9331 with 22 over the age of 85