Taylor Burrell Barnett

Why the census helps us shape communities

Author

Karen Hyde
Principal

09 Aug 2021

It's census time! On the 10th August 2021 the biggest data count in Australia takes place.

As planners, we use data to help identify and solve a range of urban design challenges. The data collected in the census plays a crucial role in helping us shape our communities.

10th August 2021 is #censusday. Census day comes around every 5 years and is compulsory for all Australians. Many people might not know what the census is actually for, or how the data is used, so we thought we’d share our perspective on why the census matters to us as planners.

Aside from outcomes like helping to inform Government decisions on where to spend on infrastructure and community facilities; planners use the census data to learn about the communities we are designing for. And communities change a lot over time. The census provides crucial data on age groups, social-economic conditions, and other demographic and social trends which are directly used when planners and modellers are designing for current and future communities. Decisions about transport links, precinct features, density of housing, streetscapes, and more are all influenced by the data gathered about the people living in the place.

One example of how census data contributes to the work of planners is a previous project TBB completed for City of Stirling. In 2016, TBB prepared a Community Profile Analysis (based on the ABS data) to inform the preparation of the City’s Local Planning Strategy and Better Suburbs Place Based Planning Program. The Local Planning Strategy sets out the long-term planning directions for the City of Stirling, known for its thriving population and positioning as a City of Choice.

Because the census aims to get accurate data from every person in Australia – it provides excellent data to determine the population, where they live and how they live. In 2016 the census found there were 23,401,892 people in Australia, and their median age was 38. It will be interesting to see how this has changed, especially in the current COVID environment where overseas migration has been significantly impacted.

So, when you sit down to complete your census, take a moment to think about how you are contributing to shaping the future of Australia.

Meanwhile, our team will be eagerly awaiting the findings from the ABS to see how we apply them to creating great places. Because it’s the people who make a place.

Author

Karen Hyde
Principal

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