arrived last night. Census night is the ninth of this month.
My father says he is too old to be filling in forms. He gets an accountant to do the tax form and passes everything else to me.
I could have filled in the form on line. On reflection I decided against it. There were two reasons for this and the major one was to do with security. No computer system in the world is absolutely secure.
I am never happy filling in a form which asks for large amounts of personal information. I am even less happy about filling in a form which asks me for large amounts of personal information about someone else, in this case my father. This one must be filled in. The law demands it and there are penalties for failing to answer the questions.
Some of the questions however are rather curious. Where do I live now? Where did I live a year ago? Where did I live five years ago? These are no doubt designed to try and discover how mobile the population is but what of the people who have lived in more than one place in the past year? There are increasing numbers of such people.
Are you an Australian citizen? If not, where were you born? It sounds reasonable but which country did you come from? If you are a refugee you might have been born in one country and spent years waiting to come here. It would be useful to know that.
Do you speak a language other than English at home? My BIL speaks English in his own home but Greek to his parents. There is no sub-question for that - or any indication of how well he might speak Greek. There is a subjective question about how well someone speaks English.
On Tuesday I will help three people who cannot read or write English fill in their forms. They all speak English well enough to be understood but they cannot fill in a form. There is no means of indicating they had my assistance.
There is a question about assistance given to family members but no question about assistance given to immediate neighbours. It is a question which should be included to gain more information about urban isolation.
There is also a question about needing assistance with communication activities. I wish I could believe that question was designed to provide future assistance to people with special communication needs. It is not. It is designed to allow the government to find out what they need to do to inform people, not have people inform them.
There will be millions of census forms filled in. It will take a long time to analyse the data. It will be out of date by the time it becomes available so it will be, at best, only an indicator of what is going on in the country.
There is an optional question on the census. It asks about religion. I am going to leave it blank. What I believe is not something the government needs to know. I am not sure they can really use the other information they will get.