The next census may still be three years away, but we’re being asked to speak up about what we want counted in 2026.
The census is conducted every five years and provides a snapshot of who we are and how we are changing as a nation.
Every new census is a chance to reflect on what are the important characteristics that identify us, and citizens are asked to provide the Australian Bureau of Statistics with feedback on what it is they think is necessary to be recognised.
Heading into the 2021 census, there were six topics shortlisted for further consideration and testing but ultimately not included:
▪ Non-binary sex and/or gender identity
▪ More contemporary descriptions of household and family relationships (including those with shared care of children)
▪ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural identity
▪ Journey to education (including mode of transport, and name and address of educational institution)
▪ Smoking status
▪ Sexual orientation.
Right now, a local activist is running a change.org petition for LGBTQIA+ representation in the 2026 census.
Ballarat raised Evalyn Venture believes the petition to include gender identity data on the 2021 census fell through due to conservatism within the ABS.
So as the ABS looks to putting together the 2026 document, Venture, a trans woman, is hoping locals sign the petition as places like Ballarat need the awareness to ensure access to critical medical and mental health supports.
“In the big cities there are a lot more services available to people. But if you go out to areas like Ballarat you have two, maybe three doctors who understand (gender diverse needs such as Hormone Replacement Therapy for those transitioning).
“So, by having that (census data) there it allows the Government to see that these people do exist in these regions, and we need (the right) medical professionals placed there” Venture said.
With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural identity also not making it into the 2021 census, Shonella Tatipata from the Centre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics says they’re especially keen to hear from Ballarat’s Indigenous communities and organisations.
“We’re asking what data is needed by Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities in the 2026 census, and really it’s just an opportunity to identify and connect with communities and households about what matters to them.”
Venture’s petition can be accessed here
Feedback can be provided to the ABS here. The first round of consultation is open until April.