Over the past century, thousands of kindly, civic-minded people seeking part-time work used to wander Australia’s streets knocking on doors, not once, but twice, first to drop off a census form, then pop by again to pick it up, clearing up any uncertainties as they went.
All that’s changed in 2016, and the five-yearly Census goes online for the first time and 10 million households are sent a 12-digit Census login number to access the survey.
But the change has been fraught, because the Australian Bureau of Statistics used Australia Post to send out the login codes in letters addressed to “To the resident”, so they looked like junk mail.
So what to do if you accidentally thought that letter contained an unsolicited credit card offer or discount shopping vouchers and you threw it out along with the catalogues that make up the bulk of Australia Post’s revenue stream nowadays?
First up, don’t panic. And check the recycling basket/bin for a letter for a letter with green text – that’s the one with the code. While Census night is officially tonight, August 9, you have until September 23 to complete the form and lodge it. The government has been at pains to assure everyone they’re not going to be running around slapping everyone with $180 a day fines for failing to complete it tonight.
If you’re reading this, then you most likely already have access to a computer and the internet, so there’s no need to order a printed copy of the Census form – although you can do that.
The best thing you can do right now if you don’t have a login number is chill and enjoy the night off while the rest of the nation does the paperwork.
Ringing the ABS right now is pointless. They simply can’t cope. As the Census website points out:
Do not worry if you have not received your Census materials. You will not be fined if you complete your Census after Census night.
Try calling again after August 10 when we expect call volumes to reduce.
But don’t think that excuses you from taking part in the census. Like all homework, you can get a late note, but you’re still expected to complete it.
Give the ABS a ring on 1300 214 531 in the next couple of days and follow the prompts. Hopefully you won’t have to spent too long on hold, but once you’ve told them you don’t have your code, they’ll send it via SMS so you can get on with filling out the census.
Alternatively, you can also get in touch with them online via the contact page here.
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