Contributed

OPINION: Why faith and sexuality matter this Census

GIVE me strength if you are one of those people considering boycotting next week's Census.

Don't prattle off some line about personal security and the government having too much information about you.
Are you kidding? Do you use social media?

Facebook has been collecting every little titbit about your personal life for the better part of decade.

And every time you complete one of those "fun" little quizzes where they analyse your profile - doesn't even the naïve part of you realise you're handing over personal information to some unknown entity?

Do you have a Google account? Are you logged into Google when you search for stuff?
 

Global companies like Facebook and Google probably know more about you than the 2016 Census questions will ever elicit.

And you've probably unwittingly agreed to let them on-sell a bunch of that information to other companies.

I'd be more worried about nefarious characters breaking into those databases than the Australian Government Census data.

You'll probably relegate me to the nerd category when I admit this.

But I have tough enough skin, so do your worst.

I actually love Census.

I just love poring over the figures.

Seeing how our society changes over time is fascinating.

One of my team has put together a "Who We Are" series on how we answered the questions on the last Census so we can compare them to our new answers.

You can have a look at the results below:

This year I'm particularly keen to look at any changes to religious faith categories and how many people identify themselves as LGBTI.

Since the last Census, we've had a Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

That has revealed horrendous abuse within Catholic church institutions and I can't help but ponder whether people have reassessed their faith.

Has the Muslim faith or Hinduism increased further as our country becomes more culturally diverse?

The trend has been for the number of people who tick "no religion" to rise.  How many people do not identify with any religion this time around?

But it's more than a geeky love of numbers, Census is so important in guiding our government to make decisions on our behalf.

The religion question is included in the Census because religious organisations are the biggest providers of services, outside of government, in areas such as schooling, health services, aged care services and community support facilities.

Did you know the cost of wrong information is to the users of these services?

If, for example, people of a particular religious affiliation do not provide the correct information, certain facilities might not be built that otherwise would be.

The atheist movement started a campaign on Facebook this year urging people to be true to themselves this Census and not declare they believe in Jedi or The Force.
 

Will you do the Census this year?

This poll ended on 04 September 2016.

Current Results

Yes, I love the Census

17%

Yes, I think it's important for authorities in making funding decisions

40%

Yes, but only because I don't want to be fined

17%

No, for personal security reasons

15%

No, Census is a joke

9%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.


Our good friends at Wikipedia have collated information from various media sources that show people who have declared themselves members of the Jedi order have reached 70,509 people in 2001, 58,053 in 2006 and 65,486 in 2011.

Apparently the 2011 figure puts Jedis just behind Sikhs and above Seventh Day Adventists.

Marking Jedi as a religion skews the census results.

Because the figure goes into the "not defined" category, our policy makers might think Australia is more religious than it is.

As we have this plebiscite argument, I am also keen to see how many people identify as LGBTI.

Do people feel safer revealing their status in today's society?

If this community represents a larger majority of our society than in the past, will our government take notice and have a closer look at marriage equality?

I could go on and on about why Census matters but I won't.

Please don't boycott the Census, or worse, answer dishonestly.

Apart from a fine, you could do yourself a serious disservice when it comes to public policy and government funding - especially if you are in a minority.

 


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

A 12-digit login code should have already arrived in your mailbox.

Visit census.abs.gov.au, use the code to login and complete your Census form.

You can fill it in now or on Tuesday night. You'll have two weeks from Tuesday.

If you cannot go online, you can phone 1300 820 275 to request a paper version.
 


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