11 April 2017
Transcript - #2017014, 2017

Interview with Del Irani, ABC Melbourne Drive

SUBJECTS: First insights into the 2016 Census.

JOURNALIST:

Minister thanks for your time this afternoon.

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

That’s a pleasure.

JOURNALIST:

So what does the ‘typical’ Australian look like?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Well the ‘typical’ Australian is a 38 year old female – Australia’s population has changed a lot over the past 105 years. The first census was held in 1911 and back then the ‘typical’ Aussie was a 24 year old male but women have outnumbered men in Australia since 1979. The ‘typical’ Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is also female, but she’s younger, 23 years old in fact. The snapshot of Australians that’s been released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today following the Census last August shows us a lot of interesting things. It shows that the ‘typical’ Aussie male is 37 and spends less than 5 hours a week on domestic work and the ‘typical’ Aussie female is 38 years old. She spends between 5 and anywhere up to 14 hours a week on domestic work and so maybe the ‘typical’ Aussie male should actually spend a bit more time on housework and domestic chores. That’s certainly an interesting find from last year’s Census.

JOURNALIST:

And it could be one of the many takeaways from this data. The 38 year old female who is this ‘typical’ Australian is also believed to be married, lives in a coupled family with 2 children and she lives in a house with 3 bedrooms and 2 motor vehicles. Did any of this data come as a surprise to you?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Well look there’s some really interesting data. You know obviously plenty of Australians will log on to the ABS website and start sifting through it. It’s just a snap shot, I mean a ‘typical’ Australian in Western Australia for instance has a little bit more space, they’re living in a 4 bedroom house and that’s similar to the results in 2006 and 2011, but in 2016 the ‘typical’ Australian home is owned with a mortgage. Location does make a difference. The ‘typical’ Tasmanian home is owned outright, while the ‘typical’ Northern Territory home is rented so there’s a few discerning differences between states and territories. In 2006 the ‘typical’ Aussie home was owned outright, so there’s a few take home lessons I think there. But it just shows what the ‘typical’ Aussie is. I am looking forward to the 27th of June this year when more detailed analysis from last year’s Census will be available. That helps to frame funding for the states, drilling right down to local areas and to local communities. I am really pleased that 96 per cent of households have responded to the Census and that is on a par with 2006 and 2011 and that shows that the Australian population has every confidence in the ABS, every confidence in what the Census does.

JOURNALIST:

Yes but Minister I want to talk to you about that because of course the Census was shrouded in controversy with the hacking and of course the shutdown during the time of the Census. There are some that are questioning of the reliability of this data. Can be sure that the information that we’re receiving is reliable?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Yes we can. The ABS assures me that, as the Minister responsible, we can rely on the data. No data was compromised, so Australians can feel reassured and the ABS confirmed that their data was safe, their data was not compromised and that the Census figures that are being produced are very reliable.

JOURNALIST:

And how will this data shape future policy in not only the states but nationally as well?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Well it helps every form of government, whether its local, whether its state, or whether its federal to know where the population is living, to know what the population is earning, that gender, race, religion, all those sorts of things. It’s drilled down to the local community level. That is how the figures are formulated to ensure that each and every local community, each and every electorate, each and every state receives funding. If there is a remote community that is in need of a school, is in need of a hospital, the data gathered in the Census by the ABS helps to allocate resources where it is most needed. So the data gathered from every remote and regional community is very important to help make informed policy decisions. That’s why the Census data is so important, and that’s how governments utilise the information derived from the data.

JOURNALIST:

Has there been any one area that has really stood out to you? You mentioned an interesting part that the number of women has outnumbered men and that has been a big change in the data over the years. Is there any particular area perhaps maybe in the health policy that you really see has stood out in the Census finding?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Well that is why we’re looking forward to 27 June 2017 when the main data in last year’s Census will be released. And we’re a very eclectic lot. Well today’s Census release does provide plenty of insight into the ‘typical’ Australian, it also shows we’re a big diverse community, and there’s nothing really that ‘typical’ about Australians – no two people are the same. The Census data obviously also drills down into how the growing proportion of people who are born overseas. So this release today is merely providing a snapshot. In June it will have a far more detailed analysis. That will be able to be used by governments, by all sorts of organisations to show what they can do, where funding is needed, where health and hospitals and schools and infrastructure are also needed. It will provide a more detailed analysis of the Australian population of race, of gender, of population trends, of where communities are aging, of where we’re getting younger, or where there are more migrants. And we’ll see that sort of detail provided from June onwards.

JOURNALIST:

And we look forward to that. Thank you Minister McCormack for your time.

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Thank you very much.