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Pandemic produced unique family data

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Shut off: International and state border closures meant 96 per cent of Australians were counted at home on census night. Photo by Rodney Braithwaite

The 2021 census counted 2,178,094 more people at home than in 2016, highlighting the lack of mobility because of the pandemic which included lockdowns and closed borders during the census period.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place across the nation, 96 per cent of people counted were at home.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said because more families and households were together when the data was collected, the 2021 census presents a unique picture of Australian homes and families.

The COVID-19 pandemic may also have contributed to how Australians completed their census.

The census household response rate increased from 95.1 per cent in 2016 to 96.1 per cent in 2021, and the percentage of households completing online increased to nearly four out of every five.

The impact of COVID-19 restrictions and limits on overseas travel could also be seen, with a decrease of more than 80 per cent in the number of overseas visitors counted in the census, dropping from 315,531 in 2016 to 61,860 in 2021.

Australian statistician Dr David Gruen said the census was conducted at an unprecedented time in Australia’s history and provided a unique snapshot of the population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deeper insights on the impacts of COVID-19 will be available in the second release of census data in October.