Understanding different population counts
Different Population Counts
Place of Usual Residence
Australia’s population can be measured in several ways:
Estimated Resident Population
Census counts by place of enumeration
Census counts by place of usual residence
Place of usual residence is a count of every person in
Australia on Census night, based on where they normally live.
Information about people who are not at home on Census
night is linked back to the area in which they usually live.
However, it is impractical to link the information about these
people back to their actual families, households or dwellings.
The Census of Population and Housing is collected every five
years. A Census form is delivered to households, boarding
schools, hospitals, hotels, camping grounds and other places
where people may stay. The aim of the Census is to count
every person in every dwelling in Australia on Census night,
the only exceptions are foreign diplomats and their families.
Estimated Resident Population
The Census count is the basic building block for the
Estimated Resident Population. As its name suggests, the
Estimated Resident Population is an estimate. This estimate is
based on Census counts of usual residents that are adjusted
to account for usual residents missed in the Census, including
residents estimated to have been temporarily overseas on
Census night. Further adjustments are made for births, deaths
and net migration in the period from the date of the estimate
to Census Night.
After the Estimated Resident Population is compiled for
30 June of the Census year, it is updated quarterly between
censuses. These quarterly estimates are revised each time
a population census is conducted. The Estimated Resident
Population is the most accurate count of the population.
Using Census data
Only a limited number of characteristics of the population are
available through Estimated Resident Population: age, sex,
marital status, country of birth and geographic location.
The Census collects a wider selection of characteristics that
are useful for a wealth of purposes. Census data can be
discussed in two ways, by place of enumeration or by
place of usual residence.
Place of Enumeration
The Census count for place of enumeration is a count of
every person in Australia on Census Night, based on where
they were located on that night. This may or may not be
the place at which they usually live.
The Census count by place of enumeration provides a
snapshot in any given area. Although the Census is timed to
attempt to capture the typical situation, the large number
of visitors to holiday resort areas, such as the Gold Coast and
snow fields, may result in a high enumeration count in these
areas compared with the usual residence count.
If we take the Statistical Local Area of Surfers Paradise
in Queensland as an example, the differences can be
clearly seen:
Estimated Resident Population 30 June 2006 - 20,184
Place of Enumeration Count Census 8 August 2006 - 30,977
Usual Residence Count Census 8 August 2006 - 18,505
Working Population, Journey to Work data
The Census also provides a count of the working
population. This consists of persons aged 15 years and
over who were employed in the week prior to Census night.
The data collected relate to all workers, regardless of the
hours worked. The Journey to Work data on which this is
based are used by transport authorities, associated bodies,
organisations and other interested people to plan public
transport systems, and for the development and release of
residential and commercial land.
Further reading:
Further information about the Census is available at the
Reference and Information section of the Census web page
at www.abs.gov.au/census
For detailed information on population concepts,
please refer to Information Paper: Population
concepts, 2008 (cat.no. 3107.0.55.006)

Understanding different population counts