Census night: Aussies warned about $2,220 fine for misleading act

Australian houses on Sydney harbour, close up of Australian $100 notes.
Census night is less than a week away. Here's what you need to know. (Images: Getty).

Census night is only a few hours away, and people who fail to complete their Census face hefty fines.

In fact, under the Census and Statistics Act 1905, people who fail to complete the Census can be prosecuted and fined up to $222 a day.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) uses the Census to take a snapshot of what Australia looks like at a moment in time, including how big our households are, the incomes we receive, the religions we practice and the work we do.

Then, policy makers use this information to inform decisions around where to invest money and what the future looks like.

Census night occurs once every five years, and this year it falls on Tuesday 10 August.

While it’s designed to capture the nation on a single night, people who know where they will be on the night of Tuesday 10 August can fill their forms in already.

Some 1 million households have already submitted their Census forms.

“With many households still to receive their Census instructions, we are delighted with the participation we have received at this early stage,” Andrew Henderson, Census executive director and national spokesperson said.

“It’s a great reminder that people can complete their Census as soon as they receive their instructions if they know where they’ll be on 10 August. They don’t have to wait until Census night.”

Households that have failed to complete their Census will begin receiving letters from the ABS from 17 August and may also be visited by field officers, before potentially receiving a $220 fine for every day it is overdue.

Additionally, while people won’t be fined for making honest mistakes, deliberately providing false or misleading information on Census forms can trigger fines of up to $2,220.

If you’re away from home on Census night, you still need to complete a Census reflecting where you are that night, whether you’re staying at another person’s house or in other accommodation. And if you’re working that night, you need to include the details of your regular dwelling on your Census form.

If you live in a share house, you can fill your own form or complete one form for the whole household.

How do you complete your Census?

You can complete your Census as soon as you know where you will be on Census night, with the ABS already sending instructions to households.

To complete it online, head to, enter the Census number and temporary password provided on the letter delivered to your household.

Then it’s a simple matter of completing the form and clicking ‘Submit’.

If you choose to complete by paper, just complete the form and return to the ABS in the reply-paid envelope provided.

If you don’t have this form, you can request a paper form by calling the ABS’ automated paper form request service on 1800 130 250.

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