I know census night has come and gone, but there’s been a bit of a kerfuffle about the use of different forms in remote Indigenous communities to the rest of the country. Sara Hudson from the Centre for Independent Studies posted this opinion article on the ABCs Drum website in which she describes the separate form for remote Indigenous communities as ‘census apartheid’. Her opinion article even made it to the ABC news website here. I highly recommend reading the comments on her article if you’re interested to find out more information and different opinions about the Interviewer Household forms.
I can completely see how the separate forms could be seen as discriminatory but this is not the first time the ABS has released different forms for remote Indigenous communities. In fact, they’ve been doing it since 1976, something that Sarah fails to mention in her article. You can read a history of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and the census since the 1967 referendum here. Also, I have the feeling that the ABS would be equally slammed by some people if they did not accommodate for low literacy rates and linguistic diversity in remote Australia and just gave people in these communities the same form as all other Australians. The ABS’s Indigenous Enumeration Strategy has been in place since 1986 and aims to work with Indigenous communities to find the most suitable and appropriate ways to gain a complete census count and accurate information this includes recruiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be census collectors and publishing a newsletter. The Interviewer Household Form may not be perfect, but it seems to be a fairly efficient way to gain accurate data in highly mobile and linguistically diverse communities.