In the lead up to August 9, known by all as ‘Census Night’, many Australians were left dumbfounded at the obligatory task of completing the national, five-yearly Population and Housing Census. For the first time, the survey was brought into modern-day times, and Australia was encouraged to jump online and complete the form electronically.
Yet the 2016 Census had little appeal, apparent with the trending social media hashtag #CensusFail’s popularity. Not only was the server incapable of handling an estimated 1 million users lodging online at any given time that evening, but headlines that the ABS were illegally keeping data for longer than necessary, the first-time requirement to leave our full names on our forms, the alleged scare tactic for a $180 fine per day the form was overdue and the rumours surfacing of international hackers gaining access into the system all added to the national disgruntlement of the task.
But negative backlash aside, surely there must be a point to the ABS documenting such wide-scale data?
So what can the 2016 Census teach us about the real estate market?
Despite its national repulsion, the Census can offer us invaluable information on Australia’s property, including shifting trends in various residential areas, and how some neighbourhoods are faring better than others. This is because for the first time, the Australian Bureau of Statistics is retaining our data to keep track of our behaviours.
Real estate agencies will have access to be able to crunch the numbers and identify growing and decreasing populations and the median and average ages of these populations. What’s more, we will soon have further details on residents’ cost of living as well as marital status, income, employment, religious practices, sexuality, family size and education. These data may help property investors and home buyers alike form decisions on which areas they would rather pursue over others.
So what does this mean for Brisbane?
For the first time since 2011, Brisbane’s demographic profile will be unveiled once again, with data to help our country better understand the needs of our populations, in terms of health, housing and education, but also with infrastructure. While five years mightn’t appear to have sparked major changes, a comparison can help gain greater insight into what to expect in future years to come. These indicators help us learn if growing families are choosing to relocate elsewhere when established, if individuals are remaining in the area from one life stage to the next, or if mature couples downsize the family home in other localities. We can distinguish between those Australian households fit to buy, and those opting to rent. We can better allocate our time and resources to construction that is fitting demand.
According to the major news outlets, it might be a while before these figures are released to the general public, but other bodies may have less restricted access. However, if current trends are anything to go by, then the transparency of our demographic and access to public data for the greater good will continue, so we may as well profit from it as much as we can.