2026 Census (Phase 1) Privacy Impact Assessment


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) engaged IIS Partners (IIS) to undertake Phase 1 of the 2026 Census Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), which focused on the preparation, planning and development aspects of the upcoming Census.

The ABS conducts the Australian Census of Population and Housing (the Census) every five years. It seeks to count every person and dwelling in Australia on Census night and is a key source of information about small geographic areas and small population groups across the whole country. The Census form asks questions about every person in the country, including their age, country of birth, religion, ancestry, language used at home, work and education.

Census data is also integrated with other datasets to form the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP). MADIP provides whole-of-life insights about population groups in Australia, such as the interactions between their characteristics, use of services like healthcare and education, and outcomes like improved health and employment.

Planning is underway for the 2026 Census. The ABS will invest its resources – including in the deployment of technology and use of data – to continue to:*

  • Achieve high quality Census data at a national, state and small area level to inform decisions so that the right services can be provided across Australia
  • Maintain and grow the value of the Census for all Australians
  • Deliver a safe Census with a good public experience.

Any move to increase or change data use for these purposes must consider the relevant privacy context. The 2026 Census will be run in an environment where privacy is increasingly important to the public and where government agencies are facing greater scrutiny over accountability when collecting and using data from the Australian public. The ABS must be transparent about how the 2026 Census is conducted and provide assurance to the public that their data is secure, being put to good use and not being misused.

The ABS has prepared a 2026 Census PIA Plan, which commits to managing, minimising, or eliminating potential privacy impacts of the 2026 Census through a Privacy by Design approach and the commissioning of comprehensive and independent PIAs. The ABS is undertaking a phased approach to the PIAs for the 2026 Census:

  • Phase 1 PIA – Preparation, planning and development (March to September 2023)
  • Phase 2 PIA – Build and design (March to September 2024)
  • Phase 3 PIA – Testing operational readiness (March to June 2025)

The ABS has engaged IIS Partners (IIS) to undertake Phase 1 of the 2026 Census PIA, which is the subject of this report.

ABS, ‘Privacy Impact Assessments‘. 15 February 2024.
IIS Partners, ‘2026 Census (Phase 1) Privacy Impact Assessment‘, 15 February 2024

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