Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Keeping count

Yesterday was census day in Australia (100th anniversary census, too). Everyone should have answered, or had answered for them, several dozen questions - far more than are asked in the rather timid US census. (And this one, unlike the US one, is compulsory - failure to respond risks a penalty of A$110/day.) For each member of a household (and anyone who happens to be staying the night of August 10th) details are demanded on ethnic origin, education, income, what kind of work you do, whether you do community service and how much, whether and how much housework or childcare you do, etc. And religion, too.

The religion question is one of the few which are optional. On the accompanying website, it is explained:

Why is it asked?
Church and religious organisations depend on the Census for information about how many people of their religion there are in different parts of Australia. They and others use the information to assess the need for religiously based schools, hospitals, community services and homes for the elderly.

How to answer the question:
Answering this question is optional.
• If a person’s religion is one of those listed, mark the box next to it.
• If a person’s religion is not listed, write the name of the religion in the ‘Other – please specify’ box.
• If a person’s religion is an Eastern Catholic religion such as Maronite Catholic, Melkite Catholic or Ukrainian Catholic, write the name of the religion in the ‘Other – please specify’ box.
• People who have non–theistic religious beliefs or other life philosophies should write their response in the ‘Other–please specify’ box.
• If a person identifies with no religion at all, mark 'No religion’.

I wonder how various kinds of Aboriginal people answer this.

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