You may be a Jedi or even a pastaferian, just don’t expect it to be acknowledged in this year’s census.
On August 9, millions of Australians, whether living at home, in tankers, on submarines or in remote communities, will be asked more than 60 questions about their profession, religion, income and the makeup of their family.
At the launch of the 2011 census in Sydney on Wednesday night, Federal Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten asked people to keep the jokes to a minimum.
“In 2006, 55,000 Australians marked themselves down as Jedi. That’s not a recognised religion in Australia,” Mr Shorten told reporters.
“You hear all sorts of discussion in the social media about calling yourself a pastaferian, which is a worshipper of pasta.
“That is funny, but we would rather you fill in the census correctly.”
The census, which this year celebrates 100 years, provides a “treasure trove of information” that drives government policy and investment in health, education and infrastructure, Mr Shorten said.
“It will help government to be able to make important decisions based on the best possible information.”
He said it also gave vital insight into social trends for businesses and government.
“Are we marrying more? Are we divorcing more? Is grandma still at home? Are the kids still not moving out anymore?
“The way Australians are organising their lives is often in advance of what business and government are doing in the way of policy.”
Australian statistician Brian Pink said this year’s census is focusing on reaching all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, as well as the 19 to 34 age group.
People are also being encouraged to hop online and fill in the eCensus.
Looking back over the census’ history, Mr Pink said it provided an interesting and often quirky glimpse into where we have come from.
“A century ago the Australian population was a little under 4.6 million.
“Collectors went around their business on horses, bicycles and camels,” he said.
“It was the 1901 or 1911 census that had the question, which went something like, ‘How many imbeciles or idiots do you have in your house?'”