Seniors voice Census fears ahead of national survey

THE prospect of copping a fine for something she is struggling to control is frustrating Muriel Bates in the lead up to this year's Census.

Mrs Bates, 75, says a letter advising of an online log-in for Tuesday night's survey is yet to arrive at her Golden Beach home, let alone the hard-copy survey she has ordered.

"Everybody has been very concerned about this mess that has been made of the Census," Mrs Bates said.

She called the Census information line on Monday and said she was told her initial letter with the online log-in code had been posted the previous Tuesday.

Caloundra resident Muriel Bates is concerned her Census form will not arrive in time for Tuesday night's survey.
Caloundra resident Muriel Bates is concerned her Census form will not arrive in time for Tuesday night's survey. john mccutcheon

Mrs Bates has basic computer literacy but does not use the internet for private matters, such as banking.

She was unwilling to put her details into the online Census so has ordered a paper version of the survey to be delivered.

"I don't trust it and I'm not computer savvy if something goes wrong," she said.

She said the person she spoke with on the Census information line on Wednesday assured her the paper copy would arrive in time but she has her doubts.

"When I get it still remains a question," she said.

She said the prospect of being fined for not completing the survey concerned her.

"You can't send it in if you haven't got it," she said.

Sunshine Over 60 and Better Group manager Joy Morwood, whose social group has about 670 members between Caloundra and Gympie, said she would be doing the Census online.

But she guessed about half of the people in the group, which is primarily comprised of people older than 60, would not have the computer skills or equipment required to complete the online version.

Ms Morwood expected many of those people would rely on help from family or friends to complete the Census if they did not order the paper version.

Australian Bureau of Statistics Queensland Census Director Caroline Deans said if people could not connect to the internet on the night because of trouble with their computer or service then they did not have to do the Census straight away.

Ms Deans said people could do the Census before Tuesday or in the days after as long as they answered the questions according to what their situation was on Tuesday.

Similarly, she said residents who did not receive their paper surveys in time could fill them in when they arrived and send them back.

Ms Deans said the capacity of the paper form telephone request service had been doubled this week after it received an overwhelming amount of calls.

The number of operators taking calls about the Census has also been increased after coming under pressure throughout the week.

"We have recognised that the call volumes have been more than we've expected and we are sorry for the inconvenience that has been caused or some of the frustration that has been caused," Ms Dean said.

Ms Deans said it was incredibly rare that fines were issued for not completing the Census.

She said most people completed their form after being reminded about it.

Ms Deans said fines tended to be pursued for people who actively refused to participate, rather than those who forgot.

There will be instructions on the paper form as well as links on the online form to guide people through completing the questions.

"I think most people will find that the Census questions are fairly straight forward and they don't need to do any homework to work out the answers to them."

If people have working internet but are having trouble logging on they can call an inquiry service on 1300 214 531 to get technical help.


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