National Census Day was today - where everyone in the land stands up to be counted ... or in our case, sits down at the computer to lodge their eCensus online. S had put her hand up for the task - and while she would have preferred to have done it on the iPad, we weren't sure that the eCensus website had been optimised for this technology - so she used the PC. Which is strange because the Census form and questions weren't ... PC. It's not often I take umbrage but I did tonight. I think I was more disenchanted because I had really been looking forward to it ... I'm not entirely sure why but this year's Census had caught my imagination, possibly because there are some major social issues around at the moment and this offered a chance for a true "snapshot" of what our communities and society are about.
The sticking point was the marital status question. There was no option for "de facto". While this may seem like a small point - especially as some people have pointed out that the "de facto" option was available when Person 2, 3 etc entered their relationship to Person 1 - it can not help but skew the results, especially if one's marital status is used as a key demographic in tabulating other information. It could have been fine if you knew every household in Australia is the traditional familial model - but we know they aren't ... there are many variations and permeations.
It would have been fairer, and more representative, if they had included more categories in the marital status question. The available options were married, divorced, widowed, single - and I'm not sure if there was a "separated". It did not give a definition of "marriage" - as in married in a church vs civil union in anything other than a church. It didn't included an option for "not married because I don't believe in marriage but I've happily been with my partner for more than 20 years" nor an option for "not married because my partner for more than 20 years and I cannot marry because it is not legal in this country for us to do so ... and any civil union we enter into overseas is not recognised here" nor an option for "de facto" for whatever reason eg I cannot get a divorce for religious reasons but my wife and I have been separated for 20 years and I have been re-partnered for more than 15 of them and have 4 children by that union. I wonder if "engaged" was an option?
As I said to S, just before I suggested we have no part of this flawed exercise - it looks as though they were doing a proper count but it turns out they were only including you in the count if you were "purple" - whatever "purple" might be.
And who knew that completing the Census was compulsory under an Act dating back to 1905 with the possibility of a $110/day fine being levied for non-lodgement? Can there be Census Conscientious Objectors and how would one lodge a protest - and where?