Monitoring the nation's pulse: The what, who, how and why of the Australian Census

About this event

Seminar Recording:

This webinar series is brought to you by the QUT Centre for Data Science and the Queensland Academy of Arts and Science.

Seminar Recording

In this Data Science in the News webinar, we will explore the important role data science plays in the Australian Census.


Professor David Lovell – Deputy Director, QUT Centre for Data Science


Mr Mark Harding – Program Manager, 2021 Census Data Operations

Ms Caroline Deans – Director, 2021 Census Dissemination

Dr Gentry White – Associate Professor in Data Science and Government Statistics Chair

Dr Aiden Price – Research Associate School of Mathematical Sciences QUT, Project Manager AusEnHealth

More about the Panel Session Topics

What’s new in the 2021 Census – the “what” – Mark Harding

The 2021 Census design has been guided by its overarching objectives: smooth-running Census, garners strong support from the community, and produces high quality data. Mark Harding will talk through what is new about the 2021 Census, and in particular how the ABS has adopted a user-centred design approach to delivering the Census. This year the ABS has faced the added challenge of running a Census during the pandemic. Mark will describe how the ABS has responded to COVID-19 and the impacts on Census field operations.

Value of the Census Data – the “who, how and why” – Caroline Deans

Census data is used to inform important decisions about transport, schools, health care, infrastructure and business. While many people are aware of how the Government uses the data, the Census is also heavily relied on by community groups and small businesses to improve the lives of individuals. Caroline Deans will cover some case study examples on the varying uses of Census data.

Caroline will also talk through what happens to the information collected, from when the data is collected through to when it is transformed into meaningful statistics. The 2021 Census is being conducted at a most interesting time and the data from this Census will be very important to show how the pandemic is affecting our economy and society.

Partners in Data Science – Dr Gentry White

Dr. White will speak briefly on the unique partnership between QUT, the CDS and the ABS outlining their current program of research and plans for the future.

AusEnHealth Project: Climate and Air Quality Vulnerability Index Development – Dr Aiden Price

The changing nature of many hazards, coupled with growing and ageing populations and infrastructure in exposed areas is leading to increased vulnerability across Australia and internationally. AusEnHealth is a multi-agency funded project with the aim to provide tools to support the assessment of population vulnerability through an environmental health lens. This has been achieved by combining air quality and climate data with demographics data, the latter being comprised almost entirely of Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

More about the Moderator and Panellists

Mr Mark Harding’s career at the ABS spans over two decades, commencing in 2000. During this time, Mr Harding has been involved in a number of Censuses and also led the ABS Population Survey Operations. He is currently the Program Manager for 2021 Census Data Operations and is responsible for the end-to-end processes from after the data is collected through to when the data is released.

Mr Harding is based in Sydney where he is currently working from home in his third month of lockdown with his wife and two children.

Ms Caroline Deans commenced her career at the ABS in 2005, although has been interested in statistics and their importance in decision making well before then. Ms Deans has a wealth of knowledge about the Census, having worked on the last three Censuses. She was responsible for managing the South Australia Census count in 2011, the Queensland count in 2016, and is now responsible for releasing the data for the 2021 Census.

Ms Deans grew up in Adelaide and moved to Brisbane in 2016 where she currently resides.

Dr. Gentry White is the current Associate Professor in Data Science and the Australia Bureau of Statistics Co-Chair in the QUT Centre for Data Science. Dr. White has been at QUT since 2013 and prior was a Research Fellow at the ARC Center for Excellence in Policing and Security and the Institute for Social Science Research at The University of Queensland since 2009.

Dr Aiden Price is a research associate in the Centre for Data Science, working as a project manager on the AusEnHealth Project: a national environmental health strategic planning digital twin. Aiden’s research is currently focused on spatial and temporal analyses of environmental and population health data, identifying the impact of bushfires on human health, and conservation-focused work through the lens of aesthetics in the Antarctic Peninsula.

Professor David Lovell is a Professor in the QUT School of Computer Science, Deputy Director of QUT’s Centre for Data Science, and leader of the Centre’s Data-Focused Decision-Making Program. David’s research interests lie at the intersection of humanity, science and technology, particularly data science. We humans are the ones who stand to benefit (or suffer) from systems that use data to make or inform decisions that affect our lives. David wants to ensure that science and technology are developed, designed and delivered with this in mind so that our world is better as a result.


Location: Online
Start Date: 17/09/2021 [add to calendar]
Start Time: 12pm
End Date: 17/09/2021
End Time: 1pm (AEST)