How can we build 'the good society'?
'The good society' is one in which people have access to food, shelter, health, education, employment, civic participation, culture, rest, recreation, and each other. To achieve these things we need an evidence base to measure whether we are meeting our objectives as a community.
Do we have adequate access to housing? How are our living arrangements changing? How are our local economies changing and do we have adequate access to employment? What skills do we need to adapt to economic change? Are we planning adequately for our schools; our care of the aged; and our disabled? How is our cultural mix changing and how do we achieve and maintain social cohesion? Are our electoral boundaries fair?
In Australia, our ability to answer these questions is possibly under threat. The ABS decision to keep name-identified data longer has sparked a protest about 'Big Brother' implications. While these concerns about protecting our privacy are serious and important, very little is actually changing with how the ABS are conducting the Census. The ABS have always collected names and addresses with the Census and they employ well-established practices to protect our privacy. Glenn explores this matter in detail in his blog: Is your Census information safe?
Providing demographic and economic information in the Census is a central part of participating in our democracy and expressing our community mindedness is a great tradition in Australia and New Zealand, so we should be very careful not to do anything to undermine this essential resource.
This is a sincere appeal to all Australians to contribute to our democracy by simply and accurately filling in the Census form on 9 August.