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Australian Census in 2016 – Mode of Travel to Educational Institution

Australian Census

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is seeking feedback on numerous topics for possible inclusion in the 2016 Australian population census. For any topic to make the census there needs to strong user support and justification. One such topic up for consideration is mode of travel to educational institution.

Currently the census includes the topic mode of travel to work.  The data collected via the census on mode of travel to work is widely used at the small area level for transport planning. It complements the data collected from the Workplace address/Journey to Work topic. They identify how people travelled to work on Census day (e.g. train, bus, car driver, car passenger and bicycle).

With a significant proportion of the community now engaging in education and likely to engage more so in the future plus the growing need to address transportation issues and health issues, expanding our understanding of how people travel to education is important.

The greater the understanding of how people utilise the various forms of transport the better we can address the demands and needs of the community.

For the topic mode of travel to educational institution to be included in the 2016 Australian census submissions need to be made to argue the case. The ABS has a submission form which can be completed online. The deadline for submissions is May 31, 2013.

Each submission has to be on the specific topic and needs to address the following points:

  • The topic is of current national importance.
  • There is a current need for data on the topic for small population groups and/or at the small area level.
  • There are no other suitable alternative data sources available for the topic.
  • The topic is suitable for inclusion in the Census.
  • There is likely to be a continuing need for data on the topic in the following Census.

Please consider making a submission. The wider and stronger the support the more chance that the ABS will collect this data and hence provide a richer picture of mode of transportation, including cycling in Australia and hence provide the data for improved infrastructure and education.

The submission form initially collects contact information and then asks the following questions:

Q9. Please define the topic and/or describe the modifications you are proposing to this topic for the 2016 Census. (This is a compulsory question). My response follows:

To collect data to identify how people travelled to an education institution on Census day (e.g., train, bus, car driver, car passenger, bicycle, walked). Note that I believe that walking is a valid means of transportation and should be included in the mode selections. I draw your attention to The Australian Commonwealth government’s Department of Infrastructure and Transport draft report, Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport which examines mode of transport to education institutions amongst other locations and it includes and sees walking as a valid means of transport.

Q10. Criteria 1: The topic is of current importance. (This is a compulsory question). My response follows:
Note: What specific purposes will the data be used for? Please consider the following when addressing this criteria:

  • Uses in policy-making, long-term planning and social and economic application
  • What benefits will flow from this data
  • The consequences if this topic was not included in the 2016 Censuses
  • In particular, please consider what activities could not take place or would be significantly reduced or degraded in quality.

Transportation is a growing significant national issue, with congestion in particular a topic of concern, along with the environmental and related health issues that arise from a mobile or less than ideal mobile society. Having a richer understanding of how we travel to significant places of activity (including work and education) are very important to developing our understanding of demands on physical infrastructure, the environment and the health of the population.

At the national level the federal government has a strong focus on transportation and in particular in the context of cycling and walking is currently consulting on how we may increase these modes of transport (see the Department of Infrastructure and Transport draft report, Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport and the National Cycling Strategy 2011-16 for example). To support and to enhance the value of these strategy and similar comprehensive quality data is required.

Furthermore having an understanding of how Australian’s travel to education institutions could be widely used at the small area level for transport planning. Education institutions are generally large entities with a large population of users and frequently a significant impact on local infrastructure. The data collected by this topic can complements the data collected from the Workplace address/Journey to Work topics.

Should this topic not be included in the 2016 Census other important government strategies such as the National Cycling Strategy 2011-16 and ongoing planning for transportation will be undermined by the lack of quality data.

Q11. Criteria 2: There is a current need for data on the topic small population groups and/or at the small area level. (This is a compulsory question). My response follows:
Note: Please consider when addressing this criteria:

  • At what geographic level will data from the topic be required
  • For which population groups will the data from the topic be required

The data would be used at the Federal level, the State level and at the local government level for transportation planning purposes and for broader strategic purposes in a number of areas including transportation, urban planning, environmental planning and health planning.

It would also be used by education institutions and by community groups such as bicycle transportation groups (e.g., Bicycle Transport Alliance, WestCycle, Fremantle Bicycle Users Group) in developing proposals for improved infrastructure.

Q12. Criteria 3: There are no suitable alternative data sources available for the topic. (This is a compulsory question). My response follows:

  • Are there alternative data sources available for this topic? If yes, please specify, and consider the following in relation to these data sources when addressing this criteria:
  • Why are these data sources not appropriate for the purposes indicated in the first criteria
  • Will these data sources provide high quality data for the entire population, and/or for small population groups and/or at the small area level
  • Name of alternative data source and responsible organisation if known

To my knowledge there are no suitable alternative data sources available for the topic.

Q13. Criteria 4: The topic is suitable for inclusion in the Census. (This is a compulsory question). My response follows:
Note: Please consider when addressing this criteria that Census topics should not:

  • Upset people by invading their privacy to an unacceptable degree. The information you will get from such a topic would be subject to bias and will affect other data used and collected in conjunction with it
  • Be subjective (i.e. likely to have varying interpretations for individuals, such as “How would you rate your overall health status”)
  • Seek information which may not be generally known such as “where was your maternal grandmother born”
  • Be complex to code or difficult to process. You should consider the way answers would need to be classified
  • Require people to remember things they are unlikely to be able to, for example “What was your income five years ago”
  • Seek opinions or attitudes
  • Require more than one or two questions to obtain the required information
  • Require an overlong explanation or instructions to ensure an accurate answer. If the type of question needed cannot be understood with minimum of explanation, it is not suitable or appropriate for inclusion in the Census

The Census currently asks a similar question in respect to mode of travel to work. This is a similar topic with a focus on educational institutions. I do not believe that the question is subjective, that is does not invade ones’ privacy to an extent that would be of concern, that it does not seek information generally not known, be complex or difficult to process, it does not require recall of things from the past and it can be answered with a single question.

Q14. Criteria 5: Is there likely to be a continuing need for data on the topic in the following Census? (This is a compulsory question). My response follows:
Note: Please consider the following when addressing this criteria:

  • There is likely to be a continuing need for data on the topic in the following Census
  • Will there still be a need for data on this topic at the time of next Census in 2021, and into the future

As with the mode of travel to work, I would argue that a mode of travel to education institutional will collect data that will be of value for planning purposes for the foreseeable further. Transportation and education are long-term critical topics in our society.

Q15. Please also consider the following points in relation to the topic and include in your submission: (This is a compulsory question). My response was:

  • What data output items will be required for the topic
  • Please provide details of the output categories required and, if appropriate, ranges/descriptions for each category
  • What cross-classifications will be needed with other Census topics
  • Could this topic be included on a 10-yearly cycle rather than a 5-yearly cycle

The data output items will be the modes of transport: bicycle, walking, public transport, driver of a car, and passenger in a car.

I would expect the data to be cross-classified with the Mode of travel to work data and to be aggregated down to the local government area at least.

I believe that the data needs to be collected on a five-year cycle to ensure that trends are identified in a timely manner for planning purposes. Transportation demands need to be met on a fairly short timeframe.

The next question is question 19 which asks:

Q19. Would you like to provide any further comments on the proposals for the 2016 Census?

I didn’t have anything to add to my submission so left this question blank.

Q20. provides the opportunity to attach a file to submission up to a file size limit of 100mb.

There ends my submission.

* The image used in this post has been sourced from Brisbane Occasional Photo

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