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Defence Census
putting the people into our planning


On 12 March 1991 the Australian Defence Force (ADF), in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Family Studies, successfully conducted the first Census of permanent ADF members and their families. The aim in conducting the Census was to establish an authoritative and credible base-line profile of ADF members, with and without dependant family members, which would assist in developing appropriate policies for ADF conditions of service and family support.

Following the 1991 ADF Census, the then Defence Force Personnel Policy Committee decided that there was a need to conduct a Census at four yearly intervals to progressively develop credible, authoritative and up to date data consistent with the issues covered by the 1991 Census. The second Census, again for permanent ADF members only, was conducted in March 1995 and had a response rate of 81%. The third Census, in March 1999, was widened to include the Active Reserve. This census had a response rate of 70% for permanent members and 30% for Reservists. The fourth census in 2003 included Defence Australian Public Service (APS) employees, thereby truly becoming an all-inclusive Defence Census.

The last Defence Census was held in April 2015. For the first time in Census history, Defence personnel were given the option to complete the Census online or by the traditional hard copy questionnaire. As for previous censuses, participation in the Defence Census 2015 was voluntary. Of the 95 705 Defence personnel invited to contribute to the 2015 Defence Census a total of 48 335 personnel participated; representing a response rate overall of 51% of the Defence workforce. Across Defence, 54% of ADF (P), 29% of ADF (R) and 58% of APS employees participated.