It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will leave a dark stain across the entire world for quite a while. It is still early days, but data is already becoming available regarding employment and deaths. Clearly, the biggest impact on Australia will be financial with job losses and an overall downturn in the economy. At WESTIR, we are social researchers, not economists. This means that although some aspects of the economy may be discussed in the context of its effect on the ABS 2021 Census, this paper will not attempt economic analysis.

This paper does not intend to answer questions but rather raise issues, propose some potential impacts on the Census Data and explore a range of outcomes and scenarios. How big does a major event have to be, before it affects the Census data, or causes a Census to be delayed or cancelled?

At the time of writing, Victoria was coming out of a severe second wave that had caused increased restrictions in Victoria, and other states to respond with border closures, to prevent Victorians from entering their states. The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and changing and this paper merely documents a point in time, rather than providing answers or a conclusion.