Census raises homeless, elderly concerns

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Census 2018 is here and with it, concerns about the homeless and rough-sleepers going uncounted.

The census gathers data about the country to inform the way forward- but what about the most vulnerable?  That's the question being asked by Marama Fox.

“For the homeless, they don't know where or what to fill out.  There are some that might not even know it's census time,” says Fox.

The March 6 census measures how many people and dwellings there are throughout the country. 

Statistics NZ says, If census field staff find a rough-sleeper, they enumerate (count) that person (and indicate on the dwelling form that the person is a rough-sleeper), but it is not feasible to find every possible rough-sleeping location in New Zealand and check for people in all those locations.”

Fox's concerns also include elderly people having trouble with the technology and those without phones being unable to call to receive forms.

If you don't have a dwelling where are the papers sent? But this year there aren't forms if you don't call and find them,” says Fox.

Responding to this concern, Statistics NZ says, “SeniorNet will open their seventy learning centers throughout the country for people to drop in and use their computers to access the census form with the help of SeniorNet staff.

The 2018 census is mandatory under the Statistics Act 1975.  Failing to complete the census risks being penalised.

Statistics NZ says, "Households who haven't completed their forms after these reminders will be visited by our field teams.  If people still refuse to take part after these visits, then Stats NZ will consider prosecution."

Despite the intention behind the census, whether or not the entire population will actually complete the survey is another story.

Census day is tomorrow and closes at midnight.  If you would like to request the paper forms or speak to someone about it in Māori, call 0800 236 787.