DCA made a submission to the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the 2026 Census Topic Consultation. We believe the 2026 census is an opportunity to collect better data on cultural background and LGBTIQ+ communities. Our research shows that these identities can have a profound impact on individuals’ experiences of inclusion or exclusion at work.
DCA recommended that the ABS consider replacing the current Census questions about ancestry, with DCA’s first core measure from our Counting Culture research. There is currently no widely used standardised approach for defining, measuring, and reporting on workforce cultural diversity in a respectful, accurate and inclusive way. Currently, many Australian workplaces ask employees about their country of birth, and while this is a useful measure in some ways, just asking about ‘country of birth’ fails to capture Australia’s diverse cultural fabric. We consulted widely in developing this report, including with many culturally diverse Australians and experts in data collection. We believe these measures to be an accurate and respectful way to understand much more about our community than our current data sets allow.
Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Variations of Sex Characteristics
DCA strongly supports the inclusion of questions on sexual orientation, gender identity and variations of sex characteristics in the Census. We are aware of the extensive and thorough consultation that went into the development of the ABS Standard for Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation Variables. Adding these questions to the Census is crucial for fostering an evidence-informed environment for policy, program and service planning. What’s more, having a better understanding of the diverse make up of Australia is critical in fostering a more inclusive society for everyone.
Our research shows that these identities have a significant impact on the way people experience inclusion and exclusion at work. Our Inclusion@Work Index 2021-2022 found that:
- LGBTIQ+ workers (45%) report significantly levels of experience with discrimination and/or harassment than non-LGBTIQ+ workers (23%)
Collecting accurate data on LGBTIQ+ communities by asking the right questions on sexual orientation, gender diversity or variations of sex characteristics will enable policies that support LGBTIQ+ people and promote inclusion in the workplace and in the community more broadly.
DCA therefore made the following recommendations:
- That the ABS consider replacing the current Census questions about ancestry, with DCA’s first core measure from Counting Culture, which asks respondents:
How would you describe your cultural background? Your cultural background is the cultural/ethnic group(s) to which you feel you belong or identify. This background may be the same as your parents, grandparents, or your heritage, or it may be the country you were born in or have spent a great amount of time in, or you feel more closely tied to.
- That the ABS Standard for Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation Variables is added to the census.