For those readers who aren’t Australian, tonight is census night. If you don’t know the drama that’s been happening around census lately, I suggest you google it. It’s a little (okay, completely) terrifying. For those who already know where I’m coming from, I’ve been sharing my concerns about the census for weeks now, so I was going into tonight’s festivities pre-pissed off, as it were. But having now completed the form, I am a towering pyre of volcanic misandrist rage.
Where were the questions we were promised after last census about gender, sexuality, abuse, family violence? Where was the third option for ‘sex’ at the beginning, for those of us who are non-binary or intersex? Am I to take it we still don’t officially exist? Where were all the questions about actual important issues upon which our government is right now forming legislation – like queer rights, gendered violence, racial oppression? How are those of us who are studying our country in order to make it a better place supposed to understand these core issues if we don’t even have access to accurate statistics?
There are a lot of questions that shouldn’t be asked. There is no way the ABS should be collecting or storing names or addresses, or previous addresses for that matter. Town? Sure. Previous town? Maybe. Actual address? THIS IS NOT A SODDING POLIC CHECK. I absolutely support those who are boycotting or partially completing their census forms. The government does not and should not have the right to force us to give up those details. If we CHOOSE to share them for posterity, that’s fine. But it is completely unethical to force us to provide those details, along with other personal information. Not only is there a very real risk of that data being accessed by those who shouldn’t access it, fear will lead to completely inaccurate data, as people choose to boycott, or to fill out a “donkey census”. Not just fear of hackers, but of a government that has already proven its complete lack of respect for its citizen’s privacy under the tenuous guise of ‘national security’.
Having said that, even if people didn’t have these fears, this census is basically useless. There is very little important data being recorded here. Sure, economic issues related to housing and income are important, but there are so many other issues where accurate data is desperately needed in order to inform policy. And we still don’t have that data. This census asks almost no questions to which a conservative government doesn’t want the answer. Our government doesn’t want to know how many queer people there are, or how many abuse victims, or how many people suffering mental illness. They don’t want to have to deal with those problems, and a lack of accurate data will allow the government to deprioritise them.
Two years ago, I was genuinely excited for this census. I thought it would finally provide accurate data about the number of LGBTQIA+ people in the country that could in turn lead to positive change. I thought it would shine a light on the sheer, overwhelming catastrophe that is gendered and racial violence. Issues relating to poverty, education, physical and mental health would be more clearly explored. We were promised these things, and nothing was delivered. Two weeks ago I was furious because I thought this potentially wonderful census was being threatened by the forced recording of personal details. Tonight I’m speechless at the sheer, unadulterated uselessness of the whole exercise. This census has been an epic fail from start to finish. The level of bullshit here is absolutely flabbergasting. That’s right, flabber-fucking-gasting. Fuck this, I need another cupcake.
Image from: http://edge.alluremedia.com.au/m/g/2016/08/census.jpg