Census night has come and gone and while it may feel like the snapshot of Australia will be off with half the population in lockdown, the intimate details on what we were doing on August 10 will still be greatly valued by at least one researcher.
Yes, there will be a large number of people abnormally working from home while others may not be working at all, but Professor Thomas Astell-Burt from the University of Wollongong said that type of information would be "a key item of evidence" he uses in the future.
"The Census provides up to the minute information for the whole country to understand where there are pockets of disadvantage, which is so important because then service providers know where they need to be working intensively to try and level the playing field," Professor Astell-Burt said.
"Where people are able to work from home they maybe more likely to spend their discretionary time outdoors, their surplus income ... in their local communities as opposed to where they used to go to work, that may fundamentally shift how things operate in local communities."
The academic leads the Population Wellbeing and Environment Research Lab at the University of Wollongong and predominantly uses Census data for health planning, and is enthused by the addition this year of a question regarding long-term health conditions.
Professor Astell-Burt said the information can be used in so many ways from pinpointing populations with particular health conditions in certain communities to work out what services may be there, to analysing massive behavioural changes in society as well as where there may be disadvantaged people.
Another new question this year related to participation in the Australian Defence Force, while the question on whether your home has an internet connection has been omitted.
Despite the UK this year introducing more detailed questioning around gender identity, the Australian Census did not, though it may be up for consideration at the next one in 2026.
Teresa Dickinson, Deputy Australian Statistician for the Australian Bureau of Statistics, said questions come and go over time and ultimately it is up to the government to decide which on the shortlist make the cut or are cut.
"Every Census we run through a consultation process on what topics should be included and on some topics how should we ask the question," she said. "When we did that for this Census we got 450 submissions to start off with ... things like veganism and pet ownership. We whittled it down to eight which we investigated, and then chose a couple on the basis of need and the fact they would ... make sense and be straightforward to complete."
As for people thinking the pandemic will skew statistics, the statistician said the current times were "not normal to how people were living in the past but it's our normal right now".
"We have done Census on the tail end of the Spanish Flu, the tail end of the Great Depression and immediately after World War II, as well as this one during the COVID-19 pandemic," Ms Dickinson said. "In each case you get a picture of how Australia is responding to the circumstances that they're in and how its changing as a country."
She noted the Census is not the only measure of Australian life with the ABS constantly conducting a wide range of research - such as on employment.
Up to 200 experts will crunch the numbers with the first release of data scheduled for release mid-2022. Census information is widely used by all levels of government, community groups, for electoral boundaries, where to put major infrastructure like hospitals, and on more local levels like in what languages should libraries be selecting books for their community.