I HAVE filled in my census form, but I want the authorities to know it was only under duress.
And no, I don’t have issues with civil rights or invasion of privacy.
I have issues with danger.
Even the very first question was dangerous: Name of householder.
I put my name, despite the fact that it’s our house.
“What’s this?” said my wife.
“It’s only a form. It doesn’t matter.”
“Well if it doesn’t matter, I’ll be the householder and you can be the Spouse or Partner.”
Then there was question 34: Did you have a full or part-time job of any kind?
For my wife I ticked the box that said: no, did not have a job.
“But it means did you go out to work. They want to know if you were earning money! Being a housewife doesn’t count!”
And question 46: did the person actively look for work?
“And how am I supposed to look for work when I spend my time washing your smalls, cooking your meals, babysitting your grandchildren and nursing your ego!”
“But that’s not work–”
Trust me, this form was written by a man. Not only is the word ‘housewife’ missing from it but there is nowhere on this form where you can give meaningful shape to your day unless you are gainfully employed in a number of stated endeavours starting with manufacturing and ending with community care services.
True, you can think up your own under: Other – please specify.
But housewifery does not qualify. In fact the word ‘housewife’ doesn’t appear anywhere on the form. Table dancers and strippogram performers have higher status in the Australian census than housewives.
Odd, I thought, given the Federal Government’s focus on family values.
At question 49 they asked if my wife spent any time providing unpaid care, help or assistance to family members because of disability or problems related to old age?
“Waddya mean ‘No’?”
Well, you don’t.”
“I told you – I wash your smalls, cook your meals and nurse your ego. You’re over 60, you’re a family member and you’re disabled. Or you soon will be if you don’t change some of these answers.”
They’re going to glean a huge amount of information from this form. They’ll know which areas have high incomes, what kind of people have more than one car, and whether we come from Anglosaxon, Celtic or Chinese stock.
But they won’t have a clue how many women work hard at home just keeping the family functioning.
I call that shortsighted.
The bloke who put this form together also wanted to know if we were Catholics
Or whether we were among Australia’s 2091 Satanists.
What possible use could that be to a national census?
The question on religion was optional, of course, but the real worry is that it was there at all. Religion isn’t supposed to matter, despite the fact that it’s been responsible for more wars than oil. But we still have it in our national census, which will dutifully report (a little triumphantly, I suspect) that 70 percent of Australians are Christian.
Actually that was the figure at the last census, in 1996. It might have gone down since then. Or up.
But why do we care?
Do we feel safer if we know there are more Christians (but if we have 70 percent Christians and rising crime rates maybe we should feel less safe?)
This is Australia. Why aren’t we more interested in who’s a league supporter and who’s watching union?
Or who’s heterosexual and who’s homosexual?
Who drinks Fourex and who drinks Tooheys?
Why isn’t there a place to write: housewife and Satanist; works 24/7 caring for incompetent spouse – but not for much longer…?