A change of data collection boundaries has been confirmed as the reason why Jerilderie’s housing and population statistics appear to have dropped.
Murrumbidgee Council last week raised concerns about results from the 2016 Census which show a reduction of 23 ‘private dwellings’ in Jerilderie.
The 2016 statistics also showed a population decline of 41 people between the 2011 and 2016 Census nights, and nine less families.
It prompted questions from general manager Craig Moffitt as to whether Jerilderie and Murrumbidgee Council’s rural residents were actually counted in the 2016 Census.
Since the report in last week’s Southern Riverina News, The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ People, Culture & Communication Division confirmed the reductions were not a true reflection of the results.
A spokesperson from the ABS said because the boundary areas had changed, the 2011 and 2016 data sets are not ‘‘directly comparable’’.
He said in looking at relevant smaller statistical areas, the data for the Jerilderie area actually shows an increase.
‘‘The ABS does not determine these boundaries, and it is not uncommon for such boundaries to change over time,’’ the spokesperson said.
‘‘It is possible to apply the 2011 town boundaries to the 2016 Census data, by adding together the correct combination of smaller statistical areas (called SA1 areas) in and around Jerilderie. This gives comparable numbers to 2011, with a slight increase in dwellings.
‘‘Looking at the wider Tocumwal, Finley, Jerilderie (SA2) area which has the same geographical boundaries as 2011, there has been an increase in population.’’
The comparable data sent by the ABS shows the number of dwellings in Jerilderie increased from 562 homes in 2011 to 573 in 2016.
There was an increase in the population by seven, from 1,070 in 2011 to 1,077 in 2016 and the number of families remained stable at 269.
Murrumbidgee Council acting general manager Andrew Crakanthorp said the revised Census figures paint a more accurate picture.
‘‘Council welcomes the revised figures as released by the ABS following the story last week,’’ he said.
‘‘Anecdotally, our council area is experiencing growth as all three communities are seeing the construction of new dwellings.
‘‘We know that the rental market in all three towns is very tight and this reflects the upswing in economic activity and investment in rural related business across the council area.’’
Mr Crakanthorp said while the clarification is appreciated, he said there must be some uniformity in the collection of data to limit similar confusion in the future.
‘‘It’s unfortunate the manner in which the ABS reports on the data collected can be influenced at short notice,’’ he said.
‘‘The ever-changing boundaries used by the ABS have contributed to the confusion around the interpretation of the population trends for Murrumbidgee Council and our communities.
‘‘Having said that, I am reassured that the ABS recognise the importance of the accuracy of the data that they report on, as the reporting can have a significant impact on the self-perception that a community has regarding both population trends and the increasing level of economic activity in a growing council such as Murrumbidgee.
‘‘The revised figures now accurately reflect the positive business climate that is driving development in Murrumbidgee Council.’’