Census fine feared as some elderly struggle
Eighty-five-year-old Angela Mounsey fears she could be dragged into court and fined for failing to complete this year’s census which she says is confusing and frustrating.
The retired Pleasant Point woman says many other people, especially the elderly, will share her opinion as this year Statistics New Zealand aims to collect most of the information online. The census, held every five years, is on March 6.
‘‘I am worried I will not be able to fill out the forms, as they won’t arrive and I’ll be fined for not doing it because it’s compulsory,’’ she said.
SeniorNet South Canterbury president John Bain and Timaru Senior Citizens Association coordinator Robyn Baldwin say they believe many elderly may struggle with the online census.
However, Statistics New Zealand general manager of 2018 Denise McGregor said while people could be prosecuted for failing to complete the census, this was a rare outcome.
Mounsey received her census letter in the mail last week.
The information contains an 0800 number to ring to request a paper form of the census.
Because she and her husband, Lennox, do not have the internet, Mounsey promptly rang the number.
She said the phone call was confusing and despite several attempts she could not get through to the correct number.
She has tried calling back many times since then but has had no luck.
‘‘I keep ringing the number but all we get is a blank sound when we try to speak,’’ Mounsey said.
She said she had filled out a few census forms in her time and had never found it an issue before.
‘‘We don’t have the internet and don’t have cellphones so can’t do it online,’’ she said.
‘‘I just feel so frustrated as we haven’t been able to get anywhere.’’
She said being able to complete the forms was important to her.
‘‘I don’t mind having to do the census. I just want to be able to fill the forms out.’’
She thinks there will be other elderly people throughout the country who do not have internet connection and she hopes they are not left as frustrated as she has been.
‘‘I’m not sure what to do now,’’ she said.
McGregor encouraged Mounsey to keep trying the 0800 number.
The office fielded 10,000 calls on Monday from people enquiring about their census forms.
‘‘People need to follow the prompts on the phone and have their access code with them,’’ McGregor said.
‘‘Alternatively people can speak to one of our team.’’
She said while the number of people who had already completed their census online was yet to be tallied, elderly people were ‘‘right up there’’ in that number.
Anyone who hasn’t completed the census after March 6 will be sent a reminder which will be followed up by a visit from a field officer.
Pleasant Point woman Angela Mounsey has found the new census system confusing and fears she could be fined.