Cen­sus fine feared as some el­derly strug­gle

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - RACHAEL COMER

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.

PHOTO: DOUG FIELD/STUFF

Pleas­ant Point woman An­gela Moun­sey has found the new cen­sus sys­tem con­fus­ing and fears she could be fined.

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