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The History of Surveys in Australia

published November 10, 2023
Smiling woman sitting at a desk with a laptop, paperwork on it and a pen in her hand

Whether it's deciding the best place for a farm, keeping tabs on how many of us there are, or settling the debate on the best ice cream flavour, surveys are the go-to.  


For thousands of years, we've relied on people's opinions to make big decisions. Even today, companies like LifePoints team up with brands so you can take surveys and get rewarded for it (more on that later). 


Ever wonder where they started and how they've made a real impact, especially here in Oz?


When Surveys Were First Introduced


Like most good ideas, the ancient Egyptians got to it first. The earliest known survey was conducted by the Pharaoh and his administrators in 2300 BCE, who wanted to assess the state of agricultural land along the Nile after a flood. With this data they could work out the taxes people had to pay based on the land they farmed on. 


Then, during the Han Dynasty in China (206 BCE – 220 CE), the bureaucracy began surveying the population to determine the size of their population, and how much tax they could reasonably collect. Around the same time, the Romans counted heads as well. Lucky for us, they kept meticulous records, which historians used to gain insights into size of their empire. 


Why Surveys are Important in Research


  • Representation: A good survey is like a sneak peek into what everyone's thinking
  • Flexibility: You can take surveys anywhere and anyhow – face-to-face chats, online, you name it
  • Economical: Compared to fancy experiments, surveys are the wallet-friendly way to hear from loads of people


The History of Surveys in Australia


Down under, surveys have played an important role, especially when it comes to land, people, and all kinds of research.


Pre-European Exploration: 

Indigenous Australians had their own forms of mapping and territorial understanding, based on songlines and other traditional methods. However, these were not "surveys" in the Western sense of the term.


European Settlement (late 18th century):


When Captain Cook rolled in, the European-style surveys kicked off big time. We went from simple maps in the 18th century to defining farm borders, finding gold, and counting people in the 19th century.


19th Century:


Land Surveys: As settlers began to establish farms and homes, detailed information was needed to define property boundaries. Surveyors like John Oxley and Thomas Mitchell were notable figures in early Australian exploration and mapping.


Gold Rush: With the Gold Rushes of the 1850s, surveys were essential in establishing claims and mapping mining areas


Statistical Surveys: As the colonies grew, local governments recognised the need to understand their populations, their cultures and religion


Modern Day Surveys:


In 1901, Australia established the Federal Bureau of Census and Statistics, known today as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). They’re responsible for our national census as well as other major statistical gatherings. 


From drones doing aerial surveys and ones done through social media to uncover what’s trending, both the Aussie government and private companies are constantly on the hunt for new information. 


The latest of which was the Australian Marriage Postal Law Survey, which saw the country vote on same sex marriage in 2017. 


Surveys Today – Your Voice Matters


Across the internet and in your inbox there’s a ton of businesses who rely on your opinion to make decisions. However, choosing where and when to use your time can be tricky. That’s where LifePoints comes in.


Get Paid for Online Surveys in Australia


Big companies want to know what you think about their stuff before anyone else sees it. Join LifePoints, take fun, easy online surveys about new products or services, and score gift cards from top e-commerce brands like PayPal, and high street retailers including Coles, Myer and JB Hi-Fi.


How Much can I Earn Doing Online Surveys?


Taking paid surveys can give you some extra cash. But don't expect it to be like a full-time pay check. How much you earn from these surveys varies based on how often you do them and how many are up for grabs. Think of surveys as a cool side gig, not your main money-maker, and enjoy the perks it brings to those who participate.


Share Your Opinion, Get Rewarded with LifePoints


Surveys have evolved considerably from their ancient origins but remain pivotal in shaping our understanding of the world. From gathering data on agricultural lands in ancient Egypt to modern online questionnaires gauging public opinion on the latest washing powder, surveys have consistently offered a structured method to tap into collective knowledge. 


Their adaptability and efficiency make sure they’ll remain a crucial tool in research, business, and public policy for the foreseeable future.


Now it’s your turn to continue advancing the legacy of surveys, while getting paid for it! 

Sign up today or download the App to earn 10 complimentary points to get started