A MONTH after the first same-sex marriage surveys were mailed out, the response from Australians continues to defy expectations.
The latest estimate from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed today that 10.8 million surveys survey forms had been returned as of Friday, 13 October.
About 16 million forms began to be sent out on September 12 and since then about 67.5 per cent of them have been returned. The number of returned surveys increased by about 800,000 in the week since the last update.
Previously the ABS revealed an estimated 10 million survey forms had been returned as at Friday, October 6 — about 62.5 per cent of Australians. This was also an increase of about 800,000 from the week before.
With three weeks left to go until the survey closes on November 7, the response does not seem to be dwindling yet.
“These figures have defied expectations that the number of returned surveys would steadily decrease over the final weeks of the campaign,” Equality Campaign’s Alex Greenwich said.
“Many Australians have pledged to return their survey forms before the 27th of October, and it seems that that’s what they intend to do right up until the deadline.”
The Equality Campaign’s Shirleene Robinson said despite living busy lives, Australians hadn’t forgotten about their LGBTI family and friends.
“Australians have recognised how important this issue is to their family, friends and colleagues and are doubling down to ensure that when this campaign is over we are left with the fair, equitable and inclusive country that we all want.
“This is a great result and confirms that Australians want to get this done and are returning their surveys in record numbers.”
Many believe the Yes vote will prevail as polls have suggested most Australians support same-sex marriage.
A recent YouGov-Fifty Acres poll of 1054 adults found 61 per cent of those who had voted, supported the Yes campaign while 35 per cent voted No.
Last week Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told the audience at a Fairfax media event in Sydney he believed Yes would win.
The minister is personally against changing the law but has pledged to vote for it in parliament if the Yes campaign is successful.
Treasurer Scott Morrison, who also supports traditional marriage, said he would wait to see the results.
“I mean Australians are having their say at the moment. That’s what I wanted them to have,” he told ABC TV.
For those Australians who have not received their forms, they only have until 6pm this Friday, October 20 to request a replacement.
The form has to be completed and returned by October 27 for it to be counted.
ABS Deputy Australian Statistician and Taskforce Lead, Jonathan Palmer, said people should not delay and send back their completed survey form in the Reply Paid envelope right away.
“We’d like to ensure we have the highest participation rate possible for this voluntary survey,” he said.
“We strongly recommend that you post back your completed forms straight away and certainly no later than 27 October to make sure you have your say.
“If you haven’t received your form, or it has been lost or damaged, only days remain for you to request a replacement form and have any previous form invalidated.
“Get a new form via the ABS website, visit a capital city or regional pick-up location or call the Information Line on 1800 572 113 open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week,” he said.
“There’s also a paperless option available for people travelling or living overseas or those who might find it difficult to participate because of an illness, injury or disability.
While survey forms must be received by 6pm (local time) on 7 November 2017 to be included in the count, the more received before this date ensures they get through the postal system and arrive in time for processing. The results will be published on 15 November 2017.