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As established in the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975, one of the ABS’ functions is ‘(providing) liaison between Australia and other countries and international organisations in relation to statistical matters’ (section 6(f)). During 2007–08, the ABS continued to meet its international responsibilities by:
The ABS’ involvement in the international statistical community takes a number of forms, including:
During 2007–08, ABS senior executives held the following positions on international bodies:
Brian Pink, the Australian Statistician, is –
Ms Susan Linacre, Deputy Australian Statistician, Social Statistics Group, is –
Peter Harper, Deputy Australian Statistician, Population, Labour, Industry and Environment Statistics Group, is –
The ABS continues to be involved in the development of international standards, including key international macro-economic standards, such as the revised System of National Accounts, the Balance of Payments Manual and International Investment Position Manual, 2008. More information on the ABS’ international work in these areas can be found in Chapter 14, Statistical standards and infrastructure.
VISITS TO THE ABS
The ABS received a number of visits from other national statistics offices, statistical agencies and international statistical organisations during the year, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Canada, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Vanuatu and Vietnam.
The duration and purpose of these visits vary, but all act to build stronger relationships with like organisations, to share knowledge. For example, the discussions held with the Philippines’ National Statistical Coordination Board during the year on poverty statistics, to improve their technical abilities, will ensure that the benefits extend beyond the participants to the National Statistical Office as a whole.
During 2007–08, the ABS Tasmania Office hosted a visit by Angsumal Sunalai, Deputy Secretary General of the National Statistics Office (NSO) Thailand, and 14 of his colleagues.
INTERNATIONAL COMPARISON PROGRAM
The International Comparison Program (ICP) is a statistical initiative to produce internationally comparable expenditure values, Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) estimates and comparative price levels. All major international development agencies, including the World Bank, the IMF, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Development Fund use ICP results to analyse economic and social conditions within their areas of concern. The ICP offers a powerful tool for comparative research on economic and social development.
The Asian Development Bank was responsible for coordinating the Asia-Pacific region’s participation in the ICP and the Deputy Australian Statistician, Peter Harper, is a member of the Regional Advisory Board.
The final results for the Asia-Pacific component of the 2005 ICP were published in December 2007 by the Asian Development Bank. The results covered GDP and its main expenditure components. Of particular interest was the inclusion of China, which participated in the ICP for the first time.
Australia is not part of the Asia-Pacific ICP but participates via the OECD’s PPP program. However, the ABS provided extensive technical assistance for the Asia-Pacific ICP and was acknowledged in the release of the results.
STATISTICAL TRAINING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
The ABS continues to contribute to international statistical training, through organisations such as the United Nations, the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP), the Secretariat of the Pacific Communities (SPC) and the IMF.
The ABS provides international statistical assistance to countries in the Asia-Pacific region seeking ABS advice and support and are high priority for the Australian Government. The ABS currently has three major long-term programs of technical assistance in place:
The ABS has had a long association with Badan Pusat Statistik—Statistics Indonesia (BPS—Statistics Indonesia) and the two agencies have signed a number of memoranda of understanding on cooperation in statistics.
AusAID is managing a Government Partnership Fund (GPF) to assist Indonesia as part of the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and Development. The Government Partnership Fund is a flagship of Australia’s enhanced partnership with Indonesia and provides a vehicle for supporting the further development of Indonesia’s economic governance and public sector management capabilities.
Specifically, the goal of ABS involvement in the GPF is to improve the Indonesian statistical system and to establish greater coordination and a stronger relationship between Australia, BPS and Bank Indonesia, with a mutually agreed identification of skill and capability gaps.
In 2007–2008, three missions were undertaken under the program. In the first, four staff of BPS—Statistics Indonesia visited the ABS to review the ABS’ Labour Force Survey, including its sampling methodology, field operations and survey outputs. The second mission, held in Indonesia, focused on the collection phase of the labour force survey. The third and final mission, also held in Indonesia, focused on improving the statistical methodology of the BPS—Statistics Indonesia Labour Force Survey, including sampling and estimation. A highlight of this mission was the opportunity to present a lecture to students at the School of Statistics of BPS—Statistics Indonesia, as well as senior BPS—Statistics Indonesia staff, on sampling of rare populations.
Further missions under the program are planned for 2008–2009.
The ABS has been involved in two main programs of assistance in the AusAID funded Pacific Governance Support Program. The first program covered the years 2005–2007, with the second taking place during 2007–2008. The aim of the both programs was to strengthen the national statistical systems of Pacific Island countries.
During the first program, the ABS in collaboration with the SPC, provided project management training in the Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu. In the second program, training was provided to Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.
During 2007–2008, the ABS continued its assistance to the Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO), under the AusAID-funded Vanuatu Statistical Institutional Strengthening Program. The program continues to develop capacity and capability of the VNSO through improved corporate governance.
The mentoring program for the Acting Government Statistician in leadership, management, budgeting and planning, which started early in 2007, continued during the year. Other activities planned are the delivery of technical assistance for rebasing both the Consumer Price Index and National Accounts.
OTHER STATISTICAL TRAINING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
In addition to planned programs of assistance, the ABS provided statistical advice and capacity building to many countries in the region, including:
Results from the 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALLS) were released in November 2007. The ALLS was conducted as part of an international comparative survey of adult skills coordinated by Statistics Canada in collaboration with, among others, the OECD and UNESCO. The ALLS study builds on the International Adult Literacy Survey, the world’s first comparative survey of adult skills conducted between 1994 and 1998. Other countries involved include Bermuda, Canada, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Switzerland and the United States of America.