Promotion of Australian Public Service (APS) Values in the ABS
The ABS has traditionally operated within strongly held principles relating to relevance, integrity, access for all, professionalism and trust of providers. These principles are fundamental to the ABS performing its role as an independent provider of statistical information for Australia and the strength of these principles has been confirmed by independent studies.
The importance of the APS Values, with which the ABS principles are entirely consistent, is reflected and integrated into the day to day management and operations of the ABS in a number of ways. For example: employees’ obligations to uphold the APS Values and abide by the Code of Conduct are promoted in training courses from induction through to senior management development programs; actively applied through personnel management processes, supported by guidelines and procedures which themselves take account of the Values; and are reflected throughout ABS corporate material and readily accessible to employees through the ABS Intranet. Posters on the APS Values and Code of Conduct are displayed throughout the Office and APS Values bookmarks have been distributed to all staff and are given to all recruits.
The ABS was one of six agencies selected to participate in a study conducted by the Australian Public Service Commission in early 2003 to evaluate the extent to which agencies incorporate and uphold the APS Values, including evaluating the adequacy of systems and procedures in agencies for ensuring compliance with the Code of Conduct. The project team reported strong feedback from ABS staff that the ABS is an ethical organisation that upholds both the APS Values and the ABS principles. The project team also found that a number of systems and procedures in place in the ABS support elements of the Values and Code of Conduct, and that staff consulted as part of the study attested to the effectiveness of those systems and procedures.
ABS Service Charters
The ABS had two service charters during 2002-03.
The Client Service Charter describes the relationship between the ABS and users of its products and services. The Charter was developed in consultation with a representative sample of clients. The Charter also offers guidance to clients wishing to provide compliments or register complaints on any aspect of client relationship or services. Copies of the Charter are available on the ABS web site and through bookshops located in each ABS office.
The Business Surveys Charter sets out the relationship between the ABS and businesses which provide it with information for statistical purposes. The Charter explains how businesses can seek help from the ABS. The Charter also provides for businesses to ask for a review of the complaints handling process.
The Charter was developed in consultation with representatives of small business and is reviewed annually. Changes were made to the Charter in 2001 to clarify the procedures for obtaining information about ABS collections and for seeking exemptions from completing individual surveys. The Charter is provided to new respondents in collections involving businesses. It is available in English, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Greek and Arabic. The Charter is also available on the ABS web site.
Both the Client Service and Business Surveys Charters include performance standards for the relationships between the ABS and its clients, and its service delivery. Performance against these standards is the subject of ongoing review, as are the Charters themselves.
Social Justice and Equity
ABS support for the Charter for Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society is demonstrated primarily through the provision of statistical information available to government and community groups to assist in developing and monitoring access strategies in relevant fields, and by taking action to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers in the collection of data.
The ABS work program takes account of the Charter principles, and meets government needs for information to support social justice policies, by the identification of specific population groups of policy interest in censuses and surveys concerned with various aspects of social wellbeing. Such population groups include Indigenous Australians, immigrants, people with disabilities, unemployed people, older Australians, women and children. In 2002-03, the ABS continued to provide data on population, health and welfare, education, employment, unemployment, underemployment and other topics relating to labour force participation, earnings and income, housing and recorded crime and justice administration.
In 2002 the Indigenous Social Survey was conducted to collect information on the personal and social circumstances of Indigenous people. The 2003 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers was developed over 2002-03, and went into the field in June 2003.
The five-yearly Census of Population and Housing enables analysis of many aspects of social wellbeing for a range of population groups and for small geographical areas. In 2002-03 a range of statistical information was released from the 2001 Census, including community profiles (summary information about the characteristics of the population in areas of Australia), a profile of the Indigenous population, and a profile of the working population.
In 2002-03, the ABS released a range of other statistical publications relevant to social justice and equity. Continuing its regular contribution to this area was Australian Social Trends, 2003 (cat. no. 4102.0) the tenth edition of the annual publication drawing on the ABS and other official statistics to inform on social conditions and wellbeing in Australia. Education and Training Indicators, Australia, 2002 (cat. no. 4230.0) was the first issue of a biennial series providing summary statistics and commentary at a national level on education and training providers, financial and human resources, participation, outputs and outcomes and the wider context within which education and training takes place. National Health Survey: Summary of Results, 2001 (cat. no. 4364.0) made available a range of data on the health status of the population, their health-related actions including use of health services, and the prevalence of health risk factors - all of which could be analysed by socioeconomic status and for populations at risk. National Health Survey: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results, Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 4715.0) made available the results of the supplementary survey of the health of Indigenous Australians. Experimental estimates of the Indigenous population by state and territory for 30 June 2001 were released in Australian Demographic Statistics, September quarter 2002 (cat. no. 3101.0) with estimates for each statistical local area released electronically in Experimental Estimates of Indigenous Australians, Electronic Delivery, June 2001 (cat. no. 3238.0.55.001).
Commonwealth Disability Strategy
In 1994 the Commonwealth government introduced the Commonwealth Disability Strategy (CDS) as a planning framework to assist Commonwealth agencies to meet their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The CDS was significantly redesigned following a review conducted in 1999. A revised CDS was launched in October 2000 containing a Guide to the Performance Reporting Framework. This framework identifies five key roles that Commonwealth agencies may perform. These are Policy Advisor, Regulator, Purchaser, Provider and Employer.
In the context of the CDS the ABS performs two roles - it is a provider of statistical services and an employer. Reporting of the ABS’ performance against these key roles, as required by the Performance Reporting Framework, is presented in Appendix 6. The ABS will continue to progress the implementation of the CDS in 2003-04.
In addition to its role as a provider and employer, the ABS has an important role in terms of providing information about disabilities to assist informed decision making by policy advisers. Information on the nature and extent of disability and associated needs for care and support, as well as the impact of the caring role on carers, is available in Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings (cat. no. 4430.0). Another publication of relevance to the issue is Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Disability and Long Term Health Conditions, Australia, 1998 (cat. no. 4433.0). Additionally, information about people with disabilities in New South Wales is presented in Disability, New South Wales (cat. no. 4443.1). The ABS contributes to international discussions on the development of standards for the measurement of disability and has also recently commenced collection of data for the 2003 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers. The ABS has commenced consultation with key users of census data for topics for the 2006 Census. One of the new topics under consideration is disability.
Ecologically Sustainable Development
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 requires agencies to report on aspects of its performance as it relates to ecologically sustainable development. The ABS has two key roles in respect of this issue. The first of these is in relation to the ABS mission/outcome of providing statistics on the environment and environmental issues to enable informed decision making. The second role is in relation to ABS operations and its impact on the environment and the steps being taken by the ABS to minimise that impact.
The ABS response to the five components of section 516A(6) as required by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is described below.
Section 516A(6)(a) How the activities of the organisation, and the administration of legislation by the organisation, accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
The ABS Charter is to provide a high quality statistical service to the government and the community, and this information is generally disseminated through publications. It operates primarily in an office based environment and is moving from paper to electronic products.
In most procurement activities the ABS has incorporated environmental clauses as part of the tender and evaluation process, consistent with Commonwealth procurement guidelines.
Section 516A(6)(b) How the outcomes specified in a relevant 'Appropriations Act' contribute to ecologically sustainable development.
The ABS receives appropriation for the purpose of informing the government on social, economic and environmental matters which are integrated into government policy.
The environment component of the ABS Economic Statistics program collects and publishes information about environment and energy statistics, including environment accounts. The component is involved in the coordination of data collection, research and analysis and implementing international environmental accounting frameworks.
During 2002-03 the ABS released a range of publications relevant to environmental issues. These include:
The ABS also developed a survey of energy production and use by businesses, and commenced development of a survey of water use by farmers.
Section 516A(6)(c) Effect of the organisation’s activities on the environment.
The operation of the ABS contributes to a range of impacts on the environment through its use of electricity, petrol, water, paper and other materials consumed and through its generation of waste.
Section 516A(6)(d) Measures being taken by the organisation to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment.
The ABS is implementing measures to minimise the effect of its operations on the environment by:
- Environmental Issues: People’s Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0)
- Environmental Expenditure, Local Government, Australia (cat. no. 4611.0)
- Salinity on Australian Farms (cat. no. 4615.0)
- Environment by Numbers: Selected Articles on Australia’s Environment (cat. no. 4617.0).
Section 516A(6)(e) Mechanisms, if any, for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of these measures.
The ABS has developed an Environmental Management System, to be implemented in 2003, providing a framework for measuring the effectiveness of actions taken to minimise adverse environmental impacts, and for considering and addressing environmental impacts within the context of continual improvement.
- reducing paper consumption by increasing the number of publications available electronically
- reducing the number of hard copy publications printed by moving to a ‘print on demand’ operation
- reducing ABS’ national energy usage over the last two financial years by approximately 20% (a significant contributor to this reduction was the relocation of ABS Central Office from Cameron Offices to ABS House)
- heavily weighting energy ratings when making purchasing decisions for whitegoods
- using 100% remanufactured and recycled cartridges for photocopiers, faxes and printers
- consuming green energy (10% of energy consumed in ABS House is ‘green energy’)
- leasing liquefied petroleum gas fuelled vehicles in both Central and NSW Offices
- actively recycling paper, bottles, cans and cartons with recycling bins readily accessible to all ABS staff
- providing facilities which encourage staff to use bicycles to travel to and from work
- taking other initiatives including replacement of fluorescent tubes in regional offices with more energy efficient tubes.