The year 2002-03 was a most successful one for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). In fulfilling its obligations as Australia’s national statistical office, the ABS has maintained an enviable reputation as one of the world’s leading statistical organisations. The past year has seen a significant increase in the range of statistical information produced by the ABS, and a number of initiatives to improve the quality of the information released. The quality of statistical information produced by the ABS is extremely important. This was reiterated by the Prime Minister in a speech to the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth in July 2002 where he stated “One of the things you find in government is that no amount of goodwill is enough, no amount of good policy direction is enough, unless you have accurate information at your disposal.”
Some of the key statistical and organisational issues and outcomes for the ABS during the year include:
- the progressive release of the suite of publications and products from the 2001 Census, including:
- Social Atlases for each of the capital cities
- CDATA 2001, which allows data users to analyse and map census data
- CLIB2001, a product designed for libraries and available both on CD-ROM and on the Internet
- a range of community profile data, available free of charge on the ABS web site
- the establishment of the Remote Access Data Laboratory, an online database query system that enables users to run statistical queries on ABS Confidentialised Unit Record Files via a secure web site link
- continued upgrades to the ABS web site including improved useability and an increased amount of data available free of charge
- significant progress in assisting Commonwealth and state agencies to make better use of their administrative data holdings as part of the development of the National Statistical Service
- a strong focus on state/territory data needs through the State Statistical Forum and close cooperative working arrangements with state/territory governments
- the establishment of an Ageing Statistics Unit and a Children and Youth Statistics Unit to provide statistical leadership and focus on these important population groups
- the development and expansion of information focusing on environmental issues including results from a survey of salinity on farms
- the implementation of the Business Statistics Innovation Program with the objective of improving the overall cost-effectiveness of the economic statistics program through organisational, technological and methodological changes
- successful negotiation with staff of a new Certified Agreement for the period 2003-2006
- publication of a range of satellite accounts covering Nonprofit Institutions, Tourism and Information and Communication Technology which provide detailed information on the economic impact of these sectors
- publishing of Information Paper: Measuring Learning in Australia - A Framework for Education and Training Statistics (cat. no. 4213.0), which has been developed to assist relevant bodies and agencies to determine their information requirements and assist in data collection and analysis
- the release of Discussion Paper: Measuring a Knowledge-based Economy and Society - An Australian Framework (cat. no. 1375.0)
- the conduct of the 2002 Indigenous Social Survey, the first such survey since the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey
- hosting an international conference on developments for the next round of censuses
These developments are expanded upon further below.
The above outcomes could not have been achieved without the hard work, professionalism and dedication of the staff of the ABS. I wish to record my sincere appreciation for their efforts during 2002-03.
The other important ingredient to the success of the ABS is the continuing cooperation of businesses, households and others who provide the data which form the basis of the statistics produced. The ABS makes a considerable effort in ensuring that we have the trust and confidence of our data providers, without which the provision of a quality statistical service would be jeopardised. I would once again like to convey my thanks to all businesses and households that have assisted us in our task by providing the data we need to deliver a quality statistical service to policy-makers, researchers, analysts and the community at large.
- significant contribution to the international statistical arena, and extensive technical assistance to a number of statistical agencies in the Asia-Pacific region.