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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.
A recent study conducted by the Australian Public Service Commission reported strong feedback from ABS staff that the ABS is an ethical organisation that upholds both the APS Values and the ABS principles.
ABS Service Charters
The ABS had two service charters operating during 2003-04.
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 or on request at any 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, immigrants, people with disabilities, unemployed people, older Australians, women and children. During 2003-04 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 2003-04 the ABS released a range of statistical publications relevant to social justice and equity. Continuing its regular contribution to this area was Australian Social Trends, 2004 (cat. no. 4102.0), an annual publication drawing on the ABS and other official statistics to inform on social conditions and wellbeing in Australia.
The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2003 (cat. no. 4704.0) was produced jointly with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Population Characteristics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 (cat. no. 4713.0) and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2002 (cat. no. 4714.0) were other significant releases with social justice and equity dimensions.
Preliminary data from the 2003 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers was released in Disability, Australia, 2003, Preliminary (cat. no. 4446.0). The ABS provided a consultancy service to the Office of the Status of Women providing data for their information warehouse: Window on Women.
The ABS also released Household Income and Income Distribution, Australia, 2000-01 (cat. no. 6523.0), which provided summary measures of income distribution across Australian households over time, and compared relative income levels between different groups within Australian society.
The 2004-05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) was developed in 2003-04 and the field phase is expected to commence in late August 2004. The NATSIHS is a stand alone survey specifically designed to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues and will comprise a much larger sample (approximately 10,000 people) than previous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander supplements to the National Health Survey.
Commonwealth Disability Strategy
In 1994 the Australian government introduced the Commonwealth Disability Strategy (CDS) as a planning framework to assist Australian government 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 Australian government 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 2004-05.
In addition to its role as a provider and employer, the ABS has an important function in terms of providing information about disabilities to assist informed decision making by policy advisers. The ABS has released preliminary information from the 2003 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers in Disability, Australia (cat. no. 4446.0). The statistics shown in the publication provide a summary of disability prevalence in Australia. 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 (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 has successfully developed and tested questions designed to identify people in need of assistance due to a severe/profound disability for possible inclusion in the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. The ABS also contributes to international discussions on the development of standards for the measurement of 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 respect of 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 progressively moving from paper to electronic products. In 2003-04 the number of printed publications released was 420, down from 558 in 2002-03.
In most procurement activities the ABS has incorporated environmental clauses as part of the tender and evaluation process.
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 2003-04 the ABS released a range of publications relevant to environmental issues. These included:
The ABS also undertook surveys on water use by farmers and local governments' expenditure on environmental matters.
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:
Section 516A(6)(e) Mechanisms, if any, for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of these measures
The ABS is implementing an Environmental Management System that provides 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. Energy audits will also be undertaken in long term tenancy arrangements.