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The 2003 edition of Year Book Australia (cat. no. 1301.0) was launched on 24 January 2003, by Ian Kiernan, AO, founder of clean up campaigns Clean Up Australia Day and Clean Up the World. This Year Book had a strong environmental theme. Mr Kiernan commented that the Year Book provided a wealth of information on economic, social and environmental conditions in Australia which is essential to help understand the relationship between the three, and plan for a healthier environment.
The web site remains the primary access point for users of ABS information. The ABS web site consists of approximately 195,000 web pages. During the year there were over 38 million hits at the ABS web site. This was a 40 per cent increase on the previous year and reflects, in part, the response of the public to the large amount of census data made available for free on the web site. In 2002-03 the ABS continued work on improving the web site and also conducted a useability study of the ABS web site. While the results of the study were positive, the ABS has, in response to the increasing role of the web, established a Web Useability Unit to further explore means for improving the useability, navigability and accessibility of the ABS web site.
AusStats, the subscriber service to ABS publications and time series data, continues to perform well with around 440 clients (including libraries and universities) and, ABS@, the ABS Key Client Intranet based facility, now has 10 clients. Most of the development work for AusStats & ABS@ during 2002-03 went into providing functionality to support the census data releases and enabling the ability to drill down through census data via a map interface within the ABS web site, AusStats and ABS@. The online e-commerce system continued to perform well.
During 2002-03 more detailed 2001 Census of Population and Housing data were released in CDATA 2001, the Social Atlas series and on the ABS web site. In total 60,000 census files were loaded to the web site. In October 2002 the Australian Statistician, Dennis Trewin, and Jan Fullerton, Director-General of the National Library of Australia, launched CLIB2001 at the National Library in Canberra. CLIB is a census product provided free of charge to libraries eligible through the Library Extension Program (LEP). LEP-eligible libraries include all public libraries, TAFE and university libraries, the Commonwealth and state parliamentary libraries and the national and state libraries. CLIB2001 includes the complete Census Community Profile Series and Classification Counts with a new intuitive user interface for ease of use.
A new Excel time series format was introduced with the Labour Force Survey, the first release in this new format. This new format takes advantage of the many Excel features, presents data in a time series format, provides an index to the series, includes series identifiers, and provides links to appropriate metadata. Work is now progressing to release more time series in this format.
We continued to raise the profile of ABS information in the public arena. In the Internet environment work focused on getting companies to link to the ABS web site and arranging data syndication through the business entry point. Increased access was also given to the media through complimentary AusStats access and to the general public through the electronic Library Extension Program (e-LEP). The ABS participated in the e-government week held at Parliament House in November.
A number of market research exercises were undertaken in 2002-03 to improve ABS understanding of client needs and assess the quality of our services. These included our first online web survey to obtain a demographic and behavioural profile of web site visitors and to collect information about visitor expectations. This information will provide a benchmark for future studies and will focus efforts on areas where web site useability can be improved. A market analysis of our information consultancy client base was also undertaken with the information gained assisting in helping to improve our service to clients as well as better targeting and growing our client base. Work was also conducted during the year to assess the ongoing quality of the National Information and Referral Service.
Recently the ABS also undertook a key client stocktake which aimed to assess the relationship between the ABS and key Commonwealth agencies, to improve the corporate understanding of these relationships and to address corporately, issues of importance in enhancing them.