1301.6.55.001 - Tasmanian Statistical News, Jun 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/06/2010   
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2011 Census is coming!
News from the Environment and Agriculture Business Statistics Centre
Looking for data about your region?
How fit is your data?
Need help in drafting a data quality statement?
New Release - Guide for using statistics for evidence based policy


The 2011 Census is less than 18 months away and the ABS is gearing up for the main event with the establishment of the Census Management Unit (CMU) in the Tasmanian Office. The CMU is busy meeting with government agencies, non-government organisations and the general community to:

  • raise awareness
  • gather local intelligence
  • discuss issues and challenges that may arise before or during the census collection phase
  • discuss the issues related to the recruitment of field staff

If you work for an agency that may be able to assist the ABS with any of these areas, please come and have a chat with our Census team or contact Ruth McArdle, our Census Manager, on (03) 6222 5767.

For further information about the Census, contact tasmania.statistics@abs.gov.au or check out our 2011 Census of Population and Housing Local & Regional Engagement Strategy (cat. no. 2911.0.55.001) or the publication Census of Population and Housing: Nature and Content, 2011 (cat. no. 2008.0).

If you are interested in the value of the various agricultural commodities produced in Australia, keep an eye out for the release of VACP (Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced) estimates for 2008-09, due to be released on 18 June 2010. Published annually, these estimates provide a dollar value for agricultural commodities such as crops, livestock slaughtering and livestock products. Previous year's estimates can be viewed now in Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia (ABS cat. no. 7503.0).

Since the last issue of this newsletter, Hobart's Environment and Agriculture Business Statistics Centre (BSC) has released commodity and water estimates from the Agricultural Survey 2009. These final estimates for agricultural commodities (i.e. area of production of crops, livestock numbers) can be found in Agricultural Commodities, Australia (ABS cat. no. 7121.0). Of particular interest to Tasmanian readers are increases in some areas of vegetable production and milk cattle numbers over the last year.

Final water estimates (i.e. type and area of crops irrigated, water sources, irrigation methods) were released on 19 April; see Water Use on Australian Farms (ABS cat. no. 4618.0).

The BSC is continuing its publication format review and looking to find out more from data users so that environmental and agricultural data can be more easily used by a wider range of individuals. If you have something you would like to contribute to this review process, phone (03) 6222 5846 or email: agriculture.statistics@abs.gov.au.

The latest National Regional Profile (NRP) contains data snapshots for over 2,000 regions across Australia, with five years of data where it is available.

What you will find for each region is a range of data organised into the following headings:
  • economy
  • population/people
  • industry
  • environment/energy

The data is from the ABS and other sources, for geographic areas such as Statistical Local Areas and Local Government Areas right up to state/territory and Australia. The data is presented for all years on common boundaries, making it easy to compare data over time.

Data included for the first time includes estimates of household wealth, age of motor vehicles, water use on Australian farms and selected Government pensions and allowances. Some of the data in the NRP is not released at such small levels anywhere else on the ABS website.

This latest NRP has a very new look to the 'entry' page, which uses an interactive map and list to find your region of interest.

Diagram: Screen shot of NRP Map-interface showing the LGA of Circular Head

Screen Shot of NRP Map-interface showing the Local Government Area of Circular Head

As an example, if you were interested in looking at the characteristics of the Local Government Area (LGA) of Hobart, the NRP shows that Hobart had an average value of Private Sector Houses of $290,800 in 2007-08, a 15.8% increase from the previous year. Hobart also had the highest average taxable income in Tasmania in 2006-07 ($55,531).

If you want to compare more than a few regions at a time, then you can do this by using the SuperTABLE data cube in the NRP. As an example, you could find that, for Tasmania:
  • The LGA of Hobart had the highest average value of private sector houses (2007-08) and the highest average taxable income (2006-07).
  • The LGA of Kingborough has had the highest number of approvals of private sector houses since 2005-06. In 2007-08, there were 286 approvals.
  • The LGA of Flinders had 981 registered motor vehicles per 1,000 population at 31 March 2008, which was the highest number in the state and above the Tasmanian average of 784.
  • Launceston had the highest number of births, with 942 in the year ending 31 December 2008 and the highest number of deaths in the same period (596).
  • The LGA of Circular Head had the highest value of agricultural production in Tasmania 2005-06, at $139,400,000.

The NRP is available from the ABS Home page, or directly from this link: National Regional Profile.

Help using the NRP includes 'How to find a region', 'Comparing regions', and Demonstration Videos.

Increasingly there is demand for public policies to be informed by high quality evidence. Good quality statistical information can form an important part of the evidence base for policy work.

So, how do we get "good statistical information"? One answer is DATAfitness.

DATAfitness = good data management practice.

Good data management is one of the foundation stones for building a solid statistical resource for Australia. In simple terms, DATAfitness symbolises the ability to compare apples with apples or being able to compare data which has similar characteristics.

The National Statistical Service (NSS), a community of government agencies led by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), is promoting good data management practices through its DATAfitness program. DATAfitness encourages the use of statistical frameworks, principles and resources which can help data providers and users to realise the benefits of good data management.

The three key elements of DATAfitness are:
  • Metadata Management, which describes what data is about and where it comes from. Adding metadata about data is essential for bringing data sets together and comparing information from different sources.
  • Data Quality, which describes data's "fitness for purpose". Data has a range of dimensions which must be understood to determine whether or not data is "fit for purpose" or, put simply, whether it can be used for the desired purpose.
  • Data Sharing, which describes sharing information as an important part of maximising data use and re-use. Data sharing arrangements facilitate the sharing of data between providers and users and support evidence-based policy and decision-making.

As part of its DATAfitness program, the NSS has developed Data Quality Online (DQO), an easy-to-use online support system for data collectors, providers and users.

DQO is the first assistant of its kind in the world and will provide clear and simple support to those involved in managing data. The system will help users to compile data quality statements and will also provide tailored guidance on statements for indicators used by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

The NSS will officially launch DQO in June 2010, in conjunction with the ABS. DQO is based on the nationally recognised ABS Data Quality Framework, which provides a consistent standard for describing the quality of data.

A preliminary version of DQO was released in March 2010, specifically for the purposes of the latest round of COAG National Agreement reporting. For further information on DQO or to take a look at the prototype, visit the NSS website.

The NSS has also released A good practice guide to sharing your data with others. The guide supports quality data sharing across agencies by offering a non-technical introduction and by providing a basic model for making data sharing agreements, which includes factors to consider and how these relate to agencies, staff and data.

For more information on DATAfitness, visit www.nss.gov.au/datafitness or email inquiries@nss.gov.au

A Data Quality Statement is a presentation of information about the quality of a data item or a collection of data items, using the ABS Data Quality Framework.

The purpose of a Data Quality Statement is to clearly communicate key characteristics of the data which impact on quality, so that potential users can make informed decisions about fitness for use.

Data Quality Statements report both the strengths and limitations of the data.

The Data Quality Online tool has been developed to assist people in drafting Data Quality Statements and is available on the NSS website.

The tool applies the ABS Data Quality Framework by guiding the user through a range of questions and providing opportunity to download progress at any stage, via XML or PDF format. The tool also provides a range of useful resources and further information on the ABS Data Quality Framework to assist users.

The tool has two main streams: general purpose and information for COAG Performance Indicators within the National Reporting Framework. The COAG stream is available now, providing tailored guidance on statements for COAG indicators. The general stream will be released at the end of the financial year.

The Statistical Literacy Unit at the Australian Bureau of Statistics has recently developed a guide for using statistics for evidence based policy which will be a useful resource for policy and decision makers.

The guide provides useful information about how statistics can be used to make informed policy decisions, and includes the following information:
  • What is evidence based decision making?
  • How good statistics can enhance the decision making process
  • Using statistics for making evidence based decisions
  • Data awareness
  • Understanding statistical concepts and terminology
  • Analysing, interpreting and evaluating statistical information
  • Communicating statistical findings
  • Evaluating outcomes of policy decisions

The guide is available on the ABS website via the following link: A Guide for Using Statistics for Evidence Based Policy.