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Over the years, outpostings have assisted the ABS in understanding the strategic working environments of State Government agencies. This has allowed the ABS to form strong working relationships with these agencies, encouraging the use of statistics as an integral tool in their decision making process.
Outpostings are tailored to suit the needs of the agency in which ABS officers have been deployed. The outposted officer is one of the best ways the ABS has to provide statistical support to agencies and other organisations. In recent times, outpostings have prompted an increase in demand for expertise in statistical data provided by the ABS, due to greater emphasis being placed on evidence based policy development and evaluation.
An ABS outposting may assist with a particular statistical project or issue, and occur for a short period of 3-6 months. The officer’s work could involve assisting with specific survey and questionnaire design, or locating ABS data and related sources. Alternatively, an outposting can be more strategic in nature and be longer term. This may provide a basis for agencies to review statistical information and develop skills within their agency. Outpostings can also assist agencies to improve the use of administrative data for statistical outputs which potentially could lead to a wider range of regional level data.
The WA office of the ABS has two outposted officers currently located within the Institute for Child Health Research providing assistance on the Aboriginal Child Health Survey. The office has continued its strong commitment to the outposting service by deploying skilled staff into several other agencies this year. Agencies that have taken up the ABS outposting service include the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (Public Sector Management Division), Department of Industry and Resources, and the Department of Housing and Works.
Each agency has specified different requirements and outcomes they wish to achieve from their respective outpostings.
The Department of the Premier and Cabinet sought the ABS outposting service following a recent review of its Public Sector Management Division (PSMD), which has prompted an increased emphasis on improving data collection and analysis to provide meaningful, timely and accurate reporting on the WA Public Sector workforce. Outposted officers, Lesley Martin and Kita Coles, are working collaboratively with PSMD staff to help achieve this goal and offer guidance in improving the department’s data collection and decision making techniques.
Greg Hilton has begun a one month placement at the Department of Industry and Resources (State Development Strategies Group). An important objective of the outposting is to improve the use of statistics and to promote statistical best practice. Outpostings such as this help to develop the statistical skills of staff within the agency and also provide the outposted officer with an insight into the mechanics of policy formulation within State Government. As noted by Greg, “an outposting is a great way to increase your knowledge and use of statistics in the formation of evidence based policies”.
The Department of Housing and Works and the ABS have recently agreed to a six month outposting. ABS officer Mark Bonini has commenced the outposting and is providing assistance in reviewing and organising a range of data collected by the department, particularly in the works and building services function. Mark is also working towards improving the strategic use of available data. A key feature of Mark’s outposting is to support the proper use and interpretation of statistics by departmental staff and provide advice on the best ways to present statistical information.
For further information about ABS outpostings contact Wavne Rikkers on (08) 9360 5385.