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The ABS continues to provide users with statistics and related information from all its statistical collections as soon as practicable after the collection of the data.
Enhancements to the Web Site
The ABS web site remains the primary access point for the majority of users of ABS information. In 2003-04 there has been a significant increase in content and improved functionality on the ABS web site. The web site now consists of approximately 308,000 pages, an increase of almost 50 per cent on last year, and during 2003-04 the web site received over 48 million page views (an increase of 25 per cent over the previous year).
The release of the National Regional Profile on the web site enables users to freely access a wide range of ABS and non-ABS data at the local government area level. Hard copy publications are now available for purchase through the e-commerce system, and a new search engine facilitates access to ABS statistics and metadata on the web site. A major redevelopment of the ABS web site that will result in improved useability and accessibility has been under way during 2003-04, the first phase of which will be launched early in 2004-05. An email notification service has been introduced leading to improved awareness of ABS releases and contributing to an increased use of ABS electronic services. A program of market research to gauge client satisfaction with the ABS web site is in development and will be implemented during 2004-05.
Improving Access to Unit Record Data
A major enhancement to online services was the formal launch in November 2003 by Professor Sandra Harding (Chairperson of the Australian Statistics Advisory Council) of the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) for dissemination of Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs). The RADL provides access to CURFs through a web-based interface allowing authorised users to submit analysis requests using a range of statistical packages. RADL facilitates greater access by researchers to ABS data while at the same time preserving the privacy and confidentiality of respondents. Currently there are over 200 registered RADL users.
ABS officers involved in the development of the Remote Access Data Laboratory. From left Alan Wong, Donna Goodman and Carolyn Kennedy.
The release of CURFs continue to be a major focus of the ABS response to enhancing research capacity of the user community. A major milestone was reached recently with the release of the 1,000th CURF to the research community.
The redevelopment of subscription services and the continued move towards greater use of electronic services over traditional hard copy publications has enabled the ABS to continue to provide users with timely statistical information while reducing the cost of dissemination. The ABS has successfully managed the transition of key users such as parliamentarians and the media to greater use of electronic publications during the last year. In recognition of the media's important role in informing the general public about ABS statistics and to ensure a continued high level of access to ABS data by the media, the ABS has offered complimentary media subscriptions to the AusStats service, which provides electronic access to all ABS publications and time series data.
The ABS has ensured continued public access to ABS data by further expanding the eLEP initiative which provides an increasing number of public libraries with access to ABS electronic services. A recent 'Libraries in the Online Environment' report by the Senate Reference Committee of the Environment, Communication, Information Technology and the Arts commended the ABS for its library extension program.
In 2003-04 a number of key clients such as state governments and Australian government departments have continued to make extensive use of ABS@, which enables them to access a comprehensive range of ABS statistics through their internal Intranets. The New South Wales government has recently contracted to acquire ABS@ and negotiations with a number of other state and Australian government organisations are continuing and may soon result in additional use of ABS@.
The ABS also disseminates data to the community via intermediaries. The 2003-04 year saw the engagement of a further 12 intermediaries which assist the ABS in its endeavours to maximise the use of statistics for informed decision making.
There was continued promotion of ABS products and capability in the last year. Promotion focused upon increasing the use of key products and services, such as the Year Book Australia (cat. no. 1301.0) and Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0), and continued promotion of census products and services, in particular CDATA 2001 and Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia (cat. no. 2033.0.30.001).
Statistics for Schools
There has also been continuing work with the schools' sector to increase the use of ABS data and to improve the statistical literacy of students. An expanding range of curriculum support material is being provided to schools. Since its release at the end of 2002-03, an increasing number of teachers are now using the ABS' school-specific electronic product, Census for Schools, in geography, mathematics and other classes. The ABS has recently commenced work to coordinate the implementation of a national CensusAtSchools initiative to coincide with the next Census of Population and Housing.
2004 Year Book
The 2004 edition of Year Book Australia (cat. no. 1301.0) was launched on 27 February 2004 at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies by Professor Sandra Harding. Professor Mick Dodson also spoke at the launch. The 2004 edition had Indigenous Australia as its theme, providing statistics to assist people make informed decisions about Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Professor Sandra Harding, Chairperson, Australian Statistics Advisory Council,
A review of ABS pricing is under way. Phase 1 of the review, assessing the alignment of existing ABS pricing policy and arrangements against the Commonwealth Guidelines on Cost Recovery, has been completed. Phase 2, which will review the prices of individual products and services is scheduled to be finalised by the end of 2004.