1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics -- Annual Report, 2007-08  
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Contents >> Section IV - National Statistical System >> Chapter 7 - Population and social statistics

INTRODUCTION

Within the context of the Portfolio Budget Statements, Output 1.1 (Australian Bureau of Statistics—national statistical service), the ABS produces and disseminates statistics in two key areas to meet the above outcome, namely:

  • Output 1.1.1 — Economic Statistics

  • Output 1.1.2 — Population and Social Statistics

    The Population and Social Statistics Program produces statistical information relating to the Australian population, including its size and composition, and information relating to social and economic wellbeing. This information provides a picture of the ways in which people’s lives are changing over time. The program also undertakes work focusing on different groups in the population. Population and social statistics are produced mainly through the ABS household survey program, the Census of Population and Housing, and a range of administrative by-product data from governments. This chapter provides a range of ABS highlights in relation to population and social statistics.

    CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING

    The Census and Statistics Act 1905 requires that the “...census shall be taken in the year 1981 and in every fifth year thereafter...”. The last Census was held on Tuesday, 8 August 2006 and the next Census is scheduled for 2011.
    The Census is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the ABS and one of the most important. There are two broad objectives that underpin the Census. The first is to accurately measure the number and key characteristics of people in Australia on Census Night and the dwellings in which they live. The second is to provide timely, high quality and relevant data for small geographic areas and small population groups, to complement the rich but broad level data provided by ABS surveys.
    From How Australia takes a Census (cat. no. 2903.0)

    The ABS framework for social statistics, as published in Measuring Wellbeing: Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics ( cat. no. 4160.0), is built around two dimensions. The first dimension relates to a number of key areas of social concern:

  • health

  • family and community

  • housing

  • education and training

  • work

  • economic resources

  • crime and justice

  • culture-leisure, and

  • population.

    The second dimension focuses on population groups, which are of particular interest to the community and to governments because they may have special needs or be disadvantaged. These groups include:

  • older people

  • children

  • youth

  • families with children

  • long-term unemployed

  • lone parents

  • people with disabilities

  • carers

  • recipients of various government benefits

  • low income earners

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

  • migrants, and

  • people whose language background is not English.

    Did you know? A boy born in 2006 could expect to live to be 79 (three years longer than a boy in 1996), while a girl could expect to reach 83 years of age (two years longer than a girl born in 1996).

    Source: Measures of Australia’s Progress: Summary Indicators, 2008 (cat. no. 1383.0.55.001)

    STATISTICAL RELEASES IN 2007-08

    Population and social statistics produced by the ABS include some regular series, as well as a range of measures that are produced less frequently, either periodic or on a one-off basis. The regular series include: monthly labour force measures; quarterly population estimates; quarterly average weekly earnings figures; annual statistics on recorded crime, courts and prisoners; and annual data on migration, births and causes of death.

    In 2007–08, results released from less frequent series included:

  • 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (cat. no. 4228.0), which provides internationally comparable data allowing the literacy skills of Australians to be compared with citizens of other countries

  • The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2008 (cat. no. 4704.0, sixth edition), prepared jointly with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)

  • Population Characteristics: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 (cat. no. 4713.0), drawing on results from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing

  • 2005–06 Household Income and Income Distribution, Australia (cat. no. 6523.0) and associated confidentialised unit record files

  • Information Paper: Experimental Estimates of Imputed Rent, Australia for 2003–04 and 2005–06 (cat. no. 6525.0) and associated confidentialised unit record file variables

  • 2005–06 Household Wealth and Wealth Distribution, Australia (cat. no. 6554.0)

  • 2006 Voluntary Work, Australia (cat. no. 4441.0)

  • How Australians Use Their Time (cat. no. 4153.0) and associated confidentialised unit record files

  • 2006–07 Family Characteristics and Transitions, Australia (cat. no. 4442.0) and associated confidentialised unit record files, and

  • 2005–06 Housing Occupancy and Costs, Australia (cat. no. 4130.0.55.001), with a feature article on first home buyers.


      FEATURE ARTICLE: FIRST HOME BUYERS IN AUSTRALIA

      Home ownership is a widely held aspiration in Australia, providing security of tenure and long-term economic benefits to home owners. Housing is also very significant in the national economy in terms of investment levels, building activity and employment.

      Australia has one of the highest levels of home ownership in the world. Results from the Census of Population and Housing show that home ownership was at 70% in 2006, little changed over the past 40 years.

      In the 2005–06 Survey of Income and Housing, 318,000 Australian households had purchased their first home in the three years prior to interview. Of these, 86% purchased established homes and 95% owned their home with a mortgage at the time of interview, up from 82% in 1995–96.

      The 5% of first home buyer households without a mortgage in 2005–06 had an average household net worth of $882,000, compared to $236,000 for first home buyer households with a mortgage. One in two of those first home buyer households without a mortgage were lone person households.

      From 2005–06 Housing Occupancy and Costs, Australia (cat. no. 4130.0.55.001)

      Other significant population and social statistical releases during 2007–08 are outlined below:

      OUTPUTS FROM THE 2006 CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING

      Second release 2006 Census data (released October 2007

      The second release data from the 2006 Census was released free-of-charge on the ABS website in October 2007. This included new results from a range of topics including Industry, Labour Force, Need for Assistance, Occupation, Qualifications and Unpaid Work.

      Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (released March 2008)

      Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas 2006 (SEIFA 2006) has been developed for those interested in the assessment of the welfare of Australian communities. The ABS has developed indexes to allow ranking of regions/areas, providing a method of determining the level of social and economic wellbeing in that region. The SEIFA indexes have been created by combining information collected in the five-yearly Census of Population and Housing.

      2006 Census Social Atlas Series (released March 2008)

      The Social Atlas series consists of one publication for each state or territory. For the 2006 Census, the series has been expanded to include key social, demographic and economic information on selected regional centres of each state or territory, as well as each capital city in Australia. Each publication consists of a series of maps of the capital city and selected regional centres, covering topics such as population, ethnicity, education, families, income, labour force and dwellings. More information on the release of the Social Atlas series can be found in Chapter 12, Communication of statistics.

      2006 Census Community Profiles Series (last release in February 2008)

      The Community Profile Series contains six separate profiles aimed at providing key Census characteristics relating to persons, families and dwellings and covering most topics on the Census form. The profiles are excellent tools for researching, planning and analysing small and large geographic areas. They enable comparisons to be made between different geographic areas. The profiles released from the 2006 Census include: Basic Community Profile, Place of Enumeration Profile, Indigenous Profile, Time Series Profile, Expanded Community Profile and the Working Population Profile.

        Image of Brian Pink and the Hon Chris Bowen at the 2006 Census Social Atlas Launch

        The Assistant Treasurer, The Hon Chris Bowen MP with Brian Pink, Australian Statistician, at the 2006 Census Social Atlas launch.

        INDIGENOUS POPULATION ESTIMATES

        Preliminary Indigenous population estimates, rebased to the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, were released in August 2007, in Population Distribution: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 (cat. no. 4705.0). This publication also presented information from the 2006 Census about the geographic areas in which Indigenous Australians live.

        ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: PEOPLE'S VIEWS AND PRACTICES

        The ABS released Environmental Issues: People’s Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0) in December 2007. This edition focused on water use and conservation, and covered a range of issues including water sources, water supply, rainwater tanks and water saving measures.

        DEMOGRAPHY

        The ABS released summary statistics in the publication Population, Australian States and Territories, December 2007 (cat. no. 3239.0.55.001) in June 2008. This release provided population estimates for the states and territories at 31 December 2006 and 2007, components of population growth for the calendar year 2007, and other summary statistics. The release also included final population estimates for 30 June 2006 based on the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, and a feature article entitled Final Rebasing And Revisions Of Australia’s Population Estimates, September Quarter 2001—June Quarter 2006. Regular series released by the ABS include: monthly labour force measures; quarterly population estimates; quarterly average weekly earnings figures; annual statistics on recorded crime, courts and prisoners; and annual data on migration, births and causes of death.

        To complement the release of statistics relating to population, the ABS released the Information Paper: Population Concepts (cat. no. 3107.0.55.006) in March 2008. This information paper aims to help users understand various population concepts and measures.

        STATISTICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN 2007-08

        CENSUS DATA ENHANCEMENT PROJECT

        The ABS Census Data Enhancement project aims to enhance the value of Census of Population and Housing data by creating from it a 5% sample of the Australian population that can be linked between the 2006 Census and subsequent Censuses. Work in 2007–08 focused on assessing matching methodologies, undertaking data matching, validating results and developing options for selection of the Statistical Longitudinal Census Dataset sample in future Censuses. Work on various quality studies has commenced, with an expectation that results will be finalised late in 2008. More information on this project can be found in Chapter 13, Extended analysis of statistics.

        2008 NATIONAL ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER SOCIAL SURVEY

        During 2007–08, development of the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) was finalised, ready for enumeration in late 2008. For the first time, the NATSISS will collect information about Indigenous children and adults. Some additional content has been included, and the survey sample will also be expanded with user funding.

        CHILDREN AND YOUTH

        Children and Youth Information Development Plan

        The Information Paper: Improving Statistics on Children and Youth—An Information Development Plan, 2006 (cat. no. 4907.0), which was released in December 2006, was reviewed in 2007 and the Annual Progress Report (including updated data development actions) was published on the National Statistical Service website in December 2007. More information on progress can be found in Chapter 9, Engagement with users and producers of statistics.

        2008 Childhood Education and Care Survey

        The Childhood Education and Care Survey, which includes child care and early years learning topics, was conducted in June 2008. The survey results, to be released in 2009, will provide information about the number of children participating in pre-school programs, in both dedicated pre-schools and as part of pre-school programs conducted in long-day care centres. The survey collected data on child care costs, usual and average care usage (in addition to the historical short reference period measure of care use characteristics) and the need for child care. It will also provide some information about children starting school who have, or have not, participated in some form of pre-school program, the reasons for not attending and why parents would like more attendance.

        Information Paper on Concepts and Directions in Early Childhood Learning

        Measuring Learning in Australia: Concepts and Directions in Early Childhood Learning (cat. no. 4232.0), released in December 2007, discusses recent research and policy directions in early childhood education, as well as providing information about current data sources and indicators, and highlighting a range of data gaps. The paper provides a framework for future data development activity in this area.



        Image of Aboriginal child

        The 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey will collect information about Indigenous children for the first time.

        SURVEYS OF HEALTH AND WELLBEING

        The 2007 Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing was conducted from August to December 2007, with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. The survey used an international instrument (the Computerised International Diagnostic Instrument), which provides information about the prevalence of mental health conditions and the use of health services. Results are expected to be released from August 2008.

        The 2007–08 National Health Survey was also conducted during 2007-08. The survey builds on previous surveys, with a stronger focus on chronic disease, and the collection of measures of height, weight and waist circumference. Results are expected to be released from March 2009.

        2007–08 SURVEY OF INCOME AND HOUSING

        The 2007–08 Survey of Income and Housing was conducted from August 2007 to June 2008. It contains new content on child care, and expanded content for housing including: housing mobility; intentions to move; dwelling characteristics such as structural problems, need for repairs, sources of water and energy, and smoke alarms; additional detail on sources of finance for first home buyers and for housing loans and refinancing; renter lease arrangements; changed rental circumstances and difficulties; public housing waiting lists; and neighbourhood characteristics. Results are expected to be released from mid 2009.

        REVIEW OF LABOUR FORCE SURVEY SAMPLE DESIGN

        The ABS reviews the Labour Force Survey (LFS) sample design every five years, with data obtained from the Census of Population and Housing. The review ensures that the survey continues to accurately reflect the geographic distribution of the Australian population, and remains efficient and cost-effective. Following the review based on 2006 Census data, the new sample design was implemented over the period November 2007 to June 2008. More information on future changes to the LFS sample can be found in Chapter 11, Quality and timeliness.

        Did you know? The average annual unemployment rate decreased from 8.3% in 1997 to 4.4% in 2007. The labour force underutilisation rate also fell from 13.6% to 8.9% over the same decade.

        Source: Measures of Australia’s Progress: Summary Indicators, 2008 (cat. no. 1383.0.55.001).

        DEVELOPMENTS IN CLIENT ENGAGEMENT AND OUTPUT ENHANCEMENT

        The ABS has continued to work closely with its population and social statistics clients to ensure that:

      • products and services continue to be relevant

      • emerging needs of users of statistics are understood, and

      • ABS decisions about collections and releases are explained.

        The ABS continues to look for ways to strengthen engagement with key stakeholders and has established new partnerships, has strategically positioned outposted officers in Australian Government agencies, and initiated regular bilateral discussions at a senior level on key policy areas requiring a statistical input. Some highlights of client engagement and product enhancement activities follow, with more information on engagement with users of statistics in Chapter 9, Engagement with users and producers of statistics.

        ABS DIRECTIONS IN ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER STATISTICS

        The third meeting of the Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics (AGATSIS) was held in May 2008. At that meeting, the ABS reported on progress against the six key strategic areas identified in ABS Directions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics (cat. no. 4700.0), which was released in mid 2007. The ABS report included information about ongoing efforts towards improving Indigenous mortality statistics, plans for release of updated Indigenous life expectancy estimates (in late 2008) and revised population projections (in late 2009), the continued focus on engagement through the Indigenous Community Engagement Strategy, and the development of the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.

        POPULATION WELLBEING DATA GAPS WORKSHOP - EARLY CHILDHOOD

        In 2006, a project focused on information gaps in early childhood development (including education and care) was established, based on the outcomes of an Australian Government inter-agency workshop. The Departments of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations; Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; the Australian Government Treasury; and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the ABS, are involved in the project. These agencies are collaborating to draft a report (due for release by the ABS late 2008) that identifies current data, policy questions and data access issues relating to early childhood development. The report is also expected to make recommendations for enhancing data and for using existing data more effectively.

        The collaborative work aims to create advice that might be used by government agencies to enter into arrangements that extend knowledge of early childhood through data exchange, linkage, standardisation and improved analysis. As a result, policy and programs could be better targeted to improve the wellbeing of children and positively influence their futures.

        SUPPORT FOR AGENCIES

        The ABS has continued to support the work of other agencies in developing population and social statistical products and capability. For example, it has provided advice and expertise through membership of steering and working groups associated with:

      • the Council of Australian Government’s ‘Review of Government Service Provision’ and the regular report titled ‘Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage’, and

      • key government funded surveys for which other agencies are responsible, including the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey and the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC).

        During 2007–08, the ABS continued its strong engagement with LSAC by providing survey development and data collection services for waves 2.5 and 3 of the survey. This was done in partnership with the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

        More information on support for agencies can be found in Chapter 9, Engagement with users and producers statistics.

        Did you know? The proportion of people aged 25 to 64 years with a non-school qualification increased from 46% in 1997 to 59% in 2007.

        Source: Measures of Australia’s Progress: Summary Indicators, 2008 (cat. no. 1383.0.55.001).



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