1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics -- Annual Report, 2006-07  
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Contents >> Section III - National Statistical System >> Chapter 5 - Population and Social Statistics Program

Section III - National statistical system

Chapter 5 - Population and Social Statistics Program

INTRODUCTION

The Population and Social Statistics Program produces statistical information relating to the Australian population, for example census and demographic statistics. The program also presents information relating to the social and economic wellbeing of the nation. This information provides a picture of the ways people’s lives are changing over time. There is also work focusing on different groups in the population. Population and social statistics are produced mainly through the ABS household survey program.

The ABS framework for social statistics, as published in Measuring Wellbeing: Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics (cat. no. 4160.0), is built around two key dimensions. The first 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 and leisure, and
    • population.
The second dimension focuses on population groups, which are of particular interest to the community and to governments for reasons such as their special need or disadvantage. 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 2005 could expect to live to 78 (four years longer than a boy in 1995), while a girl could expect to reach 83 (three years longer than girl born in 1995).

Source: Measures of Australia’s Progress: Summary Indicators, 2007 (cat. no. 1383.0.55.001).

STATISTICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN 2006–07

Statistics produced by the Population and Social Statistics Program include some regular series as well as a range of measures that are produced less frequently or on a periodic or 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 births and causes of death statistics.

In 2006–07, results released from less frequent series included:

    • 2003–04 Government Benefits, Taxes and Household Income
    • 2005 Personal Safety Survey
    • 2006 Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey
    • 2006 Child Employment
    • 2006 Labour Mobility
    • 2006 Working Time Arrangements
    • 2006 Work-Related Injuries
    • 2006 Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia
    • 2006 Pregnancy and Employment Transitions
    • 2006 General Social Survey, and
    • 2006 Census Post Enumeration Survey.
Other significant statistical developments during 2006–07 are outlined below:

1. Completion of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing

The 2006 Census of Population and Housing provides a wealth of social data that is used widely by individuals, community groups, businesses, researchers and governments. The census is the largest statistical collection undertaken in Australia, and one of the most important for the ABS. Its objective is to accurately measure the number and key characteristics of people in Australia on census night, which was 8 August 2006, and the dwellings in which they live. The data provide a reliable basis for the estimation of the population of each of the states, territories and local government areas. The census also provides information about the characteristics of the Australian population and its housing within small geographic areas and for small population groups. The census provides statistical information to assist decision making for all aspects of society. The census data underpin or complement many other statistical activities undertaken by the ABS and other users of statistics.

More information on the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, including information on the eCensus, which was used for the first time, can be found in the special article Chapter 7 2006 Census of Population and Housing.

2. Conduct of the 2006 Census Post Enumeration Survey

After each Census of Population and Housing, a Post Enumeration Survey (PES) is conducted to produce estimates of the proportion of the population missed, or counted more than once, in the census. The PES provides information for users on the quality of the census, and is used with the data from the census to produce estimates of the population. To improve the quality of the estimates, the 2006 PES included remote areas and discrete Indigenous communities, for the first time. In 2006–07, two information papers about how the data was collected and methods used in estimation were published, as well as a publication presenting estimates of net undercount in the census. For more information, see Census of Population and Housing - Undercount (cat. no. 2940.0) and Information Paper: Measuring Net Undercount in the 2006 Population Census (cat. no. 2940.0.55.001).

An ABS officer interviewing for the Post Enumeration Survey

An ABS officer interviewing for the Post Enumeration Survey


3. Implementation of an improved method for estimating net overseas migration

An improved method for estimating net overseas migration was implemented in ABS population estimates from September quarter 2006. The improved methodology was developed in response to the changing patterns of travel to and from Australia, in particular the increased propensity for travellers to interrupt longer periods of stay or absence with short trips.

Information Paper: Statistical Implications of Improved Methods for Estimating Net Overseas Migration (cat. no. 3107.0.55.005) describes the new method and provides comparisons with previously published estimates.

4. Updated population estimates

Using the results of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, the 2006 Census Post Enumeration Survey, and other data, the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) series for each state and territory were updated for September quarter 2001 onwards. Additional analysis and quality assurance was undertaken to improve the quality of population estimates for older persons. Consistent with the requirements of A New Tax System (Commonwealth - State Financial Arrangements) Act 1999, state and territory representatives were consulted prior to the release of data.

Estimates for 31 December 2006 were provided to the Australian Government Treasury for use in determining the distribution of GST to state and territory governments. The estimates were also provided for use in distributing grants under the Local Government (Financial Assistance Grants) Act 1995. Updated estimates for Local Government Areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were released in June and August 2007, respectively.

5. Changes to ABS measures of employee remuneration

Changes to the nature of employee remuneration in recent years have led to the need to review ABS measures of employee remuneration, to ensure that the conceptual basis of the measures is still sound. These changes are discussed in Information Paper: Changes to ABS Measures of Employee Remuneration (cat. no. 6313.0), which also describes employee remuneration arrangements, international standards for statistics of employee remuneration, the changes to conceptual treatments, and the impact of these changes on the ABS’ statistical series. The changed treatment of salary sacrifice in remuneration measures is being progressively implemented in the affected series.

6. Release of the 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 on 8 December 2006, identifies the agreed priorities and action for information development for children and youth statistics. The paper also includes a conceptual framework, identifies key issues in the field, lists data currently available, and identifies gaps in data. It is based on a shared understanding of the key policy issue imperatives, and agreement on the areas of priority for statistical data development. The plan was endorsed by: The Australian Council for Educational Research; the Australian Institute of Criminology; the Australian Institute of Family Studies; the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth; the Department of Education, Science and Training; the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations; the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; the Department of Health and Ageing; the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research; and the Productivity Commission.

7. Development of the new occupation classification

The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) was released on 11 September 2006 and was used for the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, the Monthly Population Survey, and other relevant ABS collections.

ANZSCO is the product of a development program undertaken jointly by a project team from the ABS, Statistics New Zealand and the Australian Government Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, for use in the collection, publication and analysis of occupation statistics. The use of ANZSCO will result in improved comparability of occupation statistics produced by the two countries. ANZSCO will replace the existing Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Second Edition and the New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (NZSCO) 1999.

More information on ANZSCO is available in the special article Chapter 8 Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations.

8. Ongoing work on the Census Data Enhancement project

The Census Data Enhancement (CDE) project aims to enhance the value of data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and subsequent censuses by creating a Statistical Longitudinal Census Dataset (SLCD) for a 5 per cent sample of the Australian population. This project has proceeded in line with the Statement of Intention published on the ABS website in August 2005, which followed initial consultation on a proposal in 2004–05 and the preparation of a Privacy Impact Statement. This work will bring together data through statistical techniques rather than matching based on name and address. Names and addresses will not be kept.

Work in 2006–07 continued to focus on assessing matching methodologies and developing options for selection of the Statistical Longitudinal Census Dataset sample, as well as the commencement of linking datasets for the various quality studies, outlined in the Information Paper, Census Data Enhancement Project: An Update (cat. no. 2062.0), published on the ABS website.

9. Development of the Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing

The 2007 Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing was developed during 2006–07, with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, and will use an international instrument (the Computerised International Diagnostic Instrument) modified to provide information about prevalence of mental health conditions, and about use of health services.

10. Redevelopment of the National Health Survey

Following a review of the health survey, and extensive consultation with clients on information needs around mental health, the National Health Survey and the Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing instruments and procedures were developed and tested during 2006–07. The 2007–08 National Health Survey will build on previous surveys, with a stronger focus on chronic disease, and collection of measured height, weight and waist circumference.


ABS staff with the newsstand poster used by The Canberra Times to promote the Health Survey conducted by the ABS

ABS staff with the newsstand poster used by The Canberra Times to promote the Health Survey conducted by the ABS


DEVELOPMENTS IN CLIENT ENGAGEMENT AND OUTPUT ENHANCEMENT

The Population and Social Statistics Program has continued to work closely with its clients to ensure:

    • products and services continue to be relevant
    • emerging needs of users of statistics are appreciated, and
    • ABS decisions about collections and releases are understood.
The ABS continues to look for ways to strengthen engagement with key stakeholders and has: established new partnerships; strategically positioned outposted officers in Australian Government agencies such as the Department of Health and Ageing, and the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; and initiated regular bilateral discussions at a senior level on key policy areas, and other drivers, requiring a statistical response.

ABS DIRECTIONS IN ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER STATISTICS

The Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics (AGATSIS) met in February 2007, following the first meeting of the group in May 2006. This group replaces a number of survey or project-specific groups, to provide advice to the ABS on advancing its program of Indigenous statistics and setting future strategic directions. A number of Indigenous Australians are represented on AGATSIS and other members include senior staff from the government and research sectors.

Participants at the AGATSIS meeting held in February 2007

Participants at the AGATSIS meeting held in February 2007


After reviewing the current policy context of Indigenous affairs, and following extensive consultation with stakeholders, including AGATSIS, the ABS Directions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics (cat. no. 4700.0) was released in June 2007. Six key strategic areas were identified:
    • Engagement
    • Understanding and measuring Indigenous wellbeing
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth
    • Indigenous engagement in economic activity
    • Improved reporting and analysis of comparisons over time, and
    • Regional data - improved capacity to support regional and small area analysis.
The new directions will guide new or enhanced statistical activity, to deliver future statistics and analysis that best support policy development and research.

POPULATION WELLBEING DATA GAPS WORKSHOP - ACTION PLAN

As reported in the 2005–06 annual report, a workshop on population wellbeing data gaps was held in June 2006, which was jointly organised and convened by the Treasury, the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) and the ABS. The aims of the workshop were: to identify information gaps and data shortcomings considered to be highest priority; to consider mechanisms for satisfying the gaps; and to suggest strategies and ongoing processes to drive forward an effective body of statistical information on population wellbeing over the next 5–10 years.

Following the workshop, Treasury, FaCSIA and the ABS identified a range of actions where, in collaboration with other agencies, progress could be made toward achieving the stated objective of improving the information available to measure population wellbeing. These actions include:

    • undertaking pilot data mapping projects
    • facilitating best practice in data management and access across government
    • improving the usefulness of data collections
    • improving statistical frameworks and standards
    • building capacity within agencies to improve statistical analysis and information management, and
    • establishing an inter-agency activity plan.
The following website includes a brief overview of each area identified for future work, suggested activities for taking the issue forward, and the agencies that could collaborate to progress the work. It is anticipated that this work will be ongoing, with more detailed project plans being released as they are developed: www.nss.gov.au.

Progress has been made on mapping data that exist across agencies but are generally not in an accessible or usable form. Timetables for developing policy can be very short so having data already available would be a better solution than undertaking new collections for meeting information needs in these instances. For this reason, and to minimise reporting loads on individuals, it was agreed by the workshop participants that there needed to be some investigations of data that already exists, their readiness to be used to inform current and urgent issues, and any impediments to their use for these purposes.

The workshop participants identified early childhood, mental health, and humanitarian migrants as potential areas that would benefit from data mapping. The first pilot project involves early childhood, and is being undertaken in collaboration with Treasury, FaCSIA, the Department of Education, Science and Training, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the ABS. As well as identifying available data and the gaps or deficiencies needing to be addressed, the project will also look at data accessibility for statistical purposes, using existing business processes and governance arrangements. The project team is also considering the interagency data management model that would best deliver the outcomes being sought. The report from this first pilot project is expected to be released by the end of 2007.

SUPPORT FOR AGENCIES

The Population and Social Statistics Program has continued to support the work of other agencies in developing 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 Governments’ Review of Government Services Provision and Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage reports, and for key government-funded surveys for which other agencies are responsible. These include the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), and the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC). It has increased engagement with LSAC by providing survey development and data collection services for waves two to four of the survey, under a partnership with the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Did you know?

In 2004–05 the majority (56 per cent) of Australians aged 15 years and over considered their health to be very good or excellent (up from 52 per cent in 2001).

Source: National Health Survey: Summary of Results, 2004–05 (cat. no. 4364.0).



REVIEW OF THE HOUSEHOLD SURVEY PROGRAM

The Population and Social Statistics Program periodically undertakes a major review of its household survey program to ensure emerging issues are being adequately addressed and ongoing measures remain relevant. The latest review commenced in 2006. Leading up to this review, the ABS had been actively engaged with many Australian Government and state and territory government agencies and non-government users of social data to determine emerging needs and key priorities. The June 2006 Population Wellbeing Data Gaps workshop (discussed above) provided timely input to the review. The ABS has also been working with other agencies to develop a number of Information Development Plans, or similar reports, which are designed to take stock of available data, document major needs, and develop a way forward to fill those gaps, including through the household survey program.

Feedback on the state of the survey program was sought via bilateral discussions with senior staff from a small number of Australian Government agencies, who are key stakeholders in the program. A wider consultation process was conducted with other Australian Government agencies, state and territory governments, and other clients seeking their views on the draft program (in terms of content and frequency).

The priorities reflected in the broad content and frequency of a future survey program have generally been supported by key stakeholders. Detailed planning for the program including when particular surveys would best be conducted under the draft program and the funding implications if the program were to be delivered, are being developed.



Table 5.1: The Population and Social Statistics Program

Census of Population and HousingThe Census program conducts a five-yearly census of population and housing. Its aim is to accurately and efficiently measure the number and key characteristics of people in Australia on census night so as to provide a reliable basis for the estimation of the population of each state and territory and to provide timely, high quality and relevant five-yearly benchmark data within areas of social concern (for example, housing, education, labour force) for small geographic areas and for small population groups.

DemographyThe Demography program produces population estimates, by age, sex, country of birth, marital status and geographical distribution; estimates of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population; and estimates of families and households. There are requirements in legislation for population estimates. They are also widely used for electoral and funding purposes, as well as in research and to support policy formulation and planning.

Labour StatisticsThe Labour Statistics program provides information about the structure and performance of the labour market. The program produces interrelated statistics on labour supply (such as labour force participation, unemployment, employment conditions and broader measures of labour underutilisation); labour demand (such as employment, job vacancies and labour costs); and industrial relations.

HealthThe Health program provides information about the health of Australia’s population and about health related services. This includes statistics relating to health status, mortality, disability and factors that affect health outcomes. Statistics are also provided on the health of population groups such as children, youth and older people.

Education and Training StatisticsThe Education and Training Statistics program provides measures of the levels and effects of education and training activity, and covers a range of topics relevant to education and training including school education, non-school activity, and pathways linking education and work.

Crime and Justice StatisticsThe Crime and Justice Statistics program provides measures of the levels and effects of criminal activity, as well as people’s perceptions of their safety and includes national statistics on recorded crime, courts and corrections. The program works to improve the quality of these collections in cooperation with statistical practitioners in the jurisdictions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander StatisticsThe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics program provides information about Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The main sources of these statistics are the five-yearly national Census of Population and Housing, surveys on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians conducted every three years (alternating between health and general social topics), and administrative data such as hospital, school and community services records.

Living Conditions StatisticsThe Living Conditions Statistics program provides information about the material living conditions of the population within a framework of areas of social concern and population groups at risk of disadvantage. Household income, wealth, expenditure, consumption, housing, superannuation and other aspects of material living conditions are central to monitoring material wellbeing. Related areas of measurement and analysis include economic hardship and financial stress which help to provide a wider picture of the material circumstances and living conditions of Australians.

Family and Community StatisticsThe Family and Community Statistics program provides information about family and community wellbeing including time use, child care, volunteering and social capital. A further dimension is the provision of statistics for various population subgroups including women and men, couples and one-parent families, and carers.

Culture and Recreation StatisticsThe Culture and Recreation Statistics program provides information about culture, sport and leisure.

Migrant StatisticsThe Migrant Statistics program provides information on the characteristics and settlement outcomes for various migrant groups.

Rural and Regional StatisticsThe Rural and Regional Statistics program advances the availability of regional data. Activities undertaken under the program include improving access to, and dissemination of, ABS data and data from other sources, and developing new indicators where feasible.

Ageing Statistics The Ageing Statistics program coordinates statistical activities in the field of ageing. Its activities include understanding current and emerging policy issues and debates, and determining what statistics might be appropriate to inform decision making.

Children and Youth StatisticsThe Children and Youth Statistics program provides statistical leadership and coordination across the field of children and youth statistics with the aim of guiding and influencing statistical activity, both ABS and non-ABS, in this field.




This section contains the following subsection :
        The ABS' role in providing information about Australia's diverse society

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