Year Book Australia is the principal reference work produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). It provides a comprehensive statistical picture of the economy and social conditions in Australia. In addition, it contains descriptive matter dealing with Australia’s geography and climate, its population, the environment, government, international relations, defence, education, health, income and and welfare, housing and crime and justice.
The ABS and its predecessor, the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, have been providing a statistical service to the Australian, state and territory governments and to the Australian community for more than 100 years.
The first Official Year Book of the Commonwealth was published in 1908, although individual Australian states and colonies had been producing year books for several decades previously. Over the past 100 years, the ABS and its predecessor have maintained the tradition of publishing the Year Book. The Foreword to this edition, the 90th, marks this achievement.
As with previous editions, some feature articles are included. The world-wide Scouting movement celebrated its centenary last year. To commemorate this and to recognise the contribution that Scouting has made to the Australian community, the Australian Government has designated 2008 the Year of the Scout. Scouts Australia gladly accepted the ABS's invitation to contribute to an article featured in this edition of the Year Book.
The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the year 2008 to be the International Year of Planet Earth. The ABS invited Geoscience Australia, the Australian Government agency with responsibility for coordinating Australia's involvement in the International Year, together with several other Australian Government departments to contribute articles that relate to the Year's goals or research themes. Their contributions are presented throughout this edition.
Statistics contained in this edition are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website <http://www.abs.gov.au> and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. You can browse tables, time series spreadsheets, data cubes, information papers, associated products and media releases that relate to topics covered in the Year Book, and download the information from the ABS website at no cost.
ABS products draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation in helping maintain our world class statistical system is very much appreciated.
Particular thanks are extended to those Australian Government and other organisations which have kindly supplied material for inclusion in this edition of the Year Book.
Thank you also to the many ABS staff who contributed to the preparation and production of Year Book Australia 2008.