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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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
DEVELOPMENTS IN CLIENT ENGAGEMENT AND OUTPUT ENHANCEMENT
The ABS has continued to work closely with its population and social statistics clients to ensure that:
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:
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.