1001.0 - Annual Report - ABS Annual Report, 2001-02  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/10/2002   
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Contents >> Section 2 - Special Articles >> Chapter 3 - Measuring Australia's Progress - Processes in developing Measuring Australia's Progress

The ABS developed Measuring Australia’s Progress in accord with key principles for the National Statistical Service - access for all, relevance, integrity and professionalism.

When developing Measuring Australia’s Progress, the ABS drew on the expertise of economic, social and environmental statisticians in Australia and abroad. The ABS also examined the dozens of framework documents and indicator suites relating to progress, wellbeing and sustainability that have been published or are under development. No one of these has yet emerged as the definitive standard for measuring progress, and some matters are still the subject of vigorous debate.

The new publication was developed over a two year period, much of which was taken up in consultation with several hundred government agencies, other organisations and individuals. The form of the new publication, the range of indicators it was to include, and much of its analytical content, were exposed to public review for almost a year before its release in April 2002.

The consultation process itself commenced during the second half of 2000 when the ABS gathered ideas (chiefly from experts in government and universities) regarding the feasibility and focus of a suite of national progress indicators. During the development period, we had three meetings with a Reference Group. They provided a number of useful ideas which we took on board but there were many proposals from the group which were not taken up. In November 2000 and April 2001, papers describing the objectives, audience and style of the publication were considered by the Economic Statistics User Group and the Australian Statistics Advisory Council. These bodies together include representatives of Commonwealth and state policy agencies, business, and academic and community organisations, and a number of useful suggestions were made.

Toward the end of April 2001, the ABS released a 50 page discussion paper that described the philosophy and proposed design of the publication. This paper also provided:

  • the complete preliminary list of proposed dimensions and indicators;
  • commentary explaining why each headline indicator was proposed and how it would be constructed;
  • draft analytical essays for one economic dimension (national income), one social dimension (health) and one environmental dimension (water); and
  • a proposal for including social attachment among the dimensions of progress, and a list of indicators that might be used.

The ABS invited all who read the discussion paper to send us their comments. The paper was sent to 450 organisations and individuals, and the ABS received around 60 written submissions and comments.

Additional oral comments on the schema for the publication and the proposed dimensions and indicators were received at the open consultation seminars that the ABS conducted in all eight state and territory capitals during May 2001. These seminars were attended by several hundred participants. Between November 2001 and January 2002, the entire draft manuscript was submitted for review by senior economic, social and environmental analysts in government, research agencies and the private sector.

There was an overwhelmingly favourable response to the ABS plan to develop such a publication. The ABS received a large volume of diverse and valuable suggestions regarding its content - and, although not all suggestions were adopted, the quality of the final publication benefited immeasurably from the ideas of the people who were consulted or asked to review the drafts. The final decision on the content was with the Australian Statistician.


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