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‘Why do statistics matter? In simple terms, they are the evidence on which policies are built. They help to identify needs, set goals and monitor progress. Without good statistics, the development process is blind: policy-makers cannot learn from their mistakes, and the public cannot hold them accountable’ (World Bank, 2000: vii).
There is an increasing emphasis from Australian and international governments on the importance of evidence based decision making in guiding policy processes (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2005). The use of statistical information is vital for making evidence based decisions that guide the implementation of new policy, monitor existing policy, and evaluate the effectiveness of policy decisions. It is therefore essential that policy makers are equipped with the skills and ability to understand, interpret and draw appropriate conclusions from statistical information.
This guide provides an overview of how statistical information can be used to make well informed policy decisions. Throughout the guide references are made to other resources, relevant training courses and associated frameworks that provide more detail.