7.1 DATA ISSUES
Twenty four RDA committees reported shortcomings in the availability or quality of data. Often reports did not identify specific data gaps, but reported a general lack of reliable and consistent regional data. Specific data gaps were, however, identified in relation to economic and industry data, as many regions wanted to be able to identify economic opportunities and align training with industry needs more easily. This required better data regarding the types of businesses in regions, business activity, emerging industries and skills shortages. Other notable gaps included information about regional grants programs, growth patterns, land use changes, the impact of natural disasters and social service provision.
Issues of regional data quality were also reported. For example, some RDAs were concerned that government funding and service provision were based on usual resident population estimates and excluded transient workers and people who travel across state borders to access services (see McKay / Whitsunday RDA, 2011, p. 17 and Loddon Mallee RDA, 2010, p. 39). The Far North region in South Australia reported that data at the postcode level in outback SA does not accurately reflect the region’s socio-economic disadvantage (RDA Far North (SA), 2011, p. 54). It was also identified in Perth’s roadmap that the boundaries of Perth according to RDA do not fully align with the boundaries of the Perth Statistical Division used by the ABS (Perth RDA, 2012, p. 4). Furthermore, the Indian Ocean Territories raised the issue that the ABS does not publish Estimated Resident Population by age and sex for Christmas Island or publish separate statistics for the two Cocos Island populations (RDA Midwest Gascoyne Indian Ocean Territories Regional Plan (draft for consultation), 2011, pp. 9- 11).
Another frequently raised issue was the desire for an integrated regional data set where a range of regional information could be pooled and accessed by all stakeholders. It was frequently reported that data collection and dissemination were dispersed, duplicated, out-of-date and lacked integration. Many RDA committees suggested that a single comprehensive data set including economic, social and environmental data would be useful for policy, planning and investment decisions.