1370.0.00.002 - Measures of Australia's Progress - Aspirations for our Nation: A Conversation with Australians about Progress , 2011-12  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/05/2013   
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The MAP Expert Reference Group

The ABS’s approach to the MAP consultation has been guided and endorsed by a MAP Expert Reference Group (ERG).The ERG is chaired by the Australian Statistician, Brian Pink, and includes eminent representatives from business, community, research and government organisations (see figure 1.2). A similar group had provided broad direction and advice to the ABS for a lot of the time since MAP’s inception. It was reconvened to guide the 2011-2012 consultation. The ERG has provided feedback to the ABS at each step of the consultation process and will continue to advise the ABS throughout the redevelopment of MAP 2013.

ERG advice on and endorsement of the consultation approach and model — particularly the idea of identifying Australian’s aspirations for progress — has been critical to the success of the MAP consultation. The ERG members also directly participated in the consultation through attending and leading the MAP forum.

Figure 1.2: MAP ERG membership list (appearing in alphabetic order).

Current members
Brian Pink Australian Statistician (Chair)
Bill AllenBranch Head, Economic and Environment Statistics Group, ABS
David BorthwickEx Secretary, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
John DaleyChief Executive Officer, Grattan Institute
Richard EckersleyIndependent Researcher; Director, Australia21 Ltd.
Dominic EnglishExecutive Director, Strategy and Delivery Division, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
Jenny GordonPrincipal Adviser Research, Productivity Commission
David HedleySenior Adviser, Economic Conditions & Outlook, Economic Policy Branch, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
Tshibanda Gracia NgoyERG Youth Representative, 2011 Young People’s Human Rights Medallist and Welcome to Australia Ambassador
Rob RaetherPrincipal Adviser of Industry, Environment and Defence Division, The Treasury
Mike SalvarisAdjunct Professor, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
Fiona StanleyResearch Professor, School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia
Rob WardStrategy Council member of the Global Foundation
Previous members
(who provided advice on the 2011/12 MAP consultation)
Subho Banerjee former Executive Director, Strategy and Delivery Division, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
Ben Rimmerformer Deputy Secretary, Strategic Policy & Implementation, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
Jason Russoformer Branch Head, Economic Analysis and Reporting Branch, ABS
Ken Tallisformer Deputy Director, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Sue Vroomboutformer General Manager, Commonwealth State Relations Division, The Treasury
Damien Whiteformer Principal Adviser, Social Policy Division, The Treasury

The consultation model

The ABS began the consultation process by publishing an online feature article in MAP 2010 (launched at NatStats 2010), titled ‘Future directions for measuring Australia’s progress’ (ABS 2010). The article outlined the approach for the consultation, including a model to guide how the ABS planned to collect consultation feedback. That model (see figure 1.3) identified the broad aspects of Australian life the ABS was seeking feedback about: that is, society, the economy, the environment and a new area that the ABS had been encouraged to explore – governance.

Figure 1.3: MAP consultation model.
Figure 1.3: MAP consultation model.

The consultation model shows the individuals, families and communities who make up society; the economic and governance systems that enable society to function; and the natural environment on which society depends.

The model seeks to show progress as the unambiguous movement of society in a positive direction – that is, an improvement. Importantly, this idea of improvement implies there are aspirations (or end points) in mind that society is progressing towards, and that these need to be defined in order to know whether progress is occurring.

Conceptualising progress in this way clarifies that, in order to measure whether Australia is progressing, it is important to understand the broad aspirations Australians hold for their country. To this end, the consultation has focused on identifying those aspirations Australians hold for national progress in the four broad areas (i.e. society, economy, environment and governance).

The feature article (ABS 2010) also made it clear that proposing aspirations for national progress was the role of the Australian public; that is, the aspirations needed to reflect the values and interests of a wide range of Australians. The role of the ABS was to facilitate the discussion about progress, drawing out views and compiling them into a set of aspirational statements. In doing this, the ABS encouraged participants to focus on the ends (or aspirations), rather than the means of achieving these ends. In this way, broad aspirations, such as ‘good health for all’,could be agreed on without the conversation becoming focused on how the aspirations could be achieved – a process outside the role of the ABS and the review of MAP’s statistical framework. Throughout the consultation process, the aspirations were further refined with a view to underpinning progress measures. The design of appropriate progress measures for the areas of life represented by the aspirations will be the focus of the next phase of the MAP redevelopment.

The consultation process and milestones

Eighteen months after the launch of the ABS’s consultation, this publication documents how the ABS gathered and compiled a diverse range of aspirations for progress from a broad range of Australians through a variety of communication avenues (see figure 1.4).

Figure 1.4: MAP consultation channels overview.
Figure 1.4: MAP consultation channels overview.

The viewpoints of Australians were initially gained through state based workshops where people from state, local government and community organisations provided valuable source ideas for the consultation (see Chapter 3).Topic Advisory Panels were then engaged to provide expert guidance and analysis of the evolving aspirational ideas, which they did at several stages throughout the consultation process (see Chapter 2).The ABS asked a number of well-known Australians to share their personal views on progress and to launch a social media conversation with people who might not otherwise engage with statistics (see Chapter 1).The ABS looked at how state governments have articulated the aspirations of their constituents in state plans or similar documents (see Chapter 3);and met with and received the submissions of a number of federal government agencies (see Chapter 4).Submissions were invited and received from a broad range of organisations across government, business, community and academic sectors. In addition, the ABS has researched what international statistical agencies and other organisations have found when considering progress and related ideas (see Chapter 5).The major milestones of this extensive consultation process are shown on the following page (see figure 1.5).

Figure 1.5 MAP consultation process and milestones. 
Figure 1.5 MAP consultation process and milestones.

Feedback from the consultation

The ABS’s method for bringing the consultation feedback together has been iterative. That is, following each phase of the consultation process, the ABS has undertaken a careful and methodical thematic analysis of the feedback received; drawing out and grouping common themes, articulating the important elements of those ideas and refining the aspirations and views expressed by participants. The result has been a set of aspirations for national progress that has evolved throughout the consultation process and the ABS hopes that these results will resonate with Australians.

As well as aspirations for national progress, the ABS has included in this publication a number of quotes from people or organisations who contributed to the MAP consultation. These comments give readers a flavour of the discussions that have taken place and an insight into both the complexities and common themes that have emerged from asking people ‘what is important for national progress?’ It should be noted that the quotations reflect the views of the individuals, and not necessarily the ABS or Australians more generally.

Figure 1.6 shows the overarching areas of life that Australians thought important for national progress. This preview of the results displays the domains and themes that emerged from the consultation process. For the complete set of results, please see Section Two of this document.

Figure 1.6: MAP consultation results – domains and themes
Figure 1.6: MAP consultation results – domains and themes