Year Book Australia provides a comprehensive overview of the economic and social conditions of contemporary Australia. It is a statistically-oriented publication with sufficient background information to establish a context for the statistics and to assist in understanding and interpreting them. It also contains descriptive matter dealing with Australia’s geography and climate, government, international relations, defence, education, and the health and welfare systems.
The source of many of the statistics are censuses and surveys conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the national statistical agency which produces the Year Book. However, a great deal of the information is also contributed by other, predominantly Australian Government, organisations. The official nature of the contributors to the Year Book ensures a high degree of objectivity and reliability in the picture presented of contemporary Australia.
This current (88th) edition is the latest in a long series of Year Books extending back to the first edition in 1908. This series provides a valuable source of information on the state of Australia at any point in this period. This edition of Year Book Australia has a major theme of Australia's deserts, marking the declaration by the General Assembly of the United Nations of 2006 as the International Year of Deserts and Desertification. The ABS invited four authors who are experts in their area of interest to contribute to the feature article, Australia's deserts, in this edition. The article addresses three related aspects of Australia's deserts -- climate; archaeology and environmental history; and flora and fauna. The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research has also contributed an article, outlining the role the Australian Government is playing in assisting countries combat desertification.
The statistics contained in this edition are the most recent available at the time of its preparation. In many cases, the ABS web site <http://www.abs.gov.au> and the web sites of other organisations provide access to more recent statistics. The ABS Catalogue of Publications and Products (1101.0) lists all current publications of the ABS. The enclosed CD-ROM provides an electronic version of the 2006 Year Book and the publications catalogue.
The contents pages at the beginning of the Year Book provide a guide to the broad subjects contained in each chapter. The index assists in locating information on more specific subjects. A list of articles which have appeared in the previous ten editions of Year Book Australia is contained at the end of this edition. A collection of articles is included on the ABS web site.
The tables and graphs in a chapter are numbered and the text is cross-referenced, as necessary, to the table or graph to which it relates.
While the statistics and descriptive information contained in the Year Book provide a comprehensive overview of Australia, they represent only a relatively small part of the statistics and other information available. The Year Book is aimed primarily at providing a ready and convenient source of reference, both to those familiar and unfamiliar with a particular subject. In other words, because of the range of subjects, and limitations on the size of the Year Book, it aims at breadth rather than depth of information.
For those requiring information in greater depth, the Year Book also serves as a directory to more detailed sources, with the source shown for each statistical table, graph and map. Where the ABS is the source, the title and catalogue number of the relevant publication are quoted. For other sources, the name of the organisation is shown, and the publication title where appropriate. Relevant ABS and other publications are also listed at the end of each chapter, together with a selection of relevant web sites.
As well as the information included in this Year Book, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Charges are generally made for such information. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
The annual reports of government departments and agencies also provide a valuable source of more detailed information on subjects covered in the Year Book. Information may be obtained from the relevant web sites, the addresses of which are provided throughout and at the end of chapters of the Year Book.
For a variety of reasons, it is not possible for all statistics in the Year Book to relate to the latest or the same year. Readers wishing to obtain or clarify the latest available statistics should contact the relevant source or access the relevant web site.
REFERENCE TO THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT
Australia has a federal system of government comprising a national government, and the governments of the six states and two territories. In Year Book Australia 2006 the national government is referred to as either 'the Australian Government' or 'the Commonwealth Government'. On occasions the shortened term 'the Commonwealth' or 'the Government' is used when referring to the national government.
COMMENTS FROM READERS
The ABS endeavours to keep the balance of the contents of the Year Book in line with the ever-changing nature of the nation. For this reason comments on the adequacy and balance of the contents of the Year Book are welcomed and should be directed to the attention of the Editor of the Year Book, Australian Bureau of Statistics, PO Box 10, Belconnen ACT 2616.