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The last year has seen some major changes for the ABS. The introduction of the Business Statistics Innovation Program (BSIP) will improve our efficiency by restructuring along more functional lines with common infrastructure to support our business into the future. Initiatives to provide an expanded and improved national statistical service will change how the ABS relates to the rest of the statistical system in Australia. These strategies will take a few years to be fully developed, but they are already impacting on the ABS and its work program.
The objectives for the ABS in these developments include:
Advancing technology has already enabled significant changes in ABS work practices. Our dissemination methods have undergone change with the introduction of electronic publications. More and more statistical information is being made available on the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au> including a theme page for Queensland.
Increased emphasis and a clearer focus has been given to the State and Territory Statistical Service (STSS) to take a leading role in the provision of value added products and services specifically designed to meet the needs of state and territory governments. A greater emphasis has been placed on ensuring that our cost recovery activities are run efficiently.
The ABS is changing rapidly and this change is very evident within the Queensland office. 2001 had already seen major changes in the office with the conduct of the 2001 Census of Population and Housing, the finalisation of the Freight Movement Survey, the centralisation of Public Finance in Canberra and the moving of the Large Business Unit to Melbourne.
The decision on BSIP in 2002 meant that some collections and functions were moved between offices. In Queensland, the changes were significant. Queensland gained the National Ageing Statistics Unit, the Administrative Data Acquisition Unit (ADAU), the Local Government Statistics Unit (LGSU) (with responsibility for local government throughout Australia) and the Transport and Tourism National Processing Centres were combined into the National Business Centre for Transport and Tourism with increased responsibilities. The Internet activity survey, which was developed in Queensland, was moved to Western Australia and the Service Industry surveys are being moved to Melbourne.
The focus of the office has changed with these new units to be much more involved in the analysis of data. The challenge for this office has been, and will continue to be, to ensure that these programs are delivered effectively and efficiently.
At this time I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, with a reminder to take special care on the roads during the holiday season. Enjoy yourselves and we look forward to a prosperous 2003.
— Brian DoyleNew Local Government Statistics Unit
The creation of the new Local Government Statistics Unit (LGSU), located in the Queensland office, was an outcome from the 2000–2001 local government review by the ABS. The review was conducted to consider options for the future directions of local government finance statistics, and to explore the relationship between the ABS and local governments. The LGSU has commenced work in standardising Australian state and territory local government finance statistics with the view to also coordinating and collecting non-financial statistics.
The LGSU has been working to produce a new Local Government Purpose Classification (LGPC) to replace the General Purpose Classification (GPC) for local government in 2003. The GPC is currently in use by all levels of government and which will continue to apply for Commonwealth and State sectors. The purpose of the LGPC is to provide a better framework for local government financial transactions, giving local government bodies the ability to classify and report easily a range of financial transactions which are particularly relevant to local government. Currently, all councils use the GPC to fulfil reporting requirements for Grants Commissions, Departments of Local Government and the ABS.
The LGPC when used by councils will provide information on the socioeconomic effects of local government transactions. It will be particularly useful in establishing trends in local government outlays on particular purposes over time. The classification will be used to disseminate broad level aggregated data, for the preparation of ABS government finance statistics for the sector and for National Accounts. It will also be used to provide detailed information for each individual local government authority, required by the respective Local Offices, Divisions and Departments of Local Government and by some national users such as the Bureau of Transport Economics. The LGPC will be used by collection areas within the ABS and additionally can be used by external organisations in policy development for local governments.
For further information contact Dean Bloom on 07 3222 6404 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taxation Data Provide New Regional Statistical Indicators
The Rural and Regional Statistics National Centre (RRSNC) has made further progress in producing regional wage and salary earner estimates from data obtained from the Australian Taxation Office Individual Income Tax Return (ATOIITR) database. Measures of employment and earned income have been derived for small areas which are seen as useful indicators of regional economic activity.
The most detailed small area data available to the ABS comes from the Census of Population and Housing. Although this provides excellent small area data for wage and salary earners (or employees), it is limited by its 5 year periodicity. Information from the ATOIITR database, on the other hand, offers data on an annual basis. Confidentialised data is supplied to the ABS, concorded from postcode of home address to statistical local area. While the two series are not directly comparable, these earned income measures from the ATOIITR database provide a continuing series for researchers who require information on an intercensal basis. It is anticipated that the ATO data will lead to the production of a valuable time series.
The Information Paper: Use of Individual Income Tax Return data for ABS Regional Statistics, Wage and Salary Indicators for Small Areas, 1995–96 and 1996–97 (cat. no. 5673.0), released in November 2001, outlined the methodology and initial results of this research.
In July 2002, a follow-up time series publication was released — Experimental Estimates, Regional Wage and Salary Earner Statistics, Australia, 1995–96 to 1998–99 (cat. no. 5673.0). This publication contains estimates of the number of wage and salary earners as well as the average wage and salary income for local government areas (LGAs), statistical local areas (SLAs), statistical subdivisions (SSDs) and statistical divisions (SDs) for each state and territory of Australia. Data for metropolitan and non-metropolitan regions are also included.
In addition to the statistics presented in the above publications, other data are also available that provide profiles of wage and salary earners. Using age, sex, occupation and income distribution these data, or cross-classified tables, add a richness to the data. These tables are also available annually and can be accessed from the ABS web site under Statistical Products and Services - Datacubes, from the Integrated Regional Database (IRDB) or can be requested from the ABS as a consultancy service.
The first of an intended series of Occasional Papers on specific themes, to highlight the availability of new regional estimates and the ways in which they can be used, is expected to be released in mid-February 2003. Titled Selected Characteristics of Wage and Salary Earners, Remoteness Structure, Australia, Experimental Estimates, 1998–99 (cat. no. 5679.0), it will highlight use of both the new ATO-based wage and salary earner estimates and the ASGC Remoteness Structure. The characteristics analysed by degrees of remoteness in this publication include age, sex, occupation and earned income. The application of the Remoteness Structure to these data brings an added dimension to wage and salary income distribution throughout urban, regional and remote Australia and should contribute to studies of regional advantage and disadvantage.
An example of the comparative analyses that can be generated from these estimates is provided in the following map. At the SLA level, the average Australian wage and salary income for wage and salary earners in 1998–99 was $32,271. The map is shaded to show SLAs as falling above or below this average. Higher than average wage and salary income is concentrated on metropolitan areas as well as remote areas that contain significant mining operations.
For further information contact Mark Nowosilskyj on 08 8237 7358 or email@example.com.
Regional Small Business Statistics
The publication Experimental Estimates: Regional Small Business Statistics, 1995–96 to 1999–2000 (cat. no. 5675.0) was released by the ABS on 28 October 2002. The estimates have been compiled from completed tax returns for companies, partnerships, trusts and individuals declaring business income and/or expenses of between $10,000 and $5m.
In addition to the publication, a suite of five standard tables is being prepared for release in December which will supply more detailed data at statistical division (SD) level for all SDs. As part of this set of standard tables, data will be available for Queensland SDs, giving a new view of the contribution that small business makes to local economic activity.
The publication provides an overview for all SDs for small business. It is not an attempt to deliver the full range of data available, but has been developed to allow users to examine a potentially rich source of economic data and assess its usefulness. The data provide information on the economic activity of small business at a regional level. The statistics in this publication cover 75% of businesses but only 25% of all income, but they are valuable for several reasons. They offer a viable regional time series and the health of large businesses is often reflected in the health of the smaller businesses that deal with them at a local level. Furthermore, the success or failure of small businesses is generally a good indicator of the prevailing economic conditions in a particular region.
The ABS welcomes feedback from readers regarding the usefulness, range and quality of the data and the explanations provided and suggestions for further uses of ATO data.
For further information contact Mark Chalmers on 07 3222 6307, fax 07 3222 6250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ageing Population Gives Birth to Ageing Statistics Unit
A new national statistical unit came into being on 1 July 2002 to focus on an ‘old’ problem — the issue of growing old and all of the implications that the ageing of the population has for policy makers and the community generally. With the prospect of one in four people being aged 65 or more by year 2051 and what that might mean in terms government outlays on pensions and health care, ageing has become a priority issue for the federal government. The National Ageing Statistics Unit (NASU), located in the Queensland office of the ABS, has been given responsibility to take a leadership role in the provision of statistical support for ageing-related policy issues.
The focus of the NASU is to bring existing data (ABS and non-ABS) together to bear on specific questions being asked in respect of policy development and evaluation. These cover workforce, health, lifestyle, social and economic well-being issues and more.
The role of the NASU includes:
The NASU will be keeping interested parties informed of their work and other ageing-relevant news from the ABS via a newsletter Age Matters which will be available in electronic and hard copy form. If you would like to be included on the mailing list for the newsletter Age Matters please contact David Martyn.
For further information contact David Martyn on 07 3222 6206 or email@example.com.
A Tape Measure for the ‘Knowledge Economy’?
In August 2002, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a Discussion Paper in response to the needs of Australia’s policy makers to better understand the economic and social dynamics of knowledge-based activity. The paper proposes a framework and a range of indicators. The aim of the framework is to enable assessment, through use of relevant statistics, of the degree to which Australia is a knowledge-based economy and society.
This framework is one of several produced recently by the ABS to simplify analysis of complicated topics. Such frameworks enable planners and policy makers to make better use of all of the available statistics and help the ABS to address gaps in data coverage.
The framework has five dimensions: context, innovation and entrepreneurship, human capital, information and communications technology, and economic and social impacts and covers both the knowledge-based economy and the knowledge-based society. This is to help policy makers to fully understand the social implications of issues. The ‘digital divide’ (between those who have and those who don’t have good Internet access) is an example of an issue which covers both areas. The term ‘knowledge-based economy’ was coined by the OECD and is defined as an economy which is ‘directly based on the production, distribution and use of knowledge and information’.
Research by the OECD and APEC has concluded that successful modern economies are more knowledge-intensive than ever and that the key to global competition is working smarter and making better use of skills and knowledge. As an example, the ABS estimates that nearly 40% of the Australian work force today are ‘knowledge workers’, compared with 33% in 1989.
The Discussion Paper Measuring a Knowledge-based Economy and Society — An Australian Framework (cat. no. 1375.0) is available free of charge on the ABS web site. The ABS invites comment and discussion on this proposed new framework of data analysis.
A complementary compilation of relevant data has recently been published by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, as Australia as a modern economy — some statistical indicators, 2002.
For further information or to comment on the framework, contact Tony Weir on 02 6252 6709 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Corrective Services, Australia
The June quarter 2002 issue of Corrective Services, Australia (cat. no. 4512.0) was released on 26 September 2002. While the national figures showed a continuing slight upward movement in the average daily number of prisoners between the June quarters 2001 and 2002, large variations in the size and direction of changes were apparent at the state and territory level. During the period from June quarter 2001 to June quarter 2002, Tasmania's average daily prisoner population increased by 18%, with a 10% increase in the period March quarter to June quarter 2002. Western Australia, however, recorded a decrease of 11% between the June quarters 2001 and 2002. The quarterly average for Queensland increased from 4,777 to 4,907 over the same period, a 3% rise. The number of persons in secure custody in Queensland rose 10% over the year to an average of 4,325 for the June quarter, while the number of persons in open custody fell 31% to 582 between June quarter 2001 and June quarter 2002.
While the actual number of prisoners in Australia has increased between the June quarters 2001 and 2002, when compared with the growth in Australia's adult population, the growth in the number of prisoners has not kept pace with the increase in the adult population. This has resulted in Australia's imprisonment rate decreasing by 1% over this period. The imprisonment rate for Queensland rose slightly less than 1% over this period.
For further information contact Robert Letheby on 03 9615 7381 or email@example.com.
Government Spending on Culture
The publication Cultural Funding by Government, Australia, 2000–02 (cat. no. 4183.0) was released by the ABS on 7 August 2002. The publication contains data for Australia with selected data for states/territories.
Funding for cultural activities across all levels of government totalled $4,454.5m in Australia in 2000–01, a 10% increase from the previous financial year. The average cultural funding per person increased by $18 to $231.
Commonwealth Government cultural funding totalled $1,639.7m in 2000-01, an increase of 13% compared with 1999–2000. As was the case in 1999–2000, radio and television services were the main area of funding, receiving $777.2m. Museums other than art museums received the second largest amount of cultural funding from the Commonwealth Government ($306.9m).
State and territory governments provided the most cultural funding in 2000–01 ($1,942.3m), up 8% from 1999–2000, with most funds allocated towards nature parks and reserves ($898.4m), libraries and archives ($297.0m) and museums other than art museums ($255.2m).
The Queensland Government provided a total of $294.3m, with $186.8m allocated to nature parks and reserves, $40.2m to libraries and archives and $43.0m to the Arts (performing arts, performing arts venues, literature, media, etc.).
Local government throughout Australia provided $872.4m for cultural activities in 2000–01, up 7% from 1999–2000. The main cultural activities to receive funding were libraries and archives ($458.7m), public halls and civic centres ($132.5m), art museums ($54.1m) and other museums ($51.0m).
Local governments in Queensland provided a total of $160.7m, $117.4m for Heritage activities (museums, parks, libraries, etc.) and $43.3m for the Arts (public halls, performing arts, literature, media, etc.).
For further information contact Theo Neumann on 08 8237 7449 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABS@ Brings ABS Information to the Desktop of Queensland Government Staff
A contract which took effect from 1 July 2002 between the ABS and the Queensland Government gives staff of listed government entities access to the most up-to-date ABS releases of publications and other related information. Currently there are over 60 Queensland government entities included on the list. The service has proved very popular and is being extensively used, with the majority of downloads being publications and companion data.
The ABS@ service (known as ABS Data to Queensland government users) includes:
ABS staff deliver any consultancies commissioned by Queensland government entities directly into the ABS@ container with appropriate titles and descriptors. This gives Queensland government staff the benefit of access to consultancies commissioned by any of the listed Queensland government entities. The consultancy container can also be used to store data obtained from other sources.
A major product enhancement was made on 19 November 2002, with 1.7GB of information being added, mostly taking into account second release Census 2001 data.
The URL for Queensland government staff to connect to their Datahub is: http://datahub.govnet.qld.gov.au. Here a link will be found to ABS Data. Alternatively, the other path for Queensland government users is:
1 Go to Govnet
2 Click on the GovInfo button
3 Click on Datahub.
For further information contact Garry Wylie on 07 3222 6111 or email@example.com.
The publication Private Hospitals, Australia, 2000–01 (cat. no. 4390.0) was released on 27 September 2002. It presents data from the national census of private hospitals and contains details about the facilities, activities, staffing and finances of all private acute and psychiatric hospitals as well as free-standing day hospital facilities in Australia. The collection includes private acute and psychiatric hospitals that have been licensed by state and territory health authorities and free-standing day hospital facilities approved by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care. The relatively small number of psychiatric hospitals has been combined with acute hospitals to maintain the confidentiality of their data.
There were 54 private acute and psychiatric hospitals in Queensland in 2000–01, providing 5,591 beds. More than half (32) were located outside the Brisbane Statistical Division (the south-east corner of Queensland). Queensland had 10 private acute and psychiatric hospitals with over 200 beds (40% of the Australian total) and the highest number of these hospitals for any state or territory. In addition, there were 36 free-standing day hospitals operating in Queensland during this period.
In 2000–01, Queensland had 22% of the separations from private acute and psychiatric hospitals within Australia, 23% of the patient days and a bed occupancy rate of 73.6%. This rate, although a little higher than the Australian average of 73.1%, is a slight decrease from the rate for Queensland in 1999–2000 (73.9%). The Queensland bed occupancy rate was, however, less than the rate in Victoria for this period (76.1%). The average length of stay in these hospitals was slightly longer in Queensland than in other states at 3.5 days, compared with the Australian average of 3.3 days.
Over 10,000 (23% of the Australian total) full time equivalent (FTE) staff are employed in Queensland private acute and psychiatric hospitals with another 400 (25% of the Australian total) FTE staff employed in free-standing day hospitals. The average number of nursing staff per occupied bed was 1.6 in Queensland acute and psychiatric hospitals, which was equal to the average number for Australia.
The average recurrent expenditure per separation for private acute and psychiatric hospitals in Queensland was $2,096 and per patient day was $597. Both these figures were below the averages for Australia of $2,187 and $657, respectively.
For further information contact Anne Wellington on 07 3222 6062 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Health Survey Results
The publication National Health Survey, Summary of Results, 2001 (cat. no. 4364.0) was released by the ABS on 25 October 2002. The findings of the survey are mixed. More than 80% of Australians considered their health to be good, very good or excellent and 90% assessed their health as being better or about the same as 1 year ago. When compared with the 1989–90 results, smoking was down, exercise up, obesity up and consumption of alcohol at levels which are risky or high risk unchanged.
The proportion of Australians who were smokers decreased to 24%, down from 25% in 1995 and 28% in 1989–90. Queensland had the highest proportion of smokers at 25.5% and ACT the lowest at 20.0%.
The proportion of Australians exercising at low levels has increased from 33% in 1989–90 to 38% in 2001, while the proportion whose exercise level was sedentary (very low or none) decreased from 38% in 1989–90 to 32% in 2001. In Queensland 32.1% of people were sedentary, 37.6% exercised at a low level and 30.2% at a moderate to high level.
Some 30% of males and 38% of females in Australia assessed themselves as overweight, but when body mass index was calculated from the reported height and weight excluding those whose body mass index could not be calculated, 58% of males and 42% of females were in the overweight or obese groups. Queenslanders were the most overweight of all with 48.4% of persons overweight or obese and only 41.9% in the normal weight range.
Among Queensland women 18 years and over, 74.2% reported that they have regular breast examinations of some kind and 57.3% that they have regular pap smear tests, compared with the national figures of 69.3% and 54.6%, respectively.
The alcohol risk of Queenslanders was above the national average, with 11.9% of persons consuming alcohol at a risky or high risk rate, compared with 10.8% nationally.
Four of the 48 tables in the publication National Health Survey, Summary of Results, 2001 contain results broken down by state. These tables present statistics on long term conditions, health actions, selected risk factors and cancer screening practices in women 18 and over. Processing of the National Health Survey results is continuing and more tables presenting statistics for the States and the ACT will be released to the ABS web site as companion data in the near future (note that separate estimates for the NT are not available for this survey, but the NT contributes to national estimates).
For further information contact Darren Evans on 02 6252 6415 or email@example.com.
The ABS is Changing the Labour Force Survey Product Set
In 2003, the ABS is changing the Labour Force Survey (LFS) product set. The new product set will consist of a single hardcopy publication, and revised electronic products. In addition, a new quarterly publication on labour market statistics will be introduced. However, while the LFS product set is changing, the survey will remain as it is, and data will still be released within the same timeframe.
The changes to the product set are being introduced after close consultation with users. The first phase of consultation consisted of a general approach to identify the changes needed. A second phase then presented a draft set of products to users for comment. The changes made to the product set respond to user requests to make the product set easier to navigate and to improve the format of the electronic products.
LFS data is released through two main phases: a first release and, a week later, a detailed release. Changes will occur to the first release products in mid-2003, and the detailed release products in April 2003. The changes to the first release publications include changing the title for the first release publication to Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). This publication will include data from Labour Force, Teenage Employment and Unemployment, Australia, Preliminary (cat. no. 6202.0.40.001), which will be discontinued. The existing detailed release publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6203.0) will cease.
Electronic products include time series spreadsheets and datacubes (multidimensional datasets that enable users to manipulate and dissect data, using SuperTable software). The changes to the electronic products include reorganising the set of spreadsheets, moving them to Excel format and expanding the range of datacubes.
A new quarterly publication called Australian Labour Market Statistics (cat. no. 6105.0) will be introduced to present an overview of the Australian labour market, with data sourced from household and employer-based collections. It will provide a broad spectrum of information on labour issues, including a range of tables and articles. The first issue of this publication will be released in April 2003.
An Information Paper: Changes to Labour Force Survey Products (cat. no. 6297.0) is due for release 13 December 2002. This paper outlines the need for the review of the products, the changes to the product set, the timing of the changes, the transitional arrangements, and the contents of the new product set.
Users can find out the latest news on changes through the Labour theme page, which will be updated regularly.
During the transition phase, the ABS will be sending out emails to notify users when the Labour theme page is updated. To be included on the email list, contact Lorraine Cornehls.
For further information contact Lorraine Cornehls on 02 6252 6079, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Statistics on Regional Queensland Now Available
Everything you wanted to know about regional Queensland is now available, with the recent release of Regional Statistics, Queensland, 2002 (cat. no. 1362.3) by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The publication presents a statistical summary of key economic and social information for regional Queensland from both ABS and non-ABS sources in an easy to read format.
Regional Statistics, Queensland, 2002 contains tables of time series data at the state and statistical division level as well as the latest available local government area data. Topics include demography/population estimates, births and deaths, schools and students, selected crime statistics, social security customers, and agriculture. Special feature articles present data from the first release of the 2001 Census of Population and Housing and the Labour Force surveys.
Some snippets of interesting data that can be found in the publication:
For further information contact Robyn MacDonald on 07 3222 6232 or email@example.com.
Non-profit Institutions Satellite Account
Non-profit institutions (NPIs) play an important role in the provision of welfare, social and other services in Australia. In doing so, they also mobilise a large number of volunteers. NPIs are many and varied, but their key characteristic is that they are constituted so that there are no shareholders who have a claim on any profit or the equity of the organisation. They are also likely to receive a substantial part of their funding from government and public donations and fundraising to supplement income from sales of goods and services. Many of them are also registered charities, but many are not.
In recent years, the ABS has steadily increased the statistical information available on NPIs. Publications include Community Services, Australia, 1999–2000 (cat. no. 8696.0), Sports Industries, Australia, 2000–01 (cat. no. 8686.0), Voluntary Work, Australia, 2000 (cat. no. 8696.0), Private Hospitals, Australia 1999–2000 (cat. no. 4390.0) and Generosity of Australian Businesses, 2000–01 (cat. no. 8157.0).
Australian National Accounts: Non-profit Institutions Satellite Account, 1999–2000 (cat. no. 5256.0) was released on 28 November 2002, and is the most comprehensive statistical account to date for NPIs.
The Non-profit Institutions Satellite Account measures NPI activity within the context of the national accounts so that the services provided can be valued and relationships with other sectors such as households, government and corporations can be drawn out. It brings together all of the partial information so that the sector can be studied as a whole. Some of the key results are listed below.
In 1999–2000, non-profit institutions added $20,808m or 3.3% of Australia’s GDP. The value of volunteer services was estimated at $8,874m. When volunteer services are included in GDP, the NPI contribution increases to $29,682m or 4.7% of the adjusted GDP.
Employment in non-profit institutions is substantial, representing 604,000 persons, or 6.8% of total employed persons in 1999–2000.
Of the total NPI gross value added, Education and research contributed 31%, Culture and recreation 23%, Social services 17%, Health 15%, Business and professional associations and unions 3% and the remainder 11%.
By way of comparison, the gross value added of NPIs in total exceeds that of a number of industries, including Communication services; Accommodation, cafes and restaurants; and Electricity, gas and water. At 3.4% of total gross value added, its share is only slightly less than that of Agriculture, forestry and fishing (3.5%). If the value of volunteering were also to be included, the NPI share (4.9%) is greater than Mining (4.6%).
For further information contact Tony Johnson on 02 6252 7297 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voluntary Work 2000
Voluntary work plays a very important role in meeting needs within the community and helping to develop and reinforce social networks and cohesion. In the Survey of Voluntary Work conducted throughout Australia in 2000, the ABS collected data on what kinds of people volunteer and the varied activities they undertake, among other things. Interesting information from the survey includes the differences in the kinds of organisations men and women volunteer for and the different levels of volunteering across the States and Territories and between the big cities and regional Australia.
For further information contact Javad Seyedi on 02 6252 6063, or email@example.com.
2002 General Social Survey (GSS)
Processing of the GSS, which was collected in the period from March to July 2002, is well under way. The GSS, which is the first survey of its type conducted by the ABS, has a different focus from other ABS household surveys. Rather than concentrating in detail on a particular area of social concern, the GSS will provide a wide range of information about the same individuals. This will make it possible to explore linkages between areas of social concern, for instance multiple social disadvantage across various aspects of peoples’ lives. These could include poor health status, physical or mental disability, low income or dependency on government pensions or allowances, financial stress, consumer debt, transport difficulties, travel time to work, work status, hours worked, personal stress, absence of support networks and more. Both national and state level estimates will be available from the survey.
The initial publication, General Social Survey, Australia (cat. no. 4159.0) is expected to be released in April 2003.
For further information contact Graeme Groves on 02 6252 5943 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Offender Based Statistics Collection
Work is progressing with the development of data collection on all offenders proceeded against and recorded by police. The Offender Based Statistics (OBS) collection will improve general knowledge about crime and the characteristics of the people who commit crime, as well as the level of contact police have with offenders.
Information on offenders proceeded against by police will assist in bridging the gap that exists nationally between information that is known about victims of crime and the subset of persons who are proceeded against in the criminal courts. Offender information recorded by police provides valuable measures of the volume and characteristics of offenders at the widest part of the ‘funnel’ that forms the entry into the criminal justice system. Offender information also assists in evaluating the effect of crime and justice policy at the national level.
A draft of the proposed OBS framework has been developed, and was included in an OBS Manual distributed to all state and territory police agencies in June 2002. The Manual has been used as a guide for the extraction of OBS test data, which was received by all state and territory police agencies in early September 2002. The test data included: date of birth of offender, sex of offender, indigenous status of offender (where available), method of proceeding against the offender, and the number and types of offences.
The analysis of the test data will be presented for discussion at the November 2002 National Crime Statistics Advisory Group and the December 2002 Police Statisticians’ meetings. Following these discussions, the collection framework will be finalised.
For further information contact Catherine Andersson on 03 9615 7375 or email@example.com.
Understanding Differences in Recorded Crime Statistics
The National Crime Statistics Unit (NCSU) of the ABS has begun work on a project to investigate State and Territory differences in recorded crime statistics. This project has the endorsement of State and Territory Police Commissioners, and will run for a period of 2 years.
This project aims to identify issues relevant to understanding the nature and extent of the impact of various factors on the national comparability of recorded crime statistics as published in the ABS publication, Recorded Crime, Australia (cat. no. 4510.0).
Official statistics drawn from crimes recorded by police provide a regular indicator of levels of crime over time. However, they are not the only indicator, as not all crime comes to the attention of police. Over recent years, the NCSU has become increasingly aware of differences between States and Territories with regard to how crimes are reported and recorded by police.
Since the development of the national crime statistics collection in 1990 the policing environment has changed considerably. In particular, there has been a large shift from paper-based systems to advanced IT systems for the storage of information on crime. Such changes have been more frequent in recent times, and although the NCSU has been able to conduct limited work on investigating these changes through its quality assurance strategy and various analytical work, there is a need to further investigate possible sources of differences for all states and territories.
More recently, there has been increased pressure from police agencies and other government departments to look at the differences in recorded crime figures between States and Territories. With the emphasis now on ‘performance culture’ within police agencies, the use of recorded crime statistics data as a performance indicator for police increases the pressure to make sure that these data are better understood.
There are five broad phases to be investigated in this project, each of which has a number of associated components. These are:
1. Crime which is committed
2. Crime which is reported to police
3. Crime which is recorded by police
4. How crime is recorded by police
5. How crime statistics are compiled from official police records
The key outcomes for this project will include:
For further information contact Catherine Andersson on 03 9615 7375 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Measuring Australia’s Progress
Measuring Australia’s Progress (MAP) was launched by the Australian Statistician on 4 April 2002. It uses a set of indicators to help readers assess whether the economic, social and environmental aspects of life in Australia progressed over the 1990s.
One of the most important tasks that a statistical agency can take on is informing the discussion about national progress. But this is also likely to provoke vigorous debate, because there is no universal agreement regarding what dimensions of progress are most important, or what indicators best encapsulate those dimensions. MAP is a deliberately experimental publication, and the Statistician’s foreword invited readers to comment on it.
Comments received since MAP was launched have been predominantly favourable. Many articles appeared in the press. The Sydney Morning Herald commented “the Bureau of Statistics, for instance, issues some new stats most days, many of which get a lot of media attention, but rarely does it issue anything as remotely important as Measuring Australia’s Progress”. At seminars around the country, audiences were very supportive. At least two states are now considering compiling similar measures at the state level.
However, not all the comments have been favourable. Some commentators have argued that MAP should be underpinned by a more overt conceptual framework. Some have expressed disappointment that the ABS has not presented indicators for some dimensions of progress (such as the quality of national, business and community governance) and some disagreed with the choice and balance of progress indicators.
In October 2002, the ABS hosted a workshop in which government, academic, community and other representatives were asked to review the publication and offer their views on the future course of progress measurement. Those attending were supportive of the project and the publication. But they also made suggestions about how the next issue of MAP might be improved; suggestions which are being considered at the moment.
The whole first issue of Measuring Australia’s Progress (cat. no. 1370.0) can be downloaded from ABS@ and the ABS web site. The next issue of MAP is scheduled for release in February 2004.
For further information contact Jon Hall on 02 6252 7221 or email@example.com.
Indigenous Social Survey
Collection of data for the first Indigenous Social Survey (ISS) is being undertaken between August and December this year. Information is being collected by personal interview from approximately 12,000 Indigenous people aged 15 years and over throughout Australia, including those living in remote and very remote areas. The ISS will provide a range of information relating to the social, economic and cultural participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The ISS will allow the exploration of relationships between issues such as health, housing, education and employment. It will also share some data items with the 2002 General Social Survey (GSS) and the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey (NATSIS). These links will enable comparative evaluations of the current wellbeing of Indigenous people in Australia.
For further information contact Grazyna Majchrzak-Hamilton on 02 6252 5055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sampling Strategies for Indigenous Household Surveys
The expanded ABS household survey program involves a series of regular large scale surveys of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. These include the Indigenous Social Survey (ISS) currently being undertaken and the planned Indigenous Supplement to the 2004 National Health Survey (NHSI). These surveys both aim to enumerate in excess of 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Australia wide, a significant proportion of the Indigenous population. The surveys present numerous challenges to all aspects of the survey process, particularly the development of appropriate sampling methodologies.
Remote Area Sampling
Approximately 20% of the Indigenous population reside in remote areas as defined in the Access/Remoteness Index for Australia (ARIA). These areas are within the scope of Indigenous household surveys, unlike most other ABS special social household surveys. Surveying in remote areas presents many problems, including:
The 2001 NHSI saw the introduction of a list based frame into an ABS household survey which aimed to address the problems of sampling in remote areas. In remote areas the Indigenous population resides largely in communities which are registered on the Community and Housing Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS). It was considered that the operational advantages of using a list based frame of CHINS communities far outweighed the impact of slight undercoverage. These advantages include:
Non-Remote Area Sampling
Sampling Indigenous people in non-remote areas faces the daunting prospect of attempting to sample a rare population whose exact location is unknown. Sampling in non-remote areas involves a large search phase to initially identify households which contain Indigenous persons. It is this facet of the sampling methodology which is the most problematic. Based on 1996 census figures, approximately 7% of the Indigenous population reside in CDs which contain only one Indigenous household. For some states this figure is much higher, (e.g. 28% in Victoria). Due to the significant numbers of Indigenous people residing in CDs with low Indigenous household density, it is not feasible to justify putting them out of scope of Indigenous surveys. This invariably leads to very high screening costs in order to identify and enumerate Indigenous households in these areas. For example, the 2001 NHSI non-remote sample aimed to select approximately 1,065 fully responding Indigenous households. In order to achieve this, roughly 37,250 households were selected to be screened!
Adding to the problem is the mobility of the Indigenous population. For example, the 2001 NHSI sample design was based on census figures which were 5 years out of date. This has resulted in a lower than expected Indigenous sample takes in some areas and reduced sample efficiency.
For the 2002 ISS a number of methodologies have been investigated to develop more effective and efficient sampling methodologies for non-remote Indigenous surveys.
For further information on sampling techniques please contact Alistair Rogers on 02 6252 7334 or email@example.com.
Not Your Average Average
Have you ever calculated the average of a set of data and found that it doesn’t give you an accurate picture of the situation? Strange as this may seem, the average is not always your best measure. There are three ways to measure the ‘average’ and each has its own special uses depending on the kind of dataset and the purpose of the user. These three different measures are the mean, the median and the mode and are collectively known as the ‘Measures of Central Tendency’. If at all possible you should attempt to find all three in order to have as much information about the central tendency of the dataset as possible.
The mean of a dataset is what most people think of as the average, simply add the values up and divide by the number of data points. This gives the simple arithmetic mean of the dataset and is the mean used in statistics. For most datasets it gives a good index of central tendency — the point around which the values of the dataset tend to cluster. However, for some datasets the mean is not the ‘best’ measure of central tendency. An example is this: most people have more than the average number of legs! When people with one or no legs are included, the average has to fall below two. Some knowledge of the data is needed before deciding on which measure to use!
The median of a dataset is that figure which divides it into two parts with half of the entries larger than it and half of them smaller. To find the median, first sort the values into ascending order. If there is an odd number of values, the median is the middle value of the set. If there is an even number, the median is the arithmetic mean of the middle two values. For some purposes the median may give a better general index of the size of the entries in the dataset, as large outliers may make the average (mean) move toward them. For example, in an area occupied mainly by small businesses, a few large business may increase the average (mean) number of persons employed per business in the area to a level that does not reflect either the large group of small businesses or the small group of large businesses. Unlike the mean, the median is not drawn toward any outlier.
The median is the preferred measure under the following situations:
The mode is defined as that value or value range (where data are collected as ranges) which occurs the most frequently. If the dataset is a continuously variable, the possibility exists that no two data points are the same. In this case, it would be useful to convert the data to a number of small ranges, one of which may show a frequency of occurrence greater than the rest — the modal range — the range within which most data points are clustered. An unusual sort of dataset when plotted in this way may show two maxima and this is called a bimodal dataset. Fortunately for statisticians, this is the exception rather than the rule and most datasets follow a bell shaped curve (known as the normal distribution, because datasets are normally like it) for which statistical probabilities can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy. For the normal distribution or any other symmetric distribution free of outliers, the mean, median and mode coincide.
Second Release Census Data Out Now
The ABS is pleased to announce that the 2001 Census Second release data (which incorporates all First Release census data) is now available. The Second Release products comprise: Basic Community Profiles (BCPs) and Indigenous Profiles (IPs), Census Snapshots and Census Basics (CD-ROM format).
Some variables released on 19 November include household income, industry of employment, occupation and social marital status data.
BCPs provide detailed census data for small areas in 33 tables. They provide all the basic demographic information needed to gain a statistical profile of an area. They include information on the age, ancestry, income, education, computers and Internet usage, family type, housing circumstances and other important characteristics of areas.
BCPs are available free on the ABS web site for the areas of Australia, state/territory, statistical divisions, statistical subdivisions and statistical local areas.
Second Release BCPs are now available for the following additional geographical classifications: Statistical Regions (SR), Section of State (SOS), Remoteness Areas (RA), and Urban Centres/Localities (UCL).
Second Release IPs are also now available for Remoteness Areas (RA).
Free BCPs and are available to the statistical local area level and free IPs are available to the Indigenous Area level on the ABS web site www.abs.gov.au/census.
Census Snapshots provide a narrative summary of census information for selected areas. The information is extracted from BCP tables, and can be used as a reference source or readily adapted for use in reports or newsletters. They also include some time series information.
Census Snapshots are all free, and available for the areas of Australia, states/territory, capital city statistical divisions and statistical local areas.
In addition to the second release of these products, the ABS is also pleased to announce the release of the new Australian Indigenous Geographical Classification Maps and Census Profiles (cat. no. 4706.0.30.001) CD-ROM. This new product provides a visual representation of the geographic levels in the Australian Indigenous Geographical Classification which comprises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) Regions, Indigenous Areas and Indigenous Locations. Maps are provided in Adobe Acrobat format with the respective Indigenous Profiles also provided in Excel format down to Indigenous Area level. Boundary concordances and comparability listings are also provided to aid time series comparisons. This product is an essential reference tool when using the 2001 Census results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
For further information contact the ABS National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brisbane Social Atlas
Explore Brisbane through the census publication, Brisbane Social Atlas, 2001.
The Brisbane Social Atlas, 2001 (cat. no. 2030.3) was released on 6 December 2002. The publication presents information on the social, economic and housing characteristics of populations in the Brisbane and surrounding local government areas. The atlas presents information in an easy to understand format through the use of colourful maps and enlightening commentary.
The publication contains a set of 36 maps covering population, ethnicity, education, families, income, labour force and dwellings. Also included are maps on topics specific to Brisbane, for example, the number of students attending non-government schools. The maps are easy to interpret and give a bird's eye view of Brisbane.
Informative commentary that is easily understood accompanies the maps and highlights the major findings against each of the core set of characteristics included in the Social Atlas.
Furthermore, a new map has been included in the 2001 Social Atlas on the number of people who had used the Internet at home in the week before census night.
There is a Social Atlas publication for each capital city, the release dates of other publications in the Social Atlas series can be found on the ABS web site.
The Social Atlases are presented in a convenient A4 format and spiral bound for ease of use. They are a colourful and readily understood reference and are a valuable information resource.
For further information contact Gary Allen on 07 3222 6403 or email@example.com.
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