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Newsletters - APS Stats Network - Record of Meeting - 10 April 2002

Record of Stats Network meeting, Wednesday 10 April 2002
Venue: Wilson Conference Room, ABS House, Belconnen.

John Struik, ABS
Geoff Armitage ABARE
Will Blythe, ABCI
Shannon Kelson, BRS
Cynthia Magpantay, BRS
Jenifer Rahmoy, CGC
Ian McDermid, Customs
Lalith Daluwatta, Customs
Darren Benham, DCITA
Bob McCombe, ABS/DEWR
John Cauchi, DVA
Habte Tesfaghiorghis, FaCS
Paul Nelson, Health
Peter Thomson, HIC
Peter Richards, DIMIA
Mark Lound, DIMIA
Carmel Hackett, AGs
Carol Kee, ABS/Health
Mary Patton, ABS/DITR
Andrew Webster, ABS/ATSIC
Geoff Neideck, ABS/FaCS
Jeff Carlton, ABS
Mark Patton, ABS
Rob Martyn, ABS

Graeme Oakley, ABS
Neil Batty, DFAT
Sue Begley, DFAT
Michael Smart, ATO
Mark Allenby, Health
David Ward, DIMIA
Jo Jardine, AGs
Graeme Brown, ABS/ATO
John Cauchi, DVA
Sally Goodspeed, ABS/Health


Update on 2001 Census processing, data quality and release intentions - John Struik, Asst Statistician, Census, Demography & Geography Branch.

John started by summarising the main points of his talk to the Network meeting on 1 August 2001: the new topics for, and exclusions from, the 2001 Census, and the criterion for inclusion; the four phases of Census activity (planning, field, processing & output) and the changes made to the field and processing phases in particular for 2001 to improve the accuracy and timeliness of results.

John then reported on how the 2001 Census has progressed since August:

Field phase: Overall, it was a success - the post-enumeration survey confirms this. Evaluation of the 2001 changes is underway, to feed into planning for 2006. Some comments / issues: the publicity campaign achieved a higher awareness in the community than was achieved for the '96 Census; there were very few contentious issues or complaints relating to privacy; the major flack related to the exclusion of unpaid work questions. Some problem areas: difficulty in reaching inhabitants of high density secure urban dwellings; also in reaching those who work long hours or whose lifestyle keeps them away from their dwelling for most of the day - it is expected that the use of electronic forms, Internet and some selective mail-backs will help resolve these problems in 2006.

Processing: Scanning images of the forms has been very successful and has lead to significant savings compared to manual movement of forms; automatic coding has also been successful and has ensured higher quality, more consistent data. Processing is ahead of schedule and the launch date has recently been announced - it is a month earlier than last Census. Working papers on quality analysis will be released on the ABS web site more quickly than for '96. John gave examples of cases of imprecise responses given by people in filling out their forms and how these were dealt with during processing.

Output: First release [the variables which are easier to process] is 17 June, second release currently scheduled for November. The development of the various products is going well. There will be more free data availabler than in '96 and this will be largely disseminated via the ABS web site. The Time Capsule Project results will also be released on 17 June and microfiche is being delivered to the National Archives.

Planning: 2006 Census planning is already well underway, with user consultations to commence soon regarding questions to be included; a full Internet option will be available and a skirmish was conducted recently in the ACT to test a prototype Internet form; changes are expected to field processes.

John responded to questions covering matters such as the quality of income data; if reduced costs would result in cheaper Census products; how usual residents data was validated; the incidence of 'not stated' cells in tables; if there had been any problems with indigenous coverage; occupation coding at detailed levels; and the likelihood of disability questions for 2006.

Report on current and planned ABS dissemination capabilities
This agenda item had to be postponed until a later meeting, due to the absence of relevant ABS staff.

General business:
The draft 2002 Information Sheet and Terms of Reference were circulated at the meeting and briefly discussed. It was agreed that the views of the wider membership should be invited. Please see attached documents and return any comments to me before the next meeting.



Frank Wojtaszak, AusAID, has advised that he recently changed jobs and would no longer be attending Network meetings. Ian put a motion that Frank should be formally thanked in this record for the contribution he has made since the Network commenced and, most recently, on the Planning Committee - this was unanimously agreed. Ian added that there was now a vacancy on the Committee and Peter Richards, DIMIA, kindly volunteered his services. The Committee could accommodate another 1-2 members if anyone else is interested.

Ian reminded members that the Network is always looking out for relevant topics for future meetings and asked members to raise any matters they thought would be of interest.

Prior to the meeting Darren Benham, DCITA, had suggested the Network consider putting together a regular newsletter which, if it was considered an appropriate Network activity, could be used to advertise members' services. After some discussion, it was agreed that maintaining a regular Newsletter was too problematic. Advertising members' services was considered appropriate if approved by the Chair and subject to a reasonable limit per agency that would not constitute a burden on other members - it would help if such notices had a meaningful title so that members could elect not to read them if the subject is not relevant to them.

It was agreed that advertising jobs in stats / research / information areas in agencies was an appropriate activity of the Network [in fact it seems to be one of the reasons why the Network was established] and I will continue to forward routine ads by email - if not routine, the Chair is to approve first.

The issue of the privacy of member's names and contact details was raised. Such information is currently available on this site [an alternate way to access the Stats Network pages on this site: from the home page select News / Newsletters / APS Stats Network].

If you are concerned about your details being published, please let me know and those details will be suppressed.
Network emails now go out with members' names in the 'blind copy' address field to reduce the incidence of contact details being used without authority.

Before the meeting Peter Thomson, HIC, circulated a request to members to share with him their experiences with cell suppression, random rounding and random perturbation. Peter raised this matter at the meeting, explaining that his agency has to achieve an appropriate balance between privacy considerations and releasing fine level data. Geoff Neideck, ABS/FaCS, made the point that there are no generic solutions and that decisions have to be tailored to comply with the particular agency's legislation. It was agreed that this matter was worthy of key topic status at a future meeting - several possibilities were mentioned for speakers (e.g. areas involved in data matching work at ABS, AIHW and H&A). Geoff added that the AIHW web site has protocols for data matching.

Next Stats Network meeting: on or about 19 June, to be hosted by the Dept of Family & Community Services, Tuggeranong.

After the meeting a small group enjoyed a brief tour of ABS House.

Rob Martyn
Stats Network Co-ordinator

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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