ABS population and social statistics are concerned with describing Australia's population, its size and distribution, and the social wellbeing of the population. Underlying the notion of social wellbeing is a range of fundamental human needs and aspirations, each of which can be linked to an area of social concern. These have been encapsulated as they have evolved over the years by the United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and others. Not surprisingly, governments have implicitly identified with this range of needs and aspirations and they have become the focus of social policy and program and service delivery, and are reflected in many of the structures of government.
The ABS framework for social statistics, as published in Measuring Wellbeing: Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics (cat. no. 4160.0), is built around a number of areas of social concern: health, family and community, housing and neighbourhood, education and training, work, income, crime and justice, culture-leisure and population. The population statistics framework also includes a second dimension which focuses on population groups which are of particular interest to the community and to governments, for reasons such as their special need or disadvantage. This dimension of the framework includes: older people, children, youth, families with children, long-term unemployed, lone parents, people with disabilities, carers, recipients of various government benefits, low income earners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and people whose language background is other than English.
The Population and Social Statistics program operates in response to the statistical needs of governments and the wider community, taking into account the public and private costs associated with collecting, processing and disseminating statistical information on population and social issues.
At the broad level, the activities undertaken within the Population and Social Statistics program include:
The work schedule of the Population and Social Statistics program is determined after extensive consultation with governments, businesses and community groups, and with the advice of the Australian Statistics Advisory Council. In determining the work program, account is taken of the needs of users, the benefit of statistics to decision makers and researchers, the load on providers, the availability of skilled resources to undertake the work, and the costs associated with the activities.
Individual components within the Population and Social Statistics program have close links with a wide range of government agencies providing data; users of statistical information; and with clients of the statistical coordination and consultancy services. The statistical activities of other agencies complement the activities of the Population and Social Statistics program, resulting in a comprehensive national statistical service.
The effectiveness and efficiency of the Population and Social Statistics program is enhanced by significant and wide ranging input from the corporate and statistical support areas. These inputs include methodological, technological, dissemination, human resource, and financial support.
Appendix 1 lists the components of the Population and Social Statistics program.