1304.5 - Stats Talk WA (Newsletter), Mar 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/03/2008   
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2008 Year Book
100 Years of Australian History

Celebrating 100 Years
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Year Book Australia is truly a remarkable series. Reaching its hundredth year in 2008, the Year Book has shone a light on the whole nation, communicating information which benefits all Australians in all aspects of their lives.

Year Book Australia is the principal reference work produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It provides a comprehensive and detailed statistical overview of various aspects of the economy and social conditions in Australia. In addition, it contains descriptive matter dealing with Australia’s geography and climate, government, international relations, defence, education and health and welfare support systems.

This edition, the 90th, is the latest in a long series of editions extending back to the first in 1908. This edition boasts 28 feature articles including an article to commemorate the centenary year of Scouting, as well as articles on natural hazards, overcoming Indigenous disadvantage, irrigation on Australian farms and sustaining the mineral resources industry.

Australian Scouting is celebrating its centenary year in 2008. To commemorate this and to recognise the contribution that scouting has made, and will continue to make to the Australian community, the Australian Government has designated 2008 the Year of the Scout.

Scouting is the largest youth development organisation in Australia and the world, and is a leader in this country’s non-formal education sector.

The Scouting Program delivered by Scouts Australia, prepares young people aged from 6 to 26 years for business and community leadership. There are currently around 60,000 members in Australia - boys, girls, young men and women, and their leaders.

Natural Hazards
Natural hazards are a global phenomenon that can strike without warning throughout the world, and impact on every Australian state and territory.

Natural disasters have a significant economic, social, health, environmental and political impact on the community. While some of the impacts of natural disasters can be mitigated, the risk cannot be completely eliminated.

In Australia, natural hazards are estimated to cost an average of $1.14 billion annually but the cost of individual hazards can be much greater. For example, in 1989 an earthquake cost the community in the New South Wales city of Newcastle an estimated $4.5 billion.

Natural disasters have helped to shape Australia’s history. Notable examples include Cyclone Tracy (1974), Ash Wednesday (1983), the Thredbo landslide (1997), the Sydney hailstorm (1999) and the Canberra bushfires (2003).

Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage
At 30 June 2006, the Australian Bureau of Statistics preliminary Indigenous estimated resident population of Australia was 517,200 or 2.5% of the total population.

According to the 2007 Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report, Indigenous people experienced poorer outcomes than non-Indigenous people on virtually all the headline indicators, but there have been improvements in some areas.

In 2001, the life expectancy of Indigenous people was estimated to be around 17 years lower than that for the total Australian population. Rates of disability and chronic disease also reflect the well-being of Indigenous people. Indigenous adults living in non-remote areas in 2002 were twice as likely as non-Indigenous adults to report a disability resulting in a profound or severe core activity limitation.

Raising the living standards and social and economic outcomes of Indigenous Australians continues to be a high priority for the Australian Government.

The Australian Government’s long-term vision is that Indigenous Australians will have the same opportunities as other Australians to make informed choices about their lives, realise their full potential in whatever they choose to do and take responsibility for managing their own affairs.

Irrigation on Australian Farms
Australian agricultural production helps provide food and clothing for a nation of over 20 million people. In addition, Australia exports around 65% of its agricultural production to international markets.

Achieving such a level of production in the driest inhabited continent on Earth is no easy task. In 2004-05, 35,000 farms irrigated 2.4 million hectares to supplement natural rainfall and, in doing so, applied around 65% of all water used by the nation. The product of this activity was goods to the value of $9.1 billion, which was 23% of the total value of agricultural production in that year.

In January 2007, a ten-point plan was proposed by the Australian Government to improve national water efficiency. The proposal makes provision for investment in irrigation infrastructure, new engineering works, changed governance arrangements, and the creation of a taskforce to examine future land use in northern Australia.

In August 2007 the Water Act 2007 (Commonwealth) passed through both houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. This legislation makes provision for the fundamental aspects of the National Plan for Water Security to be implemented.

Sustaining the Mineral Resources Industry
Overall, mining activity accounts for around 8% of Australia’s gross domestic product and has contributed over $500 billion directly to Australia’s wealth during the past 20 years. There are around 320,000 Australians employed in the industry, either directly or indirectly in support industries. Many are in sparsely populated, remote and regional Australia.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of black coal, iron ore and gold. It also holds the status of being the leading producer of bauxite and alumina as well as the second largest producer of uranium, lead and zinc; the third largest producer of iron ore, nickel, manganese and gold; the fourth largest producer of black coal, silver and copper; and the fifth largest producer of aluminium.

For more information regarding the 2008 Year Book, please visit the ABS website or call the National Information Referral Service on
1300 135 070.