1301.6.55.001 - Tasmanian Statistical News, Dec 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2009   
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General statistical inquiries
Statistical training
Statistical literacy


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Our consultants are available to discuss your information needs, and assist you to obtain the data which will best meet your requirements.

A range of published data is available free of charge on our website and more detailed data can be tailored to your requirements as part of our priced information consultancy service. Contact our consultants who will discuss your needs in detail and provide you with an obligation free quote.

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To find out more about how we can customise data tailored to meet your needs check out our Information Consultancy Services brochure online.


Our training programs are conducted by ABS staff with expertise in designing questionnaires, analysing data and managing the survey process. The courses teach practical skills by involving participants in individual and group exercises. In addition, courses can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your organisation. We also hold regular seminars which may focus on statistical developments, publications, trends or issues.


Understanding Statistics

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has recently released the suite of 'Understanding Statistics' webpages on the ABS website. These webpages are available on the ABS home page, on the left hand navigation bar under Statistics. They provide a centralised portal on the ABS website where all information and resources (both existing and to be developed) that has a statistical literacy focus can be housed. There are some excellent resources contained within these pages, some are very basic, whilst others go in to more depth. There are quizzes, video tutorials and online presentations. A great resource for anyone wanting to know more about statistics and the ABS website.

Data Awareness

In today's information-rich society, we encounter statistical information on a daily basis, ranging from unemployment rates, retail figures and cancer rates, to football ladders and cricket scores. Statistics tell interesting stories and enable us to make sense of the world. Statistics are essential for research, planning and decision-making purposes.

There are several concepts that recur throughout the literature on statistical literacy. These fall into four key areas and can be considered in a practical manner as ‘criteria’ on which to base statistical literacy:
  • Data awareness
  • The ability to understand statistical concepts
  • The ability to analyse, interpret and evaluate statistical information
  • The ability to communicate statistical information and understandings

In this issue, we will focus on aspects of data awareness. Part of data awareness is to understand that data can be collected in different ways, each with respective advantages and disadvantages. There are three main forms of data collection:


The Census is an example of self-enumeration.
  • Advantages: People fill in their own forms and can complete them in their own time.
  • Disadvantages: This collection method may place limitations on the number and complexity of questions that can be asked.

Interview based surveys

An interviewer contacts the selected survey participant either in person or via telephone.
  • Advantages: This collection method generally results in high response rates. More questions and more complex questions can be asked.
  • Disadvantages: Introduces the risk of interviewer bias.

Administrative by-product

Data are available through administrative records generated from the administrative transactions carried out by government departments, agencies and businesses, such as birth and death statistics, and overseas arrivals and departures.
  • Advantages: Making use of this type of data helps to keep the number of surveys and censuses to a minimum, which in turn is more cost effective.
  • Disadvantages: The information has been collected for a specific purpose and is often restricted to a set of items which are administratively determined. Comparability problems may arise when comparing data from different sources.

In upcoming issues of Tasmanian Statistical News we will discuss other statistical literacy concepts in more detail. Meanwhile, if you would like to know more about statistical literacy and its relevance to you, check out the article: What is statistical literacy and why is it important to be statistically literate? as featured in Tasmanian State and Regional Indicators (ABS cat. no. 1307.6).