1001.0 - Annual Report - ABS Annual Report, 2003-04  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/10/2004   
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Contents >> Section 4 - ABS Outputs >> Chapter 7 - Population and Social Statistics Output - Review of Components

The remainder of this chapter reviews the activities and achievements of each component of the Population and Social Statistics program during 2003-04.


The census component develops and conducts the five-yearly Census of Population and Housing. The results, together with measures of the undercount, are used to revise population estimates for each of the states and territories, and to provide detailed statistics on the population and its housing within small geographic areas and for small groups within the population. These statistics are used for electoral purposes, for the distribution of government funds, and for a variety of planning, administration, policy and research activities of government, business and other users.

Achievements during the year included:

  • release, via the Remote Access Data Laboratory, of a confidentialised one per cent sample file of 2001 census records
  • release of Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia (cat. no. 2033.0.30.001) which is a series of indexes allowing areas to be ranked according to various socioeconomic factors
  • publication of Census of Population and Housing: Australia in Profile - A Regional Analysis (cat. no. 2032.0), which is a five-yearly issue presenting commentary and data on a number of key social indicators from the census with the focus on regional distribution and comparisons
  • publication of a series of analytical articles from the 2001 census as part of the Australian Census Analytic Program: Counting the Homeless (cat. no. 2050.0), Indigenous Australians in the Contemporary Labour Market (cat. no. 2052.0), Australians' Ancestries (cat. no. 2054.0), The Micro-Dynamics of Change in Australian Agriculture: 1976-2001 (cat. no. 2055.0) and Australia Online: How Australians are Using Computers and the Internet (cat. no. 2056.0)
  • completion of the evaluation program on the quality of 2001 census data
  • completion of community consultation on the proposed topics for inclusion in the 2006 census
  • development and testing of the census field systems which incorporate the return of census forms by the Internet
  • development and testing of communications solutions for census field staff
  • acquisition of the site for processing of the 2006 census
  • commencement of development of the output strategy for the 2006 census.


The demography component produces estimates of the population by age, sex, country of birth, Indigenous status, registered marital status and geographical distribution, and estimates of families and households. Projections of the population, families and households, according to specified demographic assumptions, are published on a regular basis and produced for individual clients. Statistics are also regularly produced on births, deaths, marriages, divorces, overseas arrivals and departures, and internal migration.

Achievements during the year included:

  • development of a range of activities to mark the occasion of Australia's population reaching 20 million on 4 December 2003
  • release of Population Projections, Australia, 2002-2101 (cat. no. 3222.0) using results from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing and updated growth assumptions following expert and user consultations
  • release of Household and Family Projections, Australia, 2001-2026 (cat. no. 3236.0) using the results from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing
  • conduct of the first annual Population Estimates Technical Workshop with representatives of each state and territory government to explain and discuss methodological issues with the compilation of population estimates for use under the A New Tax System (Commonwealth-State Financial Relations) Act 1999
  • preparation of submissions, extensive explanations and background information for the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters Inquiry into Territory Representation in the House of Representatives and subsequent reformatting of Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) consistent with provisions legislated under the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Representation in the House of Representatives) Act 2004
  • completion of investigation work into an improved methodology for compiling experimental estimates of Indigenous mortality to be used in the compilation of Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001-2009 (cat. no. 3238.0)
  • development and implementation of new methodology for estimating net overseas migration accounting for changes in international travellers' actual travel behaviour from stated intentions
  • 2001 census re-calibration of Medicare change of address model to estimate quarterly net interstate migration statistics.

Labour and Education Statistics

The labour and education statistics component provides information on the composition and characteristics of the labour force; operations of the labour market; earnings, labour costs and other conditions of employment; and educational attainment and participation.

A senior officer is outposted to the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR), in recognition of their needs for labour market and education statistics and the importance of facilitating their access to, and understanding of, these statistics.

Labour market information

Labour force statistics are collected in a monthly survey of households. These statistics provide timely estimates of employment and unemployment, together with basic demographic data, enabling various characteristics of the employed and unemployed to be analysed. In addition, supplementary surveys are run in conjunction with the Labour Force Survey to collect more detailed data on specific labour market issues.

Topics covered by supplementary surveys in 2003-04 included job search experience, employee earnings, employee benefits, trade union membership, underemployment, persons not in the labour force, working arrangements, and labour mobility.

The component also produces: quarterly statistics on industrial disputes, average weekly earnings, job vacancies, and public sector employment and earnings; biennial statistics on the distribution and composition of employee earnings, hours, and methods of setting pay; and periodic statistics on employers' labour costs.

Achievements during the year included:

  • publication of feature articles in Australian Labour Market Statistics (cat. no. 6105.0) including: experimental volume measures of labour underutilisation; a cohort analysis of unemployment and participation; analysis of labour market transitions of teenagers; analysis of job search experience; and trade union membership
  • publication of statistics on the major labour costs of employers in Labour Costs, Australia, 2002-03 (cat. no. 6348.0.55.001)
  • five-yearly revision of Labour Force Survey estimates using updated population benchmarks based on population estimates and projections from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing
  • release of Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics (cat. no. 6292.0) detailing improvements to Labour Force Survey estimates through better alignment with international standards, introduction of regional population benchmarks, and improvements to seasonal adjustment processes
  • progressive implementation of computer assisted interviewing into the monthly Labour Force Survey.

National Centre for Education and Training Statistics

Statistics on schools, school students and staff are compiled by the ABS from collections conducted in cooperation with the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. For government schools, the data are collected initially by state and territory education departments, and for non-government schools the data are initially collected by DEST. Statistics on educational attainment, participation in education and training, and transition from education to work are produced from regular household surveys and from the population census.

The Centre also has a major role in statistical leadership and coordination across all sectors of education and training, and is represented on each sector's peak statistical committee.

Achievements during the year included:

  • agreement with the Australian government, and state and territory education and training departments, for joint funding of the National Education and Training Statistics Unit for 2003-04 to 2005-06
  • agreement with DEST and DEWR on the conduct of a jointly funded Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey in 2006 as part of an international round of surveys being coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
  • development of a Dictionary of Standards for Education and Training Statistics which is a joint initiative of DEST, the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA), all state and territory education and training departments, and the ABS
  • endorsement, by the Australian Education Systems Officials' Committee and ANTA Chief Executive Officers, of an Information Development Plan for education and training statistics.

Social Conditions Statistics

The social conditions statistics component provides information about aspects of the social wellbeing of Australia's population, within a framework of areas of social concern and population groups at risk of disadvantage. This includes statistics relating to the housing, economic and general social wellbeing of the population as well as for subgroups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, children with jobless parents and social security beneficiaries.

The component produces statistics from a range of social surveys in the areas of housing, income, superannuation and household expenditure. Reports are also produced, in particular Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0), which draw widely on ABS and other data, to address a range of contemporary social issues and to monitor changes in Australian social conditions over time.

Achievements during the year included:

  • publication of General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2002 (cat. no. 4159.0), which provides a profile of the socioeconomic characteristics of Australia's adult population and presents data on a range of social dimensions of the Australian community, including aspects of social attachment
  • conduct, in respect of 2003-04, of the six-yearly Household Income and Expenditure Survey. The redeveloped survey collected some new information on assets and liabilities to improve both the quality of the income information collected in the survey and to enable analysis of the household distribution of wealth
  • publication of Housing Occupancy and Costs, Australia, 2000-01 (cat. no. 4130.0.55.001), a web-based release which provided information on housing costs (rates, mortgage and rent payments) and relates these to characteristics of occupants and dwellings such as tenure, household composition, dwelling structure, age, income and principal source of income. The publication also includes estimates of the value of dwelling for capital cities, and information on recent home buyers.

National Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics

The National Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics has responsibility for national leadership in the coordination, production and dissemination of statistics about Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. The Centre works closely with other areas of the ABS and with a wide range of external agencies to provide expertise on these statistics and advice on related statistical issues. It coordinates initiatives to improve the quality, use and availability of Indigenous data from a range of sources and assists Indigenous organisations to improve their capacity to use statistics effectively.

Achievements during the year included:

  • publication of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2002 (NATSISS) (cat. no. 4714.0), presenting results from the first such survey since the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey (NATSIS). The NATSISS surveyed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians 15 years and older including those living in discrete Indigenous communities in remote areas of Australia. The NATSISS had significant content overlap with the 1994 NATSIS so that comparisons in the circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians can be analysed over time. The content also overlapped with the 2002 General Social Survey to allow comparisons between the personal and social circumstances of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
  • publication of Population Characteristics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 (cat. no. 4713.0), presenting a range of statistics for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population regarding its structure and distribution; language, religious affiliation and ancestry; education and information technology use; work; income; housing and transport; and household composition. Statistics are provided for Australia, the states and territories, and by remoteness areas to allow for analysis of the potential impact of geographical isolation on social and economic outcomes
  • publication of the fourth edition of The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2003 (cat. no. 4704.0), produced jointly with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), and which provides a unique overview of the health and welfare of Australia's Indigenous population. The report draws on the extensive surveys and censuses conducted by the ABS and the range of data held by AIHW which together cover population statistics, housing and infrastructure, community services and housing assistance, health status, death and sickness, and the availability, resourcing and use of services.

Health and Community Statistics

This component is responsible for social analysis related to health and community subject fields, and for providing information on health, family and the community. It is also responsible for developing and promoting standard statistical concepts, definitions and classifications in these areas. The component produces reports describing aspects of social conditions in Australia and the social wellbeing of the population and statistics on health (including causes of death, health status and risk factors, use of health services by the population, and statistics about private health establishments), family and community welfare and wellbeing (including statistics about disability, ageing and carers, voluntary work, child care and time use) and population groups such as persons with a disability, aged persons, families, women and children.

Achievements during the year included:

  • extensive consultation with the Department of Health and Ageing, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, and other major users of health survey data, regarding the development of the content and methodology for the 2004-05 National Health Survey
  • a significant contribution to improving dissemination and understanding of national health surveys and health statistics through the release of several web-based publications and articles: Breastfeeding in Australia, Electronic delivery (cat. no. 4810.0.55.001); National Health Survey: Private Health Insurance, Australia (cat. no. 4815.0.55.001); Health Risk Factors, Australia (cat. no. 4812.0); National Health Survey: Injuries, Australia (cat. no. 4384.0); National Health Survey: Mental Health, Australia (cat. no. 4811.0); Asthma in Australia: A Snapshot (cat. no. 4819.0.55.001); Diabetes in Australia: A Snapshot (cat. no. 4820.0.55.001); and, Cardiovascular Disease in Australia: A Snapshot (cat. no. 4821.0.55.001)
  • a similar contribution to mortality analysis in Australia through the release of the following publications: Drug-induced Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3321.0.55.001); Multiple Cause of Death Analysis (cat. no. 3319.0.55.001); Suicides: Recent Trends, Australia (cat. no. 3309.0.55.001); and, Deaths From External Causes, Australia (cat. no. 3320.0)
  • release of Information Paper: Measuring Social Capital - An Australian Framework and Indicators (cat. no. 1378.0)
  • successful enumeration of the 2003 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, and the release of preliminary data in Disability, Australia (cat. no. 4446.0)
  • successful development and testing of questions designed to identify people in need of assistance due to a severe/profound disability, for possible inclusion in the 2006 census
  • contribution to international work in the development of disability statistics through assisting the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in the provision of training on issues relating to the collection of disability statistics for countries in the Asia/Pacific region, and participation in various international forums involved in the development of international standards for the measurement of disability
  • completion of the content specification phase associated with the development of the 2005 Personal Safety Survey and the 2006 Time Use Survey which involved reviewing previous surveys and ascertaining emerging needs in consultation with key users.

National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics

The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics is responsible for leadership of national statistical activity relating to crime and justice, including crime victimisation surveys. It produces national statistics and analyses about crime and justice, including reported and unreported crime, criminal court processes and resulting sentences including custodial and community-based orders. It coordinates data collection activities within the ABS, and across other public agencies relating to this field, and provides a statistical service which includes provision of statistical information, training of data providers, advice on statistical standards and development of quality control procedures.

Achievements during the year included:

  • completion of the first draft of the national Information Development Plan (IDP) for crime and justice which identifies key crime and justice issues, the data sources available to address those issues, and suggested strategies to address data gaps and deficiencies
  • release of Information Paper: Sexual Assault Information Development Framework (cat. no. 4518.0)
  • the release of Information Paper: Measuring Crime Victimisation, Australia: The Impact of Different Collection Methodologies (cat. no. 4522.0.55.001) which discusses the different levels of crime reported via various collection methodologies and the reasons for those differences.

National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics

The National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics has responsibility for the coordination of national statistical activity in the fields of culture and recreation. It provides expertise within the ABS regarding the collection and analysis of data related to culture and recreation, as well as informing external users about culture and recreation statistics, relevant classifications and standards, and appropriate data analysis.

In addition to regular publications and reports, and a range of consultancy projects, other achievements during the year included:

  • release of an updated compendium of sport and recreation statistics - Sport and Recreation: A Statistical Overview, Australia, 2003 (cat. no. 4156.0), with work on a similar compendium of cultural statistics in progress
  • release of three publications on culture and recreation data collected in the General Social Survey: Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events, Australia, 2002 (cat. no. 4114.0); Sport Attendance, Australia, 2002 (cat. no. 4174.0); and Participation in Sport and Physical Activities, Australia, 2002 (cat. no. 4177.0)
  • seminars undertaken in all capital cities around Australia to promote awareness and use of cultural statistics, as well as to assess data needs
  • release of a report providing detailed information from past Household Expenditure Surveys: Household Expenditure on Sports, Physical Recreation and Other Leisure, 1998-99, as a companion to the earlier report, Household Expenditure on Culture, released in 2002
  • preparation of a paper assessing the feasibility for establishing a Sport and Recreation Satellite Account
  • publication of Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2003 (cat. no. 4901.0).

National Ageing Statistics Unit

The National Ageing Statistics Unit was established in July 2002 to provide statistical support for policy development and research related to ageing and aged persons. The unit aims to improve the understanding of ageing trends and current issues through the production of analytical reports, as well as undertaking a leadership role in the development of statistics on ageing and related concepts and definitions.

Achievements during the year included:

  • release of a report on characteristics of the ageing population based on 2001 census data: Census of Population and Housing: Ageing in Australia (cat. no. 2048.0)
  • ongoing development of an IDP for ageing statistics. The IDP will identify key ageing issues, data sources and suggested strategies to address data gaps and deficiencies
  • development of standards, definitions and terminologies relevant to ageing
  • the production of a regular newsletter and web site theme page on ageing issues.

National Children and Youth Statistics Unit

The ABS National Children and Youth Statistics Unit (NCYSU) was created in July 2003 in response to the need for a statistical evidence base to support policy development and research related to children and youth. The primary goal of the NCYSU is to improve the body of statistics that relate to children and young people in Australia. In pursuit of this goal, the NCYSU has a leadership and coordination role in the field of children and youth statistics, which includes supporting relevant and important survey development and reporting initiatives within and outside the ABS.

Achievements during the year included:

  • commencement of the development of an IDP for children and youth statistics. The IDP will highlight the priority data demands in this field of statistics, the associated supply of data, and the key data gaps and deficiencies. In turn, this will shape the direction of statistical development activities for children and youth statistics
  • establishment of an advisory group on children and youth statistics to provide advice about key information requirements in the field of children and youth
  • release of a thematic profile on youth in Australia, using data from the 2001 census - Census of Population and Housing: Australia's Youth (cat. no. 2059.0)
  • development of a newsletter and web site theme page on children and youth
  • improved accessibility to children and youth data sources, through enhancement of the Directory of Statistical Sources
  • involvement in a range of significant statistical development activities, including Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth initiatives, the 'Growing Up in Australia' study, and the 'A Picture of Australia's Children' project.


The geography component is responsible for developing and maintaining geographic products and services for use by the ABS and its clients. Activities include the production of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification and associated products, provision of a geographic information system, geocoding, and mapping services to the ABS, and production of the Integrated Regional Data Base - an annual regional statistics CD-ROM product.

Achievements during the year included:

  • release, by Public Sector Mapping Agencies Australia Ltd, of the Geocoded National Address File. This is the culmination of several years' collaboration between the ABS and its strategic partners to facilitate the development of a comprehensive national file linking each street address to a mapped point
  • assessment of the quality of the Geocoded National Address File and its potential for statistical applications
  • development of the conceptual basis for Mesh Blocks, a new micro level of Australian statistical geography. The Information Paper - Mesh Blocks (cat. no. 1209.0) was also released. Following a public consultation process, Mesh Blocks will be implemented in 2006 census outputs and in other statistical outputs where appropriate
  • release of Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) - Electronic Publication (cat. no. 1216.0), 2003 edition, incorporating, for the first time, Northern Territory community government council areas
  • release of digital boundary files for the ASGC 2003 edition
  • quarterly releases of the National Localities Index, Australia (cat. no. 1252.0.55.001) on the ABS web site. This is the ABS statistical local area coding tool
  • release of the 2004 edition of Integrated Regional Data Base (IRDB), Australia (cat. no. 1353.0).

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