4147.4.55.001 - Culture and Recreation News, Apr 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/04/2001   
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NCCRS has begun work on developing an information model for culture and leisure statistics. The aims of this article are to briefly explain what an information model is and the benefits we hope to gain from developing a culture and leisure information model.

An information model will provide a broad 'map' of the key entities and relationships within the culture and leisure sector. There are several potential benefits that can be derived from the development of a culture and leisure information model.

An information model:

  • can indicate what information should be gathered on culture and leisure and how this information should be organised;
  • can be used to assess current statistical data collections and practices to reveal gaps and identify possible improvements;
  • can serve as a reference point to encourage the standardisation of data drawn from diverse sources; and
  • more generally, by establishing a formal representation of the sector, can support decision-making and improve coordination.

As a result, such a model will not only assist the ABS in its work in the area, but hopefully will prove to be a valuable resource to others in the sector as well.

Information modelling is a common business tool. It is used by businesses to manage their increasingly large and sophisticated information assets. Modelling, which is usually undertaken by IT developers, is seen by businesses as a way of adding value and facilitating decision-making. The technique is increasingly being applied to areas of public policy to achieve similar goals. In Australia, for example, health sector information models have been developed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and New South Wales Health. Models are also being developed by the ABS for crime and justice statistics and education and training statistics.

The basis of nearly all information models is an 'entity-relationship' diagram, which sets out 'entities' in boxes and links these boxes with lines that represent the relationships between the entities. The culture and leisure information model will chart the key entities within the culture and leisure sector (such as individuals, organisations, resources, inputs, transfers, products and events) and the relationships between these entities (such as participation, work, supply, consumption and investment).

Information modelling is usually applied to business, administrative and institutional processes, where entities and their relationships can be easily identified and modelled. Applying similar modelling techniques to an industrial-institutional complex such as the culture and leisure sector is a more daunting task. It is unlikely, therefore, that a culture and leisure information model will go to the level of detail of information models developed in other areas of policy, such as the health models. Modelling is, nevertheless, relevant even at very broad levels. By making explicit conceptions of culture and leisure that are too often left implicit, modelling exposes assumptions and preconceptions to debate and the rigours of testing.

The creation of a culture and leisure information model is a long-term project. Information models tend to be released as versions and are subjected to ongoing reassessment and updating. The objective of this project is to construct a first version of a culture and leisure information model. The NCCRS is currently at the early stages of the development process. Model requirements have been specified. A review of existing culture and leisure models has been undertaken, and these are being synthesised and adapted to meet requirements. Further, we are developing a plan for the dissemination of a draft model for comment to stakeholders and interested parties.