In 1999 the ABS undertook a significant expansion of its research and analysis capability by creating an Analysis Branch. Since then the Branch has delivered a number of significant outcomes. One of the most significant outcomes in 2001-02 was the publication of Measuring Australia’s Progress (cat. no. 1370.0), which presented a compact set of indicators depicting economic, social and environmental aspects of national progress. The publication was launched at the 2002 Economic and Social Outlook Conference - Towards Opportunity and Prosperity - and has been well received by the majority of users. Other important research work conducted by the Analysis Branch during 2001-02 included the development of experimental estimates of the value of human capital in Australia which looks at expressing the economic value of individuals’ human capital as the present-day value of the lifetime income streams that they can earn by applying their knowledge and skills. The other major research work undertaken has been the development of estimates of the distribution of household assets and liabilities by stage of household lifecycle.
During 2001-02 experimental volume estimates of Australia’s National Balance Sheets were published in Australian System of National Accounts (cat. no. 5204.0). Additionally, feature articles were published in Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (cat. no. 5206.0) detailing improved methods adopted by the ABS in respect of productivity statistics, and the introduction of new Real Net National Disposal Income and Real Gross State Domestic Income measures.
A significant initiative in International and Financial Accounts statistics in 2001-02 was the development of a survey of the services provided abroad by the foreign branches and subsidiaries of Australian businesses, which will be conducted triennially from 2002-03. A review of the statistical codes for exports and imports reflecting changes in the Harmonized Commodity Coding and Description System was completed in 2001-02. The new codes were implemented by the Australian Customs Service from 1 January 2002. A description of these changes was presented in a feature article published in International Merchandise Trade, Australia (cat. no. 5422.0). Another feature article analysing Australia’s export markets between 1991-92 and 2000-01 was also published in this publication. Additionally, a feature article on Measuring Australia’s Foreign Currency Exposure was published in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0).
During the year the ABS has extensively reviewed its business statistics arrangements. Flowing from that review will be the implementation of the Business Statistics Innovation Program (BSIP) from July 2002. The purpose of BSIP is to re-engineer the ABS’s business statistics processes through the use of innovative technologies and methodologies, so as to improve the quality and relevance of our business statistics in a manner that is most efficient for both the ABS and its providers. Outcomes of BSIP will include: improved data quality; improved provider relations; improved reporting mechanisms; reduced provider load; more effective use of tax data for statistical purposes; increased capacity to respond to emerging statistical demands; stronger statistical leadership to provide a better national statistical service; significant operating efficiencies so that we can expand the statistical service and sustain competitive pay and conditions for our staff; and enhanced opportunities for staff. BSIP will help position the ABS, in regard to its business statistics program, for the foreseeable future.
The ABS contributed to the development of an International Monetary Fund publication A Manual on Government Finance Statistics, released in December 2001, aimed at improving the measurement and international comparability of accruals-based government finances.
A major review of prices statistics was undertaken by the ABS in 2001-02 focusing on improving the efficiency of operations. The review also recommended that work should continue on developing spatial comparisons within Australia, initially for the capital cities based on data already collected for the Consumer Price Index. In July 2001 ten prices publications containing the quarterly producer price indexes were consolidated into two - one covering the price indexes for exports and imports, while the other contains all the remaining producer price indexes compiled by the ABS. A feature article presenting experimental seasonally adjusted estimates of the Wage Cost Index was published in Australian Economic Indicators (cat. no. 1350.0) in April 2002. These experimental estimates will be published in Wage Cost Index, Australia (cat. no. 6345.0) from the June quarter 2002 onwards. The ABS presented a paper to the G-20 Workshop hosted by the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Department of Treasury in May 2002. The paper set out the statistical issues underlying international comparisons of poverty and global income inequality.
During 2001-02 the ABS released a new publication Business Indicators, Australia (cat. no. 5676.0), which replaced three existing publications and presented a more comprehensive and coherent picture of business activity with consolidated estimates of company profits, sales, inventories and wages and salaries.
Estimates from the inaugural Business Generosity Survey, run in conjunction with the 2000-01 Economic Activity Survey, were published in Generosity of Australian Business, 2000-01 (cat. no. 8157.0) and provided information on business giving - not just in monetary terms, but also the giving of goods and services.
The ABS continued its focus on expanding the amount of information available in respect of the information technology sector. In particular, during 2001-02 the ABS made significant contributions to the development by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) of statistical standards for science and technology indicators, particularly in relation to standards for research and development statistics and biotechnology statistics, electronic commerce, and measuring household and business use of information technology. Work on a draft framework for measuring the Knowledge-based Economy and Society continued in 2001-02 with a discussion paper expected to be released in early 2002-03.
In response to ongoing demand for a broader range of environmental information, the ABS developed a Salinity and Land Management Survey whereby farmers were asked how salinity issues were affecting them, how they managed or prevented salinity, and the factors that influence land management decisions on farms. Additionally, an Environmental Management Survey for the manufacturing and mining sectors was conducted during 2001-02. That survey collected a range of information on environmental practices, including expenditure by businesses on environment management and protection.
Arrangements were finalised during 2001–02 allowing the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics to collect farm finance statistics on behalf of the ABS, reducing the total reporting load placed on farm businesses.
A new transport publication, entitled Freight Movements, Australia, Summary (cat. no. 9220.0), was released in March 2002. The publication presented estimates of freight movements by road, rail, sea and air in respect of the 12 months ending 31 March 2001. In February 2002 Sales of New Motor Vehicles, Australia (cat. no. 9314.0) was released for the first time. The publication, which is only available electronically, replaces New Motor Vehicle Registrations, Australia: Preliminary (cat. no. 9301.0), with data being sourced from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
Based on the 2001 Census of Population and Housing results, revised state, territory and national Estimated Resident Populations from 1996 to 2001 were published in Australian Demographic Statistics, December 2001 (cat. no. 3101.0).
A comprehensive range of labour underutilisation measures were released in Information Paper: Measures of Labour Underutilisation (cat. no. 6296.0). The new underutilisation measures include persons with a marginal attachment to the labour force, such as discouraged jobseekers, and those persons who work part-time but would prefer to work more hours and are available to do so. Another development in labour statistics was the release of a new publication in October 2001 entitled Work-Related Injuries, Australia (cat. no. 6324.0).
A major study undertaken by the ABS on behalf of the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs taskforce was completed during 2001-02. The study investigated the feasibility of including questions on school enrolment forms to enable information to be derived on socioeconomic and demographic characteristics.
A major outcome in social statistics in 2001–02 was the development of the publication Measuring Wellbeing: Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics (cat. no. 4160.0). The publication presented both an overall framework as well as various conceptual models used in each of the nine main areas of social concern that make up ABS social statistics. It has received wide acclaim internationally and is being adopted by many other countries.
Under a funding partnership with the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing the ABS conducted a National Health Survey (NHS) in respect of 2001. The survey sought information about the health status of Australians of all ages, focusing on the National Health Priority Areas of asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, mental health and injuries. An Indigenous supplement to the NHS will provide detailed and comparable information about the health of Indigenous people.
The ABS released two major classifications in 2001-02 on education, and culture and leisure. The Australian Standard Classification of Education, 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0) was developed for use in the collection, storage and dissemination of statistical and administrative data relating to educational activity undertaken in Australia. The classification reflects the needs of government agencies, private sector, and education and training organisations to describe the range of education and training offered in Australia. The other major development was Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications (cat. no. 4902.0), which consisted of an industry, product and occupation classification of the culture and leisure sectors. The development of the Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications was the first stage in the preparation of a wider framework for developing and managing culture and leisure data. Future plans include the development of an information model, an information plan, additional classifications and
a data directory.
The ninth edition of Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0) was released in June 2002. This publication, which provided a range of articles on a number of social issues, was concurrently released on the ABS web site.
During 2001-02 the ABS completed development and field collection for the first General Social Survey (GSS). The GSS surveyed people from 15,000 households across Australia using computer assisted personal interviewing techniques. It will provide information on the relationships between different aspects of people’s lives including measuring the extent of multiple disadvantage across a number of areas of social concern.
The ABS also completed in 2001-02 the design and development of the first Indigenous Social Survey (ISS) since the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey (NATSIS). The ISS will survey 12,000 Indigenous Australians, including those living in discrete Indigenous communities in remote areas of Australia, and will go into the field in August 2002. While there is significant overlap with the content included in the GSS, allowing comparisons between the personal and social circumstances of Indigenous and other Australians, the ISS will also collect a large amount of information in common with the 1994 NATSIS so that comparisons in the circumstances of Indigenous Australians can be analysed over time.