4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, March 2009 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/03/2009   
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  • Quality Declaration - Summary



Australian Social Trends (AST) is produced by the Social Analysis and Reporting Branch of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The staff producing the publication have considerable expertise in the compilation and use of statistics to analyse and report on trends. The design of AST has been guided by past and current ABS consultations.

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


AST includes indicators and commentary covering the following areas: population, family and community, health, education and training, work, economic resources, and housing. An additional chapter covers other areas of social concern or interest, such as culture and leisure, transport, crime and justice, and the environment.

AST draws on a wide range of data, sourced both from the ABS and other agencies, to present an overview of key social issues. For each area of concern, AST provides a set of national and state/territory indicators which describe how key aspects of wellbeing in that area have been changing over time and how circumstances differ among states/territories. AST also provides comparisons with other countries.


An annual edition of AST has been released since 1994. From 2009, AST will be produced quarterly with an annual compilation released in the September quarter of each year. The timing of the release of the national and state/territory indicator sets has been organised so that they contain the most recent data possible. Reference periods are given in the footnotes accompanying these table sets.


Within articles, data are generally presented at the national level. Both within articles and the indicators, data for states and territories as well as other geographic areas may also be included. These indicators will be less accurate than the national indicators (for the same populations) due to their smaller sample size. Relative standard errors (RSEs) are taken into account when developing articles and indicators. All data included in this publication have been assessed to ensure the data are appropriate for publication and analysis.

ABS survey data are, when applicable, accompanied by annotations indicating the relative accuracy of the statistics. Estimates with RSEs of 25% to 50% are noted and should be used with caution; estimates with relative standard errors of 50% or above are also marked and are generally considered too unreliable for general use. Other information relating to the accuracy or fitness for purpose of data (for both ABS and non-ABS data) can be found in the table footnotes/cell annotations. Information on each collection or source can be found on the agency website or within the original publication, which are, where possible, linked in the datacubes and in endnotes to AST articles.


Frameworks help provide coherence in statistical measurement, data analysis and analytical commentary. AST is based on the broad framework that the ABS uses to develop and organise its social statistics program, outlined in Measuring Wellbeing: Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics (ABS cat. no. 4160.0). The concept of wellbeing is central to the framework. This multifaceted concept recognises a range of fundamental human needs and aspirations, each of which can be linked to an area of social concern (e.g. health, work, education). AST is structured according to the framework's areas of concern.


AST aims to increase the accessibility of information on important social issues and so a key aspect of the publication is its readability. Information is presented in non-technical language. Statistics are organised to illustrate specific issues, and to highlight the meaning behind the data and the main patterns and exceptions. Each article aims to tell a story, moving from the general to the specific and using statistics to bring light to the issue.

To help you understand and interpret these statistics the product contains:
  • information on the data sources used in the articles and spreadsheets;
  • definitions for the key concepts used;
  • and information on classifications used (e.g. the Australian Standard Geographical Classification).

    For more detailed explanatory information regarding any of the statistics in this publication, users should consult the referenced publication, legislation or agency.


    Analysis and commentary within AST, indicators and data cubes are accessible through the ABS website. General inquiries about the content and interpretation of the statistics in this publication should be addressed to Linda Fardell on 02 6252 7187. For all other inquiries please contact the National Information Referral Service on 1300 375 070.