Priorities and activities
Priority 1 - Produce high quality statistics
The ABS collects and analyses a broad range of social, economic, business, population and environmental data and produces valuable statistics to inform Australia’s important decisions.
Economic, Industry, Location and Environmental Statistics
The ABS continues to release statistical products to meet the demands of government, businesses and society. This includes aiding the COVID-19 pandemic recovery and informing the national response to natural disasters such as fires and floods across Australia.
Australian Climate Service: in response to the Royal Commission into the 2019 bushfires, the ABS is partnering with the Bureau of Meteorology, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Geoscience Australia to bring together climate and natural hazard information. The ABS brings key social and economic data to the service, by providing detailed information on who is potentially exposed and how vulnerable they may be to natural hazards. This information provides a comprehensive picture of the vulnerability of locations to help prevent or prepare for natural hazards.
Agricultural Census: the ABS conducted the five-yearly Agricultural Census in 2021–22 to provide benchmark national, state and regional data to support research and decision making by governments and businesses. Statistics from the Agricultural Census were released in July 2022.
Themed (satellite) accounts: these accounts provide insights into non-standard industries and/or emerging areas of interest, not readily visible from ABS’ key economic and social outputs. Working in partnership with other agencies, the ABS can pull together data from a wide variety of sources to create focused information on a particular area of interest.
In 2022–23, the ABS will develop:
- Australian Defence Industry Account – working with the Department of Defence to measure the contribution of the defence industry to the Australian economy. The ABS is co-designing an innovative approach, making use of Defence’s own financial data, alongside other existing data sources, to produce estimates of direct gross domestic product (GDP), value added and employment.
- Tourism Satellite Account – in a partnership with Austrade spanning over 20 years, ABS produces estimates of tourism’s direct contribution to the economy including GDP, value added, employment and consumption by product and industry. Austrade uses ABS data to produce state-based tourism satellite accounts, and academics and consultants use the data to produce estimates for smaller geographic areas or events.
- Transport Economic Account – in conjunction with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts, this account estimates the total contribution of transport activity across the economy including GDP, value added and employment.
- Ocean Account – ABS is partnering with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water to develop Australia’s first national ocean ecosystem account for Australia’s marine industries.
Population, Labour and Social Statistics
The ABS population, labour and social statistics program produces information about Australia’s population, including size and composition and measures of social and economic wellbeing. The ABS continues to produce rapid and frequent information about the labour market using Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Single Touch Payroll (STP) data. The ABS will also continue to deliver statistics such as quarterly population estimates required by legislation.
Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study (IHMHS): the IHMHS will be the largest health study undertaken in Australian history. The IHMHS will provide the most complete picture of the country’s physical and mental health, providing insights into the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s mental health and wellbeing. The information collected by the ABS from a range of data sources, including Census, surveys, administrative and other non-survey data, will underpin the creation, delivery and evaluation of health policies and research over many years and will provide an evidence base to support Australians to live longer and healthier lives.
Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO): will be reviewed and updated to ensure ABS statistics, 2026 Census data in particular, reflect the contemporary Australian labour market. A coding tool, co-designed with and for use by, other Australian Government agencies will also be delivered to support use of the updated classifications in datasets held across governments. The ABS is also participating in international work to update the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC) to ensure it continues to reflect modern economic activity.
Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers: presents key information about disability prevalence in Australia as well as data about older Australians (aged 65 years and over). The survey will also collect information about people with disability who reported they had experienced discrimination.
Estimated Resident Population: update of the series to reflect a new base population provided by the 2021 Census. Estimates of Indigenous and regional populations will be released during 2022–23.
2021 and 2026 Census of Population and Housing
Every five years the ABS gains rich insights into how Australians live through the Population Census. This interaction with every household in the country creates a detailed and comprehensive dataset to help inform decisions shaping communities and regions. Data from the Census is used directly and is also a key input to other ABS statistics and integrated data assets.
The first release of 2021 Census data in June 2022 delivered a contemporary picture of Australians living through a global pandemic and recovering from natural disasters. There is considerable interest in the changing age distribution and cultural backgrounds of the population, household income and ownership and mortgage/rent payments. For the first time, the latest Census collected data on former and current military service and long-term health conditions. Census data on some topics, such as employment, internal migration, travel to work and homelessness, will be available in late 2022 and early 2023.
The ABS has commenced planning for the next Census in 2026.
Priority 2 - Generate timely new insights
The ABS uses a range of survey and non-survey data to create insights into aspects of our nation. Key clients and users of ABS data and statistics are engaged to ensure innovative statistical products are relevant and valued. The ABS continues to build relationships with all levels of Australian government, academia, business and the not-for-profit sector. Through these collaborative efforts, the ABS can provide statistical information for governments to assess the effectiveness of economic, social and environmental policies and present insights to inform ongoing development.
Data integration projects
The ABS is continuing to explore new data sources to address emerging information needs, augment existing products and validate existing methodologies. This work will continue to inform social, environmental, economic, health and other policy issues.
The ABS is responsible for linking data from a range of sources, providing access to authorised users via secure ABS systems and safeguarding the data.
In partnership with other agencies, the ABS supports the analysis of integrated data including through two key integrated longitudinal data assets:
- Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (BLADE) integrates ABS business survey data, business taxation data from the ATO and other administrative data sources. BLADE includes data for businesses active in the Australian economy at any time from 2001–02 to the current financial year. Over the past few years, the data available in BLADE has been updated more often and new datasets added.
- The Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP) contains high-value, people-centred and regularly updated datasets aimed at providing comprehensive coverage of the Australian population. It is a secure data asset combining a broad range of information on health, education, government payments, income, taxation, employment and population demographics, and can be used to answer complex social and economic policy questions. The data is provided by a range of departments and agencies including the ATO, Department of Education, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Department of Social Services, Department of Health and Aged Care, and Department of Home Affairs.
For 2022–23, approved ABS and collaborative projects supported through BLADE and MADIP include:
- Adapting projects established to inform early responses to COVID-19 to provide insights into ongoing effects on the community and economy.
- Linking the Australian Immunisation Register dataset and deaths data to MADIP to generate insights for the Australian COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy. This project enables timely analysis of vaccine uptake and health outcomes across socio-demographic cohorts and geographic areas.
- Providing information on mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic, including information about COVID-19 deaths, demographic details, comorbidities and consequences of the disease.
- Monitoring the labour market and the Australian economy during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Labour Market Tracker Project, where job-related data, including ATO’s STP data, is integrated with MADIP and BLADE.
- Contributing to an evidence base to support cross-agency analysis of vulnerability and resilience of people and businesses in natural disasters, supporting the National Emergency Management, Resilience and Recovery Agency.
- Integrating MADIP data and other jurisdictional education data to measure youth pathways, post-school destinations and participation in tertiary education and employment.
- Building knowledge of the specialist homelessness services workforce in Victoria. The data and insights will support decision making to strengthen and grow the workforce and set recruitment and retention goals towards a more diverse, sustainable and suitably qualified workforce.
- Enhancing MADIP by creating new and more valuable datasets by combining 2021 Census data with data from other sources.
- Enhancing BLADE with new data sources to ensure it remains relevant and contemporary.
Crime and justice: a pilot to assess the feasibility of linking crime and justice data with other social datasets. The project aims to develop a comprehensive data asset which would enable reporting on topics such as family, domestic and sexual violence, providing a more complete picture and greater insights into the life outcomes of perpetrators of crime.
Justice Spine: a longitudinal national data asset linking police recorded criminal offenders in Australia’s criminal courts with adult prisoners in the corrective services systems. The dataset will show how people move and interact within and across the justice system nationally, something currently not possible. The dataset can potentially link with other Commonwealth, state and territory held datasets for deeper analysis of criminal offenders. The dataset will be available to approved policy makers and researchers in 2023 and will provide insights into patterns of offending and recidivism.
National Disability Data Asset (NDDA): is under development and will add a new enduring national asset comprising a collection of linked, de-identified data from across multiple Commonwealth, state and territory service systems on people with disability and their pathways through services. The NDDA will be enabled by the development of a new data integration infrastructure, known as the Australian National Data Integration Infrastructure (ANDII). The ABS, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, and Department of Social Services are leading the development of ANDII and NDDA in collaboration with the Commonwealth, states and territories and the disability sector.
Vocational Education and Training (VET) National Data Asset: will provide insights about outcomes for students who participate in VET courses through integration of VET data with MADIP and BLADE, into the VET National Data Asset. These insights include whether graduates from the VET sector gain employment or do further study and how participating in VET affects their future income or their need for government assistance.
The ABS is using non-survey data to deliver more timely indicators of the Australian economy, society and environment, including:
- Payroll jobs and wages estimates, sourced from the ATO’s Single Touch Payroll (STP) data. The ATO receives payroll information from employers with STP enabled payroll and accounting software each time the employer runs its payroll. The ATO provides employer and job level data items on 10 million employees from the STP system to the ABS to produce the Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia publication.
- More frequent and more geographically detailed information to help better understand regional labour markets by combining existing survey data (like monthly Labour Force) with existing datasets including the ATO’s STP data.
- A set of monthly economic indicators: business turnover (using monthly Business Activity Statement data), household spending (using bank transactions data), and earnings of employees (using the ATO’s STP data).
- A monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) indicator to complement the quarterly CPI. Each month, this indicator will update approximately 70 percent of the prices in the CPI basket of goods and services.
- New quarterly estimates of dwelling stock for much smaller geographic areas than currently available to inform housing and homelessness policy. This new series will provide insights into how housing supply responds to economic developments including changes in house prices, rent and population growth. The ABS is also exploring the development of new indicators of land and housing supply using local government zoning and land use information.
- A new gender indicators series will be a single source of ABS data, informing initiatives to improve women’s workforce participation, advance workplace equality and strengthen women’s economic security.
- Data and expertise as part of a cross-Government collaboration on supply chain resilience to assist in developing targeted and proportionate responses to disruption risk in supply chains of priority commodities.
- Assistance to the Climate Change Authority on a framework for measuring the transition to a low emissions economy. The ABS will support the Authority to undertake a climate risk assessment and identify relevant data sources.
The ABS is also investigating the production of new real-time data on the characteristics of Australian businesses and their owners and the performance and dynamism of businesses, by bringing together Australian Business Register data and new data sources (such as the ATO’s STP). Businesses are experiencing the effects of disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters in different ways across sectors, types of businesses and regions. These data would improve understanding of how the economy is evolving, including its response to economic shocks and natural disasters.
Priority 3 - Exercise leadership in the data landscape
The ABS is leading the APS Data Professional Stream, aimed at strengthening data capability across the APS. The ABS, along with 25 other agencies, is progressing the initial two-year work program for the Data Professional Stream, including the training of specialised data graduates and improving data skills and literacy more broadly across the APS workforce.
The Australian Statistician is also a member of the National Data Advisory Council, established under the Data Availability and Transparency Act 2022. In this capacity, he advises the National Data Commissioner on using and sharing public sector data including on ethical data use, balancing data availability with privacy protection, trust and transparency, technical best practice, industry and international developments and community expectations.
The ABS also looks after some of the nation’s most important and influential data. Users expect the ABS to continually improve access to its products and services.
The ABS is leading the whole of APS uplift in data capabilities. The Australian Statistician is the Head of the Data Profession, working closely with the Australian Public Service Commission and Head of the Digital Profession.
The ABS will support the delivery of the following activities to develop workforce capability:
- Developing a Data Capability Framework and capability assessment tool to use across the APS. This will assist individuals and managers to identify areas for technical development, support career planning discussions and assist agencies to benchmark workforce capability and identify skills gaps.
- Developing and rolling out data literacy learning pathways to help ensure all APS employees have foundational data skills.
- Building development-focused opportunities for people in data roles.
Improve access to ABS statistics
The ABS is committed to continuing to improve access to its statistics and data, while maintaining privacy and ensuring confidentiality of the data.
ABS portals and platforms: users access statistics through a range of self-serve portals and platforms; including the ABS website, DataLab, TableBuilder and customised data requests. Users of ABS statistics can access data freely on the ABS website or by configuring their systems to an application programming interface (API). Machine-to-machine access provides a fast avenue for regular users to import data into their systems. Advanced analysis and complex research are enabled through access to microdata products in the ABS DataLab. This service is cost recovered from users undertaking approved projects.
Social media platforms: the ABS uses social media platforms to engage with the Australian public. The ABS will release a range of snapshots and infographics on its social media platforms, providing notice of key upcoming releases and highlighting topical statistics.
Improved access for cultural groups and organisations: the ABS is committed to the return of information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations, delivering data in formats both useful and culturally appropriate.
Priority 4 - Reduce burden on data providers
The ABS is committed to collecting information in the most efficient way possible and reducing the burden on those providing data used to create ABS products and services.
Increasing the use of non-survey data as a preferred source
The ABS is increasing its use of non-survey data, including data collected by governments and businesses, to reduce the need to conduct surveys. The ABS will continue to progress the following projects to explore how this data might be used to deliver more timely indicators with greater geographic and industry detail:
- Produce new monthly indicators: produce the Monthly Business Turnover Indicator, Monthly Household Spending Indicator and Monthly Earnings Indicator to inform economic policy, through the Big Data Timely Insights (BDTI) project.
- Modernising Agricultural Statistics Program: reduce the agricultural surveys program where alternative data sources are available, commencing with the cessation of the Agricultural Census and the Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales Survey; and continue to pursue opportunities to use existing and emerging alternative data and new statistical methods to support further consolidation of the program, such as the re-use for statistical purposes of the Levy Payer Registers data collected by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
- Re-imagining Household Expenditure: replace the two-yearly Survey of Income and Housing, and six-yearly Household Expenditure Survey with a combination of survey and non-survey data from the private and public sectors, collecting survey data via web/mobile collection methods where possible.
Reduce burden for small and medium sized businesses
Accounting software project: the ABS is working with businesses, accountants, bookkeepers and accounting software companies to co-design a new reporting application providing links with software businesses are already using. This means businesses can report their data more quickly and easily using existing business reporting systems, with the ABS estimating a 70% reduction in survey completion time for small and medium businesses. Businesses will be able to report more quickly to the Quarterly Business Indicators Survey (QBIS), Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) and the Economic Activity Survey (EAS).
Priority 5 - Enhance organisational capability, resilience and adaptability
The ABS strives to be an effective, efficient and flexible agency cooperating across Government. The ABS is committed to creating a collaborative, accountable, agile innovative and customer-focused agency.
Over the last two years, through natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic, our workforce has demonstrated exceptional levels of adaptability and responsiveness. The ABS shifted its work program and operations to deliver new surveys and near real-time insights, delivered a successful 2021 Census and continued to release the core statistical outputs.
The ABS will continue to deliver on its Enterprise Strategy, setting out its future vision for how it manages data, works collaboratively with clients, grows and develops its workforce, modernises its technology and continues to build its leadership capability.
Workforce capability: the ABS is strengthening staff capability to ensure we remain a highly professional, statistically expert and data capable workforce that continues to adapt to meet the changing information needs of governments, businesses and the community.
Data capability: the ABS will continue to grow its capability in cloud technologies and contemporary data tools and frameworks. The new cloud-based capabilities, along with re-engineering of some surveys, will enable a more resilient processing environment and improve its ability to blend survey and non-survey data.
Digital capability: the ABS is delivering platforms available to other agencies and clients including:
- establishing the Australian National Data Integration Infrastructure
- making the ABS DataLab available for secure data analysis by other agencies
- delivering a coding service enabling data holders to code their data to updated ABS classifications.
The ABS is taking advantage of mature cloud services to deliver scalable and secure solutions. Through the BDTI project, the ABS is developing cloud-based solutions to support the processing and analysis of both survey and non-survey data sources. The use of cloud technologies provides a more flexible and scalable environment for producing statistics and statistical insights.
Data sharing: the Data Availability and Transparency Act 2022 establishes a new best practice scheme for sharing Australian Government data. The scheme is focused on increasing the availability and use of Australian Government data to improve government service delivery, inform better government policies and programs and support world leading research and development. As an Accredited Integrated Authority, the ABS will transition under the scheme to become an Accredited Data Service Provider (ADSP).