1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics -- Annual Report, 2007-08  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/12/2008   
   Page tools: Print Print Page RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Section V - Performance Information >> Chapter 15 - International engagement


As established in the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975, one of the ABS’ functions is ‘(providing) liaison between Australia and other countries and international organisations in relation to statistical matters’ (section 6(f)). During 2007–08, the ABS continued to meet its international responsibilities by:

  • active and high level involvement in the international statistical community, and

  • targeted and tailored technical assistance to national statistical agencies in the Asia-Pacific region.


    The ABS’ involvement in the international statistical community takes a number of forms, including:

  • participating in international meetings, including those that develop international statistical standards, frameworks and methodologies

  • visiting the statistical offices of other national statistical organisations and international intergovernmental organisations, and

  • hosting visits from staff of these organisations at the ABS.


    The ABS participated in a number of important international meetings and conferences in 2007–08, including:

  • 56th Session of the International Statistical Institute (ISI), held in Lisbon, Portugal
  • 39th Session of the United Nations Statistical Commission, held in New York, USA
  • ‘New Directions in Social Statistics’ seminar held at the United Nations, New York, USA
  • United Nations Statistics Division Conference on Climate Change and Official Statistics held in Oslo, Norway
  • United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Committee on Poverty Reduction, 4th Session, Bangkok, Thailand
  • United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Expert Group Meeting on Effective Use of Information Technology in Population Censuses, held in Bangkok, Thailand
  • 8th Association of the South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Heads of Statistical Offices Meeting, held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • International Comparison Program (ICP) Executive Board Meeting, held in Washington DC, USA
  • Conference of European Statisticians, held in Helsinki, Finland.
  • During 2007–08, ABS senior executives held the following positions on international bodies:

    Brian Pink, the Australian Statistician, is –

  • Australia’s Head of Delegation to the United Nations Statistical Commission

  • Chairman of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Committee on Statistics

  • Member of the Executive Bureau of the Conference of European Statisticians, and

  • Technical Adviser to the OECD Global Project Advisory Board on ‘Measuring the Progress of Societies’.


    The ‘Measuring the Progress of Societies’ project is an initiative hosted by the OECD. The OECD collaborates with a range of international and regional partners, including the ABS, in the development of sub-national, national and international indicators of societal progress. The project emerged due to an increasing need to more effectively measure and assess societal progress, in relation to social, environmental and economic issues.

    Ms Susan Linacre, Deputy Australian Statistician, Social Statistics Group, is –

  • Council member of the International Statistical Institute, and

  • President Elect of the International Association of Survey Statisticians (2007–2009).

    Peter Harper, Deputy Australian Statistician, Population, Labour, Industry and Environment Statistics Group, is –

  • Member of the Advisory Expert Group for the 1993 System of National Accounts Update

  • Chair of United Nations Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting, and

  • Member of the International Comparison Program Executive Board.

    The ABS continues to be involved in the development of international standards, including key international macro-economic standards, such as the revised System of National Accounts, the Balance of Payments Manual and International Investment Position Manual, 2008. More information on the ABS’ international work in these areas can be found in Chapter 14, Statistical standards and infrastructure.


    The ABS received a number of visits from other national statistics offices, statistical agencies and international statistical organisations during the year, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Canada, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

    The duration and purpose of these visits vary, but all act to build stronger relationships with like organisations, to share knowledge. For example, the discussions held with the Philippines’ National Statistical Coordination Board during the year on poverty statistics, to improve their technical abilities, will ensure that the benefits extend beyond the participants to the National Statistical Office as a whole.

    ABS TAS hosted a visit by Deputy Secretary General of NSO Thailand

    During 2007–08, the ABS Tasmania Office hosted a visit by Angsumal Sunalai, Deputy Secretary General of the National Statistics Office (NSO) Thailand, and 14 of his colleagues.


    The International Comparison Program (ICP) is a statistical initiative to produce internationally comparable expenditure values, Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) estimates and comparative price levels. All major international development agencies, including the World Bank, the IMF, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Development Fund use ICP results to analyse economic and social conditions within their areas of concern. The ICP offers a powerful tool for comparative research on economic and social development.

    The Asian Development Bank was responsible for coordinating the Asia-Pacific region’s participation in the ICP and the Deputy Australian Statistician, Peter Harper, is a member of the Regional Advisory Board.

    The final results for the Asia-Pacific component of the 2005 ICP were published in December 2007 by the Asian Development Bank. The results covered GDP and its main expenditure components. Of particular interest was the inclusion of China, which participated in the ICP for the first time.

    Australia is not part of the Asia-Pacific ICP but participates via the OECD’s PPP program. However, the ABS provided extensive technical assistance for the Asia-Pacific ICP and was acknowledged in the release of the results.


    The ABS continues to contribute to international statistical training, through organisations such as the United Nations, the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP), the Secretariat of the Pacific Communities (SPC) and the IMF.

    The ABS provides international statistical assistance to countries in the Asia-Pacific region seeking ABS advice and support and are high priority for the Australian Government. The ABS currently has three major long-term programs of technical assistance in place:

  • Indonesia: Government Partnership Fund

  • Pacific Region: Pacific Governance Support Program

  • Vanuatu: Vanuatu Statistical Institutional Strengthening Program


    The ABS has had a long association with Badan Pusat Statistik—Statistics Indonesia (BPS—Statistics Indonesia) and the two agencies have signed a number of memoranda of understanding on cooperation in statistics.

    AusAID is managing a Government Partnership Fund (GPF) to assist Indonesia as part of the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and Development. The Government Partnership Fund is a flagship of Australia’s enhanced partnership with Indonesia and provides a vehicle for supporting the further development of Indonesia’s economic governance and public sector management capabilities.

    Specifically, the goal of ABS involvement in the GPF is to improve the Indonesian statistical system and to establish greater coordination and a stronger relationship between Australia, BPS and Bank Indonesia, with a mutually agreed identification of skill and capability gaps.

    In 2007–2008, three missions were undertaken under the program. In the first, four staff of BPS—Statistics Indonesia visited the ABS to review the ABS’ Labour Force Survey, including its sampling methodology, field operations and survey outputs. The second mission, held in Indonesia, focused on the collection phase of the labour force survey. The third and final mission, also held in Indonesia, focused on improving the statistical methodology of the BPS—Statistics Indonesia Labour Force Survey, including sampling and estimation. A highlight of this mission was the opportunity to present a lecture to students at the School of Statistics of BPS—Statistics Indonesia, as well as senior BPS—Statistics Indonesia staff, on sampling of rare populations.

    Further missions under the program are planned for 2008–2009.


    The ABS has been involved in two main programs of assistance in the AusAID funded Pacific Governance Support Program. The first program covered the years 2005–2007, with the second taking place during 2007–2008. The aim of the both programs was to strengthen the national statistical systems of Pacific Island countries.

    During the first program, the ABS in collaboration with the SPC, provided project management training in the Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu. In the second program, training was provided to Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.


    During 2007–2008, the ABS continued its assistance to the Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO), under the AusAID-funded Vanuatu Statistical Institutional Strengthening Program. The program continues to develop capacity and capability of the VNSO through improved corporate governance.

    The mentoring program for the Acting Government Statistician in leadership, management, budgeting and planning, which started early in 2007, continued during the year. Other activities planned are the delivery of technical assistance for rebasing both the Consumer Price Index and National Accounts.


    In addition to planned programs of assistance, the ABS provided statistical advice and capacity building to many countries in the region, including:

  • Philippines on poverty statistics

  • Vietnam on a business register

  • Laos on statistics management, and

  • Iran on the population census.


    Results from the 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALLS) were released in November 2007. The ALLS was conducted as part of an international comparative survey of adult skills coordinated by Statistics Canada in collaboration with, among others, the OECD and UNESCO. The ALLS study builds on the International Adult Literacy Survey, the world’s first comparative survey of adult skills conducted between 1994 and 1998. Other countries involved include Bermuda, Canada, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Switzerland and the United States of America.

    Previous PageNext Page