ABS Service Charters
The ABS had two service charters during 2000-01.
The Client Service Charter describes the relationship between the ABS and users of its products and services. The Charter was developed in consultation with a representative sample of clients. Copies of the Charter are available on the ABS website and through bookshops located in each ABS office.
The Client Service Charter also offers guidance to clients wishing to provide compliments or register complaints on any aspect of client relationship or services. During 2000-01, three complaints from clients were recorded. The subjects of these complaints were: the ABS charging policy (two), and lack of notification of changes to outputs (one). All complaints were responded to.
The Business Surveys Charter sets out the relationship between the ABS and businesses which provide it with information for statistical purposes. The Charter explains how businesses can seek help from the ABS. During 2000-01, there were 748 complaints from businesses which had been selected in ABS economic surveys, out of approximately 100,000 businesses surveyed during the year. A response was sent to all of these businesses. The Charter also provides for businesses to ask for a review of the complaints handling process. Three businesses requested the Complaints Review Officer to review either the process or the outcome. This year, the ABS has reviewed its procedures for managing issues raised by businesses selected in ABS surveys to improve its management of respondents.
The Charter was developed in consultation with representatives of small business. The Charter is provided to new respondents in collections involving businesses. It is available in English, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Greek and Arabic. The Charter is available on the ABS website.
Both the Client Service and Business Surveys Charters include performance standards for the relationships between the ABS and its clients, and its service delivery. Performance against these standards is the subject of ongoing review, as are the Charters themselves.
Social Justice and Equity
ABS support for the Charter for Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society is demonstrated primarily through the provision of statistical information available to government and community groups to assist in developing and monitoring access strategies in relevant fields, and by taking action to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers in the collection of data.
The ABS work program takes account of the Charter principles, and meets government needs for information to support social justice policies, by the identification of specific population groups of policy interest (such as Indigenous Australians, immigrants, people with disabilities, unemployed people, older Australians, women and children) in censuses and surveys concerned with various aspects of social wellbeing. In 2000-01, the ABS continued to provide data on population, health and welfare, education, employment, unemployment and other topics relating to labour force participation, earnings and income, housing, and recorded crime and justice administration. The Survey of Voluntary Work was completed during the year and information on how employees’ pay was set was published for the first time in March 2001.
In 2000-01, the ABS released a wide range of statistical publications relevant to social justice and equity. These include various new issues such as Prisoners in Australia, 2000 (Cat. no. 4517.0), Children’s Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2000 (Cat. no. 4901.0), Caring in the Community, Australia, 1998 (Cat. no. 4436.0), and Australian Housing Survey: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results, 1999 (Cat. no. 4712.0). The ABS also released experimental estimates of the labour force status of Indigenous Australians in an Occasional Paper Labour Force Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (Cat. no. 6287.0).
Other publications of particular relevance to social justice and equity, released by the ABS in 2000-01, included Voluntary Work, Australia, 2000 (Cat. no. 4441.0), Unpaid Work and the Australian Economy, 1997 (Cat. no. 5240.0), Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants, Australia, November 1999 (Cat. no. 6250.0), Locations of Work, Australia, June 2000 (Cat. no. 6275.0), which provides results from the latest in a series of surveys on people who work from home, Disability and Long Term Health Conditions, Australia, 1998 (Cat. no. 4433.0), Australian Housing Survey: Housing Characteristics, Costs and Conditions, 1999 (Cat. no. 4182.0), Household Expenditure Survey: Detailed Expenditure Items, Australia, 1998-99 (Cat. no. 6535.0), and Australian Social Trends, 2001 (Cat. no. 4102.0), the eighth issue in the annual series of broad ranging social reports drawing on the ABS and other official sources of social statistics. The ABS also provided a detailed statistical appendix for a publication on women in Australia to be released by the Commonwealth Office of the Status of Women.
Commonwealth Disability Strategy
In the context of the Commonwealth Disability Strategy the ABS performs two roles - it is a provider of statistical services and an employer.
In its role as a provider, the ABS has ensured that the ABS website meets, as required by the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE), Priority 1 of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Due to the high number of tables on the ABS website it has not been possible to meet Priority 2. The ABS has been working with a range of parties including the Royal Institute for the Blind and other government agencies to make our website more accessible. This project has included work with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Mass.) on ‘Educational Web Page Accessibility for Blind and Low Vision Users’.
As an employer, the ABS has implemented a range of initiatives relevant to the Disability Strategy, including:
- the development of comprehensive ‘Reasonable Workplace Adjustment Guidelines’;
- information on issues of reasonable workplace adjustment in the ABS On-line Learning Program about Workplace Diversity. All staff will be encouraged to undertake this On-line Learning Program;
- in the ABS internal training programs, Introduction to Management; Management Development Program; and Orientation, sessions on workplace diversity. These sessions include discussion of management responsibilities in relation to reasonable workplace adjustment, and the inclusion of all staff;
- the conduct of a pilot training program on ‘Recruiting for the ABS’ earlier this year. This program was developed in full consultation with the National Workplace Diversity Adviser to ensure that people responsible for recruiting are fully aware of their responsibilities in ensuring that opportunities are provided for all people to apply for, and be selected for, recruitment into the ABS;
- an invitation to the Director of the Office of Disability to talk to the Workplace Diversity Team in central office to provide information about the Commonwealth Disability Strategy and its application in the ABS;
- ensuring the ABS in recruiting staff follows the relevant legislation and no discriminatory practices take place. These issues are addressed in the ABS Manual of Personnel Management; and
In addition to its role as a provider and employer, the ABS also has an important role in terms of providing information about disabilities, to assist informed decision making by policy advisers. Information on the nature and extent of disability and associated needs for care and support, as well as the impact of the caring role on carers, is available in Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings (Cat. no. 4430.0). The next ABS collection on this topic is scheduled for September 2003. Another recent publication of relevance to the issue is Disability and Long Term Health Conditions, Australia, 1998 (Cat. no. 4433.0).
Ecologically Sustainable Development
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 requires agencies to report on aspects of its performance as it relates to ecologically sustainable development. The ABS has two key roles in respect of this issue. The first of these is in relation to the ABS mission/outcome and providing statistics on the environment and environmental issues to enable informed decision making. The second role is in relation to ABS operations and its impact on the environment and the steps being taken by the ABS to minimise that impact.
The environment component of the ABS Economic Statistics Program collects and publishes information about environment and energy statistics, including environment accounts. The component is involved in the coordination of data collection, research and analysis and implementing international accounting and environmental frameworks.
During 2000-01 the ABS released a range of publications relevant to environmental issues. These included, Environmental Issues: People’s Views and Practices (Cat. no. 4602.0); Environmental Expenditure, Local Government (Experimental Estimates), 1997-98 (Cat. no. 4611.0); and Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emission Accounts for Australia, 1992-93 to 1997-98 (Cat. no. 4604.0). The ABS is also progressing towards the development of Forest Accounts, Waste Accounts, Land Accounts and enhanced Water Accounts.
The operations of the ABS do result in the production of greenhouse gases through energy and gas consumption, fuel consumption and waste. Measures the ABS is taking to manage and minimise the effect of its operations on the environment include:
- the development of training facilities, including information technology training equipment in ABS House, which have been designed to be accessible by all. Training rooms will be immediately adjacent to lifts to facilitate safe and appropriate access and egress.
- the conduct of energy audits of all offices in 1999 and the subsequent implementation of recommendations to reduce the level of energy usage;
- purchase of 10 per cent of green energy for ABS central office;
- implementation of a policy of recycling paper, bottles, cans, and cartons - recycling bins are readily accessible to all ABS staff ;
- increased use of LPG powered vehicles;
- regular monitoring of energy accounts; and
Energy efficiency has been one of the prime considerations in the design of ABS House, the new central office of the ABS. Energy usage is expected to decline with the move to this new accommodation.
- developing a plan to join the Greenhouse Challenge.