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Dennis Trewin, Australian Statistician since 2000, retired in January 2007 after a distinguished career in the ABS. He was the thirteenth person to lead the organisation since the Bureau of Census and Statistics was established in 1905.
Retired Australian Statistician, Dennis Trewin
Dennis began his ABS career in 1965 as a cadet. He received a Bachelor of Science with Honours from the University of Melbourne in 1967. Much of Dennis’ early career was spent in the sampling and methodology area of the ABS. From 1974, he spent two years at the London School of Economics where he was awarded his Masters degree, majoring in statistics and econometrics.
In 1983, Dennis was appointed First Assistant Statistician, Industry Statistics Division and was responsible for upgrading the quality of business statistics and the successful conduct of business censuses. He substantially improved the division’s relationship with other areas of the ABS.
In 1986, Dennis moved to the position of First Assistant Statistician, Statistical and Information Services Division, where he was responsible for the successful conduct of the 1991 Census. He played a major role in developing the marketing function in the ABS; in setting up a data warehousing project, which would ultimately become the repository for all ABS statistics; and in the introduction of CD-ROM technology to the ABS.
In 1992, Dennis was appointed as the Deputy Government Statistician, Statistics New Zealand. He set up the National and Regional Statistics Group, and improved the integration of activities during a period of significant restructuring for Statistics New Zealand. He initiated user advisory groups for social and economic statistics and strengthened external relationships with key clients and the media.
Dennis returned to Australia in 1995 to take up the role of Deputy Australian Statistician, Economic Statistics Group at the ABS. He developed a strong sense of common purpose for the newly formed group and established the Economic Statistics User Group. Dennis led the successful implementation of the 1993 version of the System of National Accounts. He also led a significant change to the conceptual basis of the Consumer Price Index in order to better meet the needs of key users. He oversaw the introduction of a more efficient business register system and a reduction of 40 per cent in the compliance cost imposed on small business, mainly through the increased use of tax data.
In July 2000, Dennis was appointed Australian Statistician. As Statistician, he effectively led the ABS through a period of significant change and ensured that the work of the ABS remained relevant as society and the economy changed and became increasingly complex. He was a leader in the ABS moving forward with the National Statistical Service, including the scoping of the National Data Network. He also placed significant emphasis on managing relationships with users of statistics, including with state and territory governments, through greater engagement and responsiveness to their needs. Among other things, this led to increased resources for the ABS in the 2005 Australian Government Budget, which was the first injection of new budget resources to the ABS in over a decade.
Dennis Trewin launching the 2001 Census of Population and Housing
As Statistician, Dennis was responsible for two highly successful censuses, in 2001 and 2006. He was responsible for the development of a ground-breaking publication Measures of Australia’s Progress (cat. no. 1370.0) for which he was named the winner of the Society category in The Bulletin magazine’s Smart 100. He also displayed a particular interest in the fast-developing field of environmental statistics and, as a member of the 2001 and 2006 State of the Environment Committees, made a significant contribution to an improved understanding of Australia’s environment.
In 2005, the ABS celebrated its 100th birthday. Dennis directed the celebrations and was responsible for the publication of a comprehensive history of the ABS.
Dennis is a professional statistician. He was President of the Statistical Society of Australia from 1987 to 1988 and is a life member of the society. He is a member and former President of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) and was responsible for Australia hosting the 2005 ISI fifty-fifth session in Sydney, which attracted over 2000 delegates from more than 100 countries. He was also a President of the International Association of Survey Statisticians. Dennis took a strong interest in the development of future generations of statisticians, including entering into arrangements with universities to ensure that statistical programs receive proper attention.
Dennis had extensive involvement in international statistical affairs and made significant contributions to the United Nations Statistics Commission over many years, including as convenor of the Friends of the Chair on Millennium Development Goals Indicators. He is also the Chair of the Executive Board for the World Bank’s International Comparison Program. Dennis provided international leadership in the area of microdata dissemination practices and principles and was also formerly the Chairman of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Committee on Statistics.
Dennis brought an unwavering commitment to public service to all his roles and his behaviour always exemplified high professionalism and ethical standards. Throughout his career, Dennis brokered productive working relationships, fostered talent and treated people with compassion.
We would like to wish Dennis all the best for his retirement.