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Other Aspects of Organisational Management and Monitoring
ABS SERVICE CHARTERS
The ABS had two service charters operating during 2004–05.
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, and offers guidance to clients wishing to provide compliments or register complaints on any aspect of client relationship or services. The Charter is available on the ABS web site or on request at any ABS office.
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 and provides for businesses to ask for a review of the complaints handling process. The Charter was developed in consultation with representatives of small business and is reviewed annually. Changes were made to the Charter in 2001 to clarify the procedures for obtaining information about ABS collections and for seeking exemptions from completing individual surveys. The Charter is provided to new respondents in collections involving businesses and is available on the ABS web site or on request at any ABS office in English, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Greek and Arabic.
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 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 in censuses and surveys concerned with various aspects of social wellbeing. Such population groups include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, immigrants, people with disabilities, unemployed people, older Australians, women and children. During 2004–05 the ABS continued to provide data on population, health and welfare, education, employment, unemployment, underemployment, and other topics relating to labour force participation, earnings and income, housing and recorded crime and justice administration.
In 2004–05 the ABS released a range of statistical publications relevant to social justice and equity. Continuing its regular contribution to this area was Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0), an annual publication drawing on the ABS and other official statistics to inform on social conditions and wellbeing in Australia.
Mature Age Persons Statistical Profile: Living Arrangements (cat. no. 4905.0.55.001) was released. This publication utilised information collected in the General Social Survey 2002 findings for persons aged 45–64 years, and included profiles on community life, education and training, health, housing, labour force, living arrangements, as well as population and cultural diversity.
Data from the 2003 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers was published in Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings (cat. no. 4430.0). The confidentialised unit record file became available in December 2005 (cat. no. 4430.0.00.001).
The ABS provided extensive statistical support to the Productivity Commission in producing the 2005 edition of the ‘Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage’ report commissioned by the Council of Australian Governments. The field phase of the 2004–05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) continued from August 2004 to June 2005. The NATSIHS is part of the ongoing ABS Indigenous household survey program and is specifically designed to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues. It comprises a much larger sample (approximately 10,000 people) than previous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander supplements to the National Health Survey. Results for the states and territories are expected to be released in the first half of 2006.
Government approval for the 2006 Census topics was obtained in 2004–05. This includes the new ‘Need for Assistance’ topic, which measures a person’s need for assistance in core activities of mobility, self-care and communication, and the ‘Unpaid Work/Caring’ topic which will include questions on unpaid care of children and others, unpaid domestic activities, and volunteering undertaken through an organisation.
COMMONWEALTH DISABILITY STRATEGY
In 1994 the Australian Government introduced the Commonwealth Disability Strategy (CDS) as a planning framework to assist Australian government agencies to meet their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The CDS was significantly redesigned following a review conducted in 1999. A revised CDS was launched in October 2000 containing a Guide to the Performance Reporting Framework. This framework identifies five key roles that Australian government agencies may perform. These are: Policy Advisor; Regulator; Purchaser; Provider; and Employer.
In the context of the CDS the ABS performs two roles — it is a provider of statistical services and an employer. Reporting of the ABS’ performance against these key roles, as required by the Performance Reporting Framework, is presented in Appendix 6. The ABS will continue to progress the implementation of the CDS in 2005–06.
In addition to its role as a provider and employer, the ABS has an important function in terms of providing information about disabilities to assist informed decision making by policy advisers. The ABS has released information from the 2003 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers in Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings (cat. no. 4430.0). The statistics shown in the publication provide information on disability prevalence in Australia, the nature and extent of disability and associated needs for care and support, as well as the impact of the caring role on carers. Further data of relevance to the issue are available as electronic table sets: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Disability and Long Term Health Conditions (cat. no. 4430.0.55.001); Disability, Ageing and Carers, Disability and Long Term Health Conditions, Tables 12 to 19 (cat. no. 4430.0.55.002); Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Caring in the Community (cat. no. 4430.0.55.003); and Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Caring in the Community, Tables 17 to 24 (cat. no. 4430.0.55.004).
The ABS has successfully developed and tested questions designed to identify people in need of assistance due to a severe/profound disability and will collect this information in the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. The ABS also contributes to national and international discussions on the development of standards for the measurement of disability.
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 of providing statistics on the environment and environmental issues to enable informed decision making. The second role is in respect of ABS operations and its impact on the environment, and the steps being taken by the ABS to minimise that impact.
The ABS response to the five components of section 516A(6) as required by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is described below.
SECTION 516A(6)(a) HOW THE ACTIVITIES OF THE ORGANISATION, AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF LEGISLATION BY THE ORGANISATION, ACCORD WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The ABS charter is to provide a high quality statistical service to the government and the community. The ABS operates primarily in an office based environment and is progressively moving from paper to electronic products.
The ABS has reduced paper consumption by increasing the number of publications available electronically. There has been a 41 per cent decrease in the number of publication titles printed, and a 59 per cent decrease in the number of publication copies printed, between 2003–04 and 2004–05. The availability of free publications on the ABS web site is expected to further reduce paper consumption.
The introduction of computer assisted interviewing has further reduced paper use. It is estimated that the elimination of paper questionnaires in the Population Survey Operations area has led to a reduction of approximately 7.2 million pages of high quality A4 paper.
The ABS is in the process of implementing electronic records management to reduce the number of new paper file creations. There has been a steady decrease in file creations since 1998 when 3,616 files were created nationally in comparison to 920 files created in 2004.
In most procurement activities the ABS has incorporated environmental clauses as part of the tender and evaluation process. Environmental considerations are also incorporated into the market testing process for new leases.
SECTION 516A(6)(b) HOW THE OUTCOMES SPECIFIED IN A RELEVANT APPROPRIATIONS ACT CONTRIBUTE TO ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The ABS receives appropriation for the purpose of informing the government on social, economic and environmental matters which are integrated into government policy.
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 environmental accounting frameworks.
During 2004–05 the ABS released a range of publications relevant to environmental issues. These included:
SECTION 516A(6)(c) EFFECT OF THE ORGANISATION'S ACTIVITIES ON THE ENVIRONMENT
The operation of the ABS contributes to a range of impacts on the environment through its use of electricity, petrol, water, paper and other materials consumed and through its generation of waste.
SECTION 516A(6)(d) MEASURES BEING TAKEN BY THE ORGANISATION TO MINIMISE THE IMPACT OF ITS ACTIVITIES ON THE ENVIRONMENT
The ABS is implementing measures to minimise the effect of its operations on the environment by:
The ABS is in the process of completing energy audits in three offices — Central Office, New South Wales Office, and Western Australia Office. Further energy audits will be undertaken next financial year. The ABS Environmental Management System is being updated to align with the new ISO14001 standards.