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The Population and Social Statistics Program produces statistical information relating to the Australian population, for example census and demographic statistics. The program also presents information relating to the social and economic wellbeing of the nation. This information provides a picture of the ways people’s lives are changing over time. There is also work focusing on different groups in the population. Population and social statistics are produced mainly through the ABS household survey program.
The ABS framework for social statistics, as published in Measuring Wellbeing: Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics (cat. no. 4160.0), is built around two key dimensions. The first relates to a number of key areas of social concern:
Statistics produced by the Population and Social Statistics Program include some regular series as well as a range of measures that are produced less frequently or on a periodic or one-off basis. The regular series include monthly labour force measures; quarterly population estimates; quarterly average weekly earnings figures; annual statistics on recorded crime, courts and prisoners; and annual births and causes of death statistics.
In 2006–07, results released from less frequent series included:
1. Completion of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing
The 2006 Census of Population and Housing provides a wealth of social data that is used widely by individuals, community groups, businesses, researchers and governments. The census is the largest statistical collection undertaken in Australia, and one of the most important for the ABS. Its objective is to accurately measure the number and key characteristics of people in Australia on census night, which was 8 August 2006, and the dwellings in which they live. The data provide a reliable basis for the estimation of the population of each of the states, territories and local government areas. The census also provides information about the characteristics of the Australian population and its housing within small geographic areas and for small population groups. The census provides statistical information to assist decision making for all aspects of society. The census data underpin or complement many other statistical activities undertaken by the ABS and other users of statistics.
More information on the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, including information on the eCensus, which was used for the first time, can be found in the special article Chapter 7 2006 Census of Population and Housing.
2. Conduct of the 2006 Census Post Enumeration Survey
After each Census of Population and Housing, a Post Enumeration Survey (PES) is conducted to produce estimates of the proportion of the population missed, or counted more than once, in the census. The PES provides information for users on the quality of the census, and is used with the data from the census to produce estimates of the population. To improve the quality of the estimates, the 2006 PES included remote areas and discrete Indigenous communities, for the first time. In 2006–07, two information papers about how the data was collected and methods used in estimation were published, as well as a publication presenting estimates of net undercount in the census. For more information, see Census of Population and Housing - Undercount (cat. no. 2940.0) and Information Paper: Measuring Net Undercount in the 2006 Population Census (cat. no. 2940.0.55.001).
An ABS officer interviewing for the Post Enumeration Survey
3. Implementation of an improved method for estimating net overseas migration
An improved method for estimating net overseas migration was implemented in ABS population estimates from September quarter 2006. The improved methodology was developed in response to the changing patterns of travel to and from Australia, in particular the increased propensity for travellers to interrupt longer periods of stay or absence with short trips.
Information Paper: Statistical Implications of Improved Methods for Estimating Net Overseas Migration (cat. no. 3107.0.55.005) describes the new method and provides comparisons with previously published estimates.
4. Updated population estimates
Using the results of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, the 2006 Census Post Enumeration Survey, and other data, the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) series for each state and territory were updated for September quarter 2001 onwards. Additional analysis and quality assurance was undertaken to improve the quality of population estimates for older persons. Consistent with the requirements of A New Tax System (Commonwealth - State Financial Arrangements) Act 1999, state and territory representatives were consulted prior to the release of data.
Estimates for 31 December 2006 were provided to the Australian Government Treasury for use in determining the distribution of GST to state and territory governments. The estimates were also provided for use in distributing grants under the Local Government (Financial Assistance Grants) Act 1995. Updated estimates for Local Government Areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were released in June and August 2007, respectively.
5. Changes to ABS measures of employee remuneration
Changes to the nature of employee remuneration in recent years have led to the need to review ABS measures of employee remuneration, to ensure that the conceptual basis of the measures is still sound. These changes are discussed in Information Paper: Changes to ABS Measures of Employee Remuneration (cat. no. 6313.0), which also describes employee remuneration arrangements, international standards for statistics of employee remuneration, the changes to conceptual treatments, and the impact of these changes on the ABS’ statistical series. The changed treatment of salary sacrifice in remuneration measures is being progressively implemented in the affected series.
6. Release of the Children and Youth Information Development Plan
The Information Paper: Improving Statistics on Children and Youth - An Information Development Plan, 2006 (cat. no. 4907.0), which was released on 8 December 2006, identifies the agreed priorities and action for information development for children and youth statistics. The paper also includes a conceptual framework, identifies key issues in the field, lists data currently available, and identifies gaps in data. It is based on a shared understanding of the key policy issue imperatives, and agreement on the areas of priority for statistical data development. The plan was endorsed by: The Australian Council for Educational Research; the Australian Institute of Criminology; the Australian Institute of Family Studies; the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth; the Department of Education, Science and Training; the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations; the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; the Department of Health and Ageing; the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research; and the Productivity Commission.
7. Development of the new occupation classification
The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) was released on 11 September 2006 and was used for the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, the Monthly Population Survey, and other relevant ABS collections.
ANZSCO is the product of a development program undertaken jointly by a project team from the ABS, Statistics New Zealand and the Australian Government Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, for use in the collection, publication and analysis of occupation statistics. The use of ANZSCO will result in improved comparability of occupation statistics produced by the two countries. ANZSCO will replace the existing Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Second Edition and the New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (NZSCO) 1999.
More information on ANZSCO is available in the special article Chapter 8 Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations.
8. Ongoing work on the Census Data Enhancement project
The Census Data Enhancement (CDE) project aims to enhance the value of data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and subsequent censuses by creating a Statistical Longitudinal Census Dataset (SLCD) for a 5 per cent sample of the Australian population. This project has proceeded in line with the Statement of Intention published on the ABS website in August 2005, which followed initial consultation on a proposal in 2004–05 and the preparation of a Privacy Impact Statement. This work will bring together data through statistical techniques rather than matching based on name and address. Names and addresses will not be kept.
Work in 2006–07 continued to focus on assessing matching methodologies and developing options for selection of the Statistical Longitudinal Census Dataset sample, as well as the commencement of linking datasets for the various quality studies, outlined in the Information Paper, Census Data Enhancement Project: An Update (cat. no. 2062.0), published on the ABS website.
9. Development of the Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing
The 2007 Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing was developed during 2006–07, with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, and will use an international instrument (the Computerised International Diagnostic Instrument) modified to provide information about prevalence of mental health conditions, and about use of health services.
10. Redevelopment of the National Health Survey
Following a review of the health survey, and extensive consultation with clients on information needs around mental health, the National Health Survey and the Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing instruments and procedures were developed and tested during 2006–07. The 2007–08 National Health Survey will build on previous surveys, with a stronger focus on chronic disease, and collection of measured height, weight and waist circumference.
ABS staff with the newsstand poster used by The Canberra Times to promote the Health Survey conducted by the ABS
DEVELOPMENTS IN CLIENT ENGAGEMENT AND OUTPUT ENHANCEMENT
The Population and Social Statistics Program has continued to work closely with its clients to ensure:
ABS DIRECTIONS IN ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER STATISTICS
The Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics (AGATSIS) met in February 2007, following the first meeting of the group in May 2006. This group replaces a number of survey or project-specific groups, to provide advice to the ABS on advancing its program of Indigenous statistics and setting future strategic directions. A number of Indigenous Australians are represented on AGATSIS and other members include senior staff from the government and research sectors.
Participants at the AGATSIS meeting held in February 2007
After reviewing the current policy context of Indigenous affairs, and following extensive consultation with stakeholders, including AGATSIS, the ABS Directions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics (cat. no. 4700.0) was released in June 2007. Six key strategic areas were identified:
POPULATION WELLBEING DATA GAPS WORKSHOP - ACTION PLAN
As reported in the 2005–06 annual report, a workshop on population wellbeing data gaps was held in June 2006, which was jointly organised and convened by the Treasury, the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) and the ABS. The aims of the workshop were: to identify information gaps and data shortcomings considered to be highest priority; to consider mechanisms for satisfying the gaps; and to suggest strategies and ongoing processes to drive forward an effective body of statistical information on population wellbeing over the next 5–10 years.
Following the workshop, Treasury, FaCSIA and the ABS identified a range of actions where, in collaboration with other agencies, progress could be made toward achieving the stated objective of improving the information available to measure population wellbeing. These actions include:
Progress has been made on mapping data that exist across agencies but are generally not in an accessible or usable form. Timetables for developing policy can be very short so having data already available would be a better solution than undertaking new collections for meeting information needs in these instances. For this reason, and to minimise reporting loads on individuals, it was agreed by the workshop participants that there needed to be some investigations of data that already exists, their readiness to be used to inform current and urgent issues, and any impediments to their use for these purposes.
The workshop participants identified early childhood, mental health, and humanitarian migrants as potential areas that would benefit from data mapping. The first pilot project involves early childhood, and is being undertaken in collaboration with Treasury, FaCSIA, the Department of Education, Science and Training, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the ABS. As well as identifying available data and the gaps or deficiencies needing to be addressed, the project will also look at data accessibility for statistical purposes, using existing business processes and governance arrangements. The project team is also considering the interagency data management model that would best deliver the outcomes being sought. The report from this first pilot project is expected to be released by the end of 2007.
SUPPORT FOR AGENCIES
The Population and Social Statistics Program has continued to support the work of other agencies in developing statistical products and capability. For example, it has provided advice and expertise through membership of steering and working groups associated with the Council of Australian Governments’ Review of Government Services Provision and Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage reports, and for key government-funded surveys for which other agencies are responsible. These include the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), and the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC). It has increased engagement with LSAC by providing survey development and data collection services for waves two to four of the survey, under a partnership with the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
REVIEW OF THE HOUSEHOLD SURVEY PROGRAM
The Population and Social Statistics Program periodically undertakes a major review of its household survey program to ensure emerging issues are being adequately addressed and ongoing measures remain relevant. The latest review commenced in 2006. Leading up to this review, the ABS had been actively engaged with many Australian Government and state and territory government agencies and non-government users of social data to determine emerging needs and key priorities. The June 2006 Population Wellbeing Data Gaps workshop (discussed above) provided timely input to the review. The ABS has also been working with other agencies to develop a number of Information Development Plans, or similar reports, which are designed to take stock of available data, document major needs, and develop a way forward to fill those gaps, including through the household survey program.
Feedback on the state of the survey program was sought via bilateral discussions with senior staff from a small number of Australian Government agencies, who are key stakeholders in the program. A wider consultation process was conducted with other Australian Government agencies, state and territory governments, and other clients seeking their views on the draft program (in terms of content and frequency).
The priorities reflected in the broad content and frequency of a future survey program have generally been supported by key stakeholders. Detailed planning for the program including when particular surveys would best be conducted under the draft program and the funding implications if the program were to be delivered, are being developed.
Table 5.1: The Population and Social Statistics Program