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The ABS continued its role as an important and active member of the international statistical community in 2002-03. It is regarded as one of the world’s best international statistical citizens. The main activities of the ABS during the year, in terms of international involvement, were:
During the year the ABS also made contributions to the development of statistical standards through a number of international groups specialising in individual fields of statistics whose work is coordinated by the United Nations (UN) Statistical Commission. Furthermore, the Australian Statistician was invited to address several international meetings on key elements of a national statistical service.
The Australian Statistician continued as the President of the International Statistical Institute (ISI), the peak professional body for statisticians in all fields. The ABS contributed to ongoing preparations for the 2005 biennial session of the ISI to be held in Sydney following an invitation from the Australian government. The Deputy Australian Statistician (Ms Susan Linacre) is chairman of the scientific program committee for the 2003 session.
In 2002-03 the ABS hosted visits by heads of the national statistical offices of New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Tonga, while the Australian Statistician visited a number of other national statistical agencies. There were also other exchanges of visits with national statistical agencies to share knowledge on specific topics.
During the year the ABS hosted a conference on population censuses with senior representatives from Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The conference provided valuable opportunities for discussion of major matters of common concern and new developments related to population censuses.
Australia, represented by the ABS, has been an active participant in the Committee on Statistics of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The Committee had its final session during the year and, following a change in the ESCAP structure, is being replaced by other arrangements. The final session was chaired by the Australian Statistician. The ABS has been active in influencing the new arrangements with the aim of ensuring that appropriate provision for regional statistical work will be maintained. The ABS is also helping to ensure that the new arrangements are put in place in an effective way.
The ABS continued to provide a valuable contribution to international statistical training through the UN Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific. As a member of the Governing Board, the ABS contributed senior resource persons for a three-day management seminar for heads of national statistical offices in the Asia-Pacific region.
During 2002-03, the ABS continued its program of technical cooperation with the Indonesian statistical agency under a Memorandum of Understanding. A highlight was a two-week visit to the ABS office in Darwin by staff from seven eastern Indonesian provinces to study statistical operations. Other technical assistance was provided for a number of countries including China, Thailand, Philippines, Fiji, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Tonga, East Timor and Viet Nam.
Following concern in the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) about the need for improvements in statistics relating to its field of interest for Pacific island countries, the ABS hosted a one day workshop organised by the Australian National Commission for UNESCO. This was attended by representatives of UNESCO, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Australian Agency for International Development, Statistics New Zealand and the ABS. The workshop provided a useful inventory of activity to assist Pacific island countries in statistical development and of the roles of respective agencies active in the region.