Farewell from the Top
The Australian Statistician, Dennis Trewin, has recently announced his intention to retire at the end of 2006. Throughout his distinguished career, Dennis has been very conscious of the responsibilities of the ABS to meet state and territory statistical needs. He has also been a strong supporter of regional offices in the ABS as a means of serving these clients. I am sure the new Statistician will also be keen to continue in this tradition and will want to engage with state and territory officials.
My initial term as Regional Director for Western Australia also ends later this year. I have chosen to retire rather than seek another term. I have greatly enjoyed working with the ABS and building the capability of the WA Office. I am now looking forward to assisting my successor settle into the role of Regional Director.
A number of features of the ABS as an organisation enhanced my experiences as an employee. I found the ABS to have a very strong sense of purpose and clarity about its values and standards and to place considerable importance on maintaining the trust of those who provide it with information and the confidence of those who use its statistics. It continues to seek to improve its products and services.
Finishing full time work will provide me with the opportunity to spend time exploring the more remote areas. Trips to the Kimberley and Central Australia will be early priorities. I also intend to increase my sporting activities and look for voluntary work opportunities in Landcare.
The WA Office of the ABS is in a sound state and performing well. Our contribution to national statistical programs is highly regarded and the Office has attracted additional work as a result. We have just completed a successful census operation in Western Australia and we are seen as innovative and responsive to state statistical requirements. A recent influx of new staff combined with a stable and dedicated management team provides the base for a sustainable future and a continued contribution to Western Australia.
The new Regional Director, Michael Tindall, will determine future priorities for the Western Australian Office but I will be suggesting a number of priorities. These include increasing the level of ABS outposting activity to state government agencies which for various reasons has recently fallen to an historically low level. Outpostings offer state government agencies the opportunity to improve their information base and their use of statistical information at minimal cost. The ABS has the capacity to make a greater contribution in an advisory role to the policy development and planning activities of state government. This is tied closely to the level of awareness in state government of ABS services and capability. The Office can do more in terms of increasing the informed use of statistics and providing the means for agencies to improve their statistical output. Finally, the ABS can encourage better access to state government data for state government users and for the general public.