1015.0 - Information Paper: Transforming Statistics for the Future, Feb 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/02/2016  First Issue
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Household survey data is a fundamentally important input into official statistics. Household surveys enable us to collect information directly from people for the express purpose of producing statistical information.

The cost to the ABS of traditional survey collection methods has been increasing over time and the ABS is seeking ways to deliver statistics which are less intrusive and less costly on households. We are increasing our capability to be more responsive and flexible to meet current and emerging information needs through the consolidation and integration of our household surveys.

The consolidation and integration of our household surveys will ensure we continue to deliver optimum survey programs and trusted official statistics. Key to achieving this is the development of the Australian Population Survey.

The Australian Population Survey is our new approach to producing high quality social statistics. By consolidating and integrating the existing suite of household surveys into one flexible, responsive and cost-effective Australian Population Survey we are able to create more frequent and richer statistics for our data users.

There will be many benefits for users of data from an Australian Population Survey, including:

  • more comprehensive data - by consolidating individual surveys into a single survey with a larger sample size, we will be able to better use taxpayers’ money to provide more comprehensive data
  • integrated data - users will be able to make more informed decisions from Australian Population Survey data linked to Census and administrative datasets
  • more frequent statistics - the Australian Population Survey will make tracking emerging trends easier through continuous collection of data
  • greater targeted data collection - users will be able to access more complete data regarding key population groups of interest, as the Australian Population Surveys’ two-phase model allows more efficient targeted selection of households with certain characteristics
  • responsive to user needs - the ABS will be able to more easily provide data at shorter notice as a result of the modular design of the survey and its continuous ongoing data collection.
The Australian Population Survey is being designed with several key features:
  • a large sample size - of 150,000 to 200,000 households, per year
  • First Phase – data will be collected from all respondents, using digital methods wherever possible. The content will be designed to facilitate integration with both the Census and key administrative datasets, as well as to produce key statistics for Australia
  • Second Phase – will involve sub samples of respondents to the first phase. Around half of the first phase respondents will be followed up for further information via one of the second-phase streams:
      • Critical Monthly Stream – will feature topics traditionally part of the Monthly Population Survey, such as the monthly Labour Force Survey
      • General Stream – will feature a short set of core social and demographic content and a range of topics traditionally covered in periodic stand-alone surveys
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Discrete Communities and Very Remote Areas Stream – will cover a range of topics, including labour force information, which will then be brought together with data collected from other streams to produce nationally representative data.
The remaining half of first phase respondents are available for inclusion in data collection activities, such as:
      • Rapid Response Stream – available to meet information needs which arise at short notice, are short term, and are brief in content. The Rapid Response Stream can effectively target sub-populations of interest identified by data collected in first phase.
      • Longitudinal Stream - in addition to longitudinal information obtained linking survey data with administrative data, this prospective second phase stream allows the unique opportunity to recruit long-term longitudinal panels for sub-populations of interest, based on the characteristics collected in First Phase.
The Australian Population Survey will be developed and implemented consistent with ABS' risk appetite that is articulated in the ABS Risk Management Framework. While managing any impacts on the quality of our statistics, we support continual improvement. Any changes will be implemented in a carefully considered way. This low risk appetite means we will consult heavily with users before any implementation starts.

More information on the Australian Population Survey will be released in the form of a Discussion Paper in the first half of 2016.

There is more work to be done in undertaking one of the biggest changes in the ABS’ history and with the ongoing support of our stakeholders, we are confident we can achieve our vision of unleashing the power of statistics for a better Australia.