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TECHNICAL NOTE 2 DATA QUALITY
5 To illustrate the above, the estimate of total expenditure on direct community services activities in 2008-09 was $25,184.9m. The RSE of this estimate is shown as 0.6%, giving a standard error of approximately $151.1m. Therefore, there are two chances in three that, if all units had been included in the survey, an estimate in the range of $25,033.8m to $25,336.0m would have been obtained. Similarly, it implies that there are nineteen chances in twenty (i.e. a confidence interval of 95%) that the estimate would have been within the range of $24,882.7m to $25,487.1m.
6 The size of the RSE may be a misleading indicator of the reliability of some of the estimates for (a) operating profit before tax and (b) industry value added. It is possible for an estimate legitimately to include positive and negative values, reflecting the financial performance of individual businesses/organisations. In this case, the aggregated estimate can be small relative to the contribution of individual businesses/organisations, resulting in a standard error which is large relative to the estimate.
7 Error other than that due to sampling may occur in any type of collection, whether a full census or a sample, and is referred to as non-sampling error. It can arise from inadequacies in available sources from which the population frame was compiled, imperfections in reporting by providers, errors made in collection such as in recording and coding data and errors made in processing data. It also occurs when information cannot be obtained from all businesses selected.
8 Although it is not possible to quantify non-sampling error, every effort was made to reduce it to a minimum. Collection forms were designed to be easy to complete and assist businesses to report accurately. Efficient and effective operating procedures and systems were used to compile the statistics. The ABS compared data from different ABS (and non-ABS) sources relating to the one industry, to ensure consistency and coherence.
9 Differences in accounting policy and practices across businesses and industries can lead to some inconsistencies in the data used to compile the estimates. Although much of the accounting process is subject to standards, there remains a great deal of flexibility available to individual businesses in the accounting policies and practices that they adopt.
10 The above limitations are not meant to imply that analysis based on these data should be avoided, only that the limitations should be borne in mind when interpreting the data presented in this publication. This publication presents a wide range of data that can be used to analyse business and industry performance. It is important that any analysis be based upon the range of data presented rather than focusing on one variable.
11 In the 2008-09 survey of community services, there was a 91% response rate from all businesses that were surveyed and found to be operating during the reference period. Data were imputed for the remaining 9% of operating businesses. Imputed responses contributed 4.5% to the estimate of total income for all selected industries.
Comparison with other ABS statistics
Australian Industry (cat no. 8155.0)
12 Key annual industry data for ANZSIC06 subdivisions 86 Residential care services and 87 Social assistance services are published in Australian Industry (cat. no. 8155.0). There are important differences between statistics published in Australian Industry and Community Services and users should exercise caution when making comparisons between the two sets of estimates. A key difference is the inclusion of micro non-employers in Australian Industry, where they contribute less than 2% to total turnover in subdivision 86 and less than 2.25% in subdivision 87.
13 Australian Industry presents annual summary statistics at the ANZSIC06 division and subdivision levels. It shows the relative performance of each industry division and subdivision, and allows patterns of change of growth to be analysed across particular segments of the Australian economy.
14 Community Services supplements Australian Industry statistics with a detailed examination of the structure and performance of community services businesses/organisations for the reference year of the survey. As such, the survey is not designed to monitor change over time.
Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (cat. no. 8165.0)
15 Estimates of the number of businesses operating in Australia can be derived from a number of sources within the ABS. They may relate to a particular point in time or may be presented as an average annual figure. However, these estimates will not always show the same results. Variations will occur because of differing data sources, differing scope and coverage definitions between surveys, as well as variations due to sampling and non-sampling error. More information about business counts can be found in the information paper A Statistical View of Counts of Businesses in Australia (cat. no. 8162.0).
16 The Community Services survey is not designed to provide high quality estimates of numbers of businesses for any of the output classifications (for example, employment size or industry) and the number of businesses in this publication are only included to provide contextual information for the user. A more robust source of counts of Australian businesses is available from Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, Jun 2003 to Jun 2007 (cat. no. 8165.0)
Not-for-profit organisations (cat. no. 8106.0)
17 Selected data on the 'not for profit' sector is published in Not-for-profit Organisations (cat. no. 8106). The classification system used in this survey was a reduced version of the International Classification of Non-Profit Organisations. Whilst this allows a fuller specification of the components of the not-for-profit sector, it does not have a concordance which enables a ready comparison to ANZSIC06, upon which this survey is based.
18 The reader should bear in mind that this survey was not designed to support accurate estimates of change over time. There have been major changes in the statistical units, frame, scope, industry classification and estimation methodology between the 1999-2000 and 2008-09 Community Services surveys. These include:
19 Consequently, estimates in this issue are not directly comparable with those in the 1999-2000 issue and users are advised against making historical comparisons.
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