1395.0 - Essential Statistical Assets for Australia, 2013  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/03/2013  First Issue
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There are other initiatives to identify information needs for the Australian Government, although none of these have the particular objectives of the ESA for Australia initiative. These include performance reporting for COAG National Agreements, the National Plan for Environmental Information jointly led by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC), the Measuring Sustainability program by SEWPaC, and Measures of Australia’s Progress by the ABS.

The ABS has been working with the relevant agencies on the range of complementary initiatives identified above, noting that the timeframes, objectives, concepts and frameworks for each initiative vary, and the ESA for Australia initiative has benefitted from this. It is expected that future iterations of the ESA for Australia list will benefit from the existence of other cross-cutting initiatives such as these to help identify critical information requirements in particular areas.

The other initiatives can also provide an insight to how priorities are changing. This will also inform the future revisions of the ESA for Australia list. Further information on these other initiatives is available in the text box below.


    COAG National Agreements (COAG Reform Council)

    The COAG National Agreements establish policy objectives in a number of key sectors. There are currently six National Agreements in place across healthcare, education, skills and workforce development, disability services, affordable housing and Indigenous reform. They define the objectives, outcomes, outputs and performance indicators, and clarify the roles and responsibilities that will guide the Australian Government and the states and territories in the delivery of services across a particular sector. In addition to performance reporting, COAG has asked that the Productivity Commission report on the economic impacts and benefits of COAG reforms (footnote 3).

    National Plan for Environmental Information (jointly led by the Bureau of Meteorology and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities)

    The National Plan for Environmental Information is an Australian Government program, which aims to improve the quality and accessibility of environmental information for decision-making.

    It will build Australia’s capacity to monitor, detect and predict change in the environment and maintain this capacity over the long-term. The National Plan for Environmental Information will outline the long-term vision and a roadmap for implementation. It is an Australian Government environmental information reform program that will help account for changes in the environment and understand the impacts of decisions on the environment, economy and society.

    Measuring Sustainability program (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities)

    The Measuring Sustainability program was one of the measures announced under the Sustainable Australia - Sustainable Communities: A Population Strategy for Australia in the 2011–12 Australian Government budget. Part of this initiative is the development of a set of sustainability indicators for Australia, which will provide information on social and human capital, natural capital and economic capital to assist decision-making and planning at national and community levels.

    Measures of Australia’s Progress (ABS)

    Measures of Australia’s Progress is an initiative led by the ABS which presents a suite of indicators to help Australians answer the question, ‘Is life in Australia getting better?’ The indicators encompass a range of dimensions under the broad areas of society, economy, environment and governance.

    In 2012 ABS undertook a national consultation to find out what is important to Australians for the nation’s progress. One of the key outcomes of the consultation is that from 2013 there will be a fourth pillar - governance - incorporated into the new MAP framework, in addition to the existing pillars of society, economy and the environment.


In addition to the work noted above, it is also important to note the emergence of similar initiatives in various states and territories. Some initiatives were already in their early stages at the time of the commencement of the ESA for Australia initiative, whilst others have been prompted by the desire to develop a more locally focused list of critical statistical assets.

The ABS welcomes these developments and their prospective contribution to the enhancement of the broader NSS. As with other initiatives at the Australian Government level, the ABS will seek to collaborate with these initiatives.


The notion of identifying a nation’s key official statistics as a means of focusing efforts where it will make the most difference is not confined to the ABS or Australia. Similar initiatives have been undertaken in recent years in other countries, including New Zealand and the United Kingdom, as well as international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are also working to prioritise the global statistical information base required by countries for international comparability purposes, and to guide societal progress and policy development. The ESA for Australia initiative has benefitted from consideration of these international initiatives, noting that the ESA for Australia initiative has been developed in regard to the Australian context and as a result there are differences between the Australian approach and those adopted elsewhere.

3. For a description of this reporting requirement and the terms of reference, see Impacts and Benefits of COAG Reforms: Reporting Framework, Productivity Commission Research Report, Canberra, December 2010, available on the Productivity Commission website. <Back