1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics - Annual Report, 2018-19  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/10/2019   
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ABS at a glance

Over the 2018-19 financial year the ABS had:

    • 14,296,234 visits to the ABS website
    • 2,219,129 downloads of ABS products
    • 496 statistical products released
    • 1,384,664 TableBuilder, Population Census Pro and other data sessions
    • 36,486 calls to the National Information and Referral Service
    • 18,856 emails to the National Information and Referral Service
    • 6,589 DataLab sessions
    • a total of 200,040 ABS social media followers:
      • 100,263 Facebook
      • 78,721 Twitter
      • 14,989 LinkedIn
      • 4,622 Instagram
      • 1,445 Youtube

Our purpose

The ABS purpose is to inform Australia’s important decisions by partnering and innovating to deliver relevant, trusted and objective data, statistics and insights.

To achieve our purpose during 2018–19, the ABS has focused on three priorities to meet Australia’s contemporary and emerging statistical needs:

    • providing high quality official statistics
    • transforming the ABS for the future
    • delivering new statistical solutions to maximise the value of public data.
Our highest priority is to deliver high quality official statistics. To ensure that we deliver relevant, trusted and objective statistics, we are transforming the ABS and partnering with our stakeholders to innovate, develop and implement new statistical solutions.

What we do

The ABS is Australia’s national statistical agency, providing trusted official statistics on a wide range of economic, social, population and environmental matters of importance to Australia.

The ABS also has an important leadership role, coordinating statistical activities and collaborating with official bodies in the collection, compilation, analysis and distribution of statistics. In addition, the ABS provides technical advice and assistance to the Australian and state and territory governments in relation to statistics, the development of standards, and helps to ensure compliance with those standards.

Our plan

The ABS Corporate Plan outlines the purpose, role, values and culture, objectives, operating environment, capability, risk oversight, and performance framework of the ABS. It can be found on the ABS website.

Our stakeholders

Maintaining the support of official bodies and people within our authorising environment, including the Government, government agencies, and regulatory authorities, is critical for the ABS to achieve its purpose. Maintaining our social licence – the trust of the community – is also equally important to our ability to deliver high quality statistics. The ABS relies on business and the community to provide critically important data. Actions by the ABS or other entities that erode the trust of data providers directly undermines our efforts to collect this information and produce quality statistics.

The ABS’ success relies upon demonstrating to the community and business that we can be trusted to protect their confidential and private data and deliver reliable statistical information.

Our commitment to build and maintain strong partnerships with our stakeholders is central to our ability to deliver our purpose. This commitment drives the ABS to find innovative ways to work with data providers to inform our work while also guiding us to identify relevant statistical information of real value to their businesses. We have continued to seek ways to more effectively use the wealth of existing government and non-government information to more efficiently deliver useful insights, and as much as possible, reduce provider burden on businesses and households.

Privacy is increasingly important to the Australian community, especially in light of well publicised breaches by both public and private sector entities. The ABS has continued to invest in processes and technology to maintain the secrecy of the information provided to us, as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905, alongside meeting the additional requirements of the Privacy Act 1988.

Responsible Ministers

As part of the Treasury portfolio, the ABS maintains a close relationship with the Department of the Treasury and the responsible Minister, while acting independently and objectively to provide official statistics and exercise our legislative powers. The Statement of Expectations for the ABS outlines the Australian Government’s expectations of us and our Statement of Intent outlines how we will meet those expectations.1

During 2018–19, the Hon. Michael Sukkar MP, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer and Federal Member for Deakin, was responsible for the ABS until late August 2018. The Hon. Stuart Robert MP, Assistant Treasurer and Federal Member for Fadden, was then given responsibility, which he retained until 29 May 2019. The Hon Michael Sukkar MP has since resumed responsibility for the ABS.

Photo of Hon. Michael Sukkar. Assistant Minister to the Treasurer
Photo of Hon. Stuart Robert. Assistant Treasurer
Hon. Michael Sukkar MP,
Assistant Minister to the Treasurer and
Federal Member for Deakin
Hon. Stuart Robert MP,
Assistant Treasurer and Federal
Member for Fadden

Enabling legislation

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 and the Census and Statistics Act 1905 set out the primary functions, duties and powers of the ABS.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 establishes the ABS as an independent statutory authority, with Section 6(1) describing the six functions of the ABS to:

  • constitute the central statistical authority for the Australian Government and provide services for the state and territory governments
  • collect, compile, analyse and disseminate statistics and related information
  • ensure coordination of the operations of official bodies in the collection, compilation and dissemination of statistics and related information
  • develop standards for statistics and ensure compliance
  • give advice and assistance to official bodies in relation to statistics
  • provide liaison between Australia, other countries and international organisations on statistical issues.

The Census and Statistics Act 1905:
  • empowers the Australian Statistician to collect statistical information on a broad range of demographic, economic, environmental and social topics
  • enables the Australian Statistician to direct a person to provide statistical information, in which case they are legally obliged to do so
  • requires the ABS to publish the results of these statistical collections
  • places a life-long obligation on all ABS officers to maintain the secrecy of information collected under the Act, and provides harsh penalties for those who fail to do so.

The Census and Statistics Regulation 2016 prescribes the types of statistical information that the ABS is authorised to collect and other administrative matters permitted by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

The Census and Statistics (Information Release and Access) Determination 2018 repealed the Statistics Determination 1983 on 15 November 2018. The remake enables this legislation to better meet the needs of users by providing a more enabling framework for the safe and secure release of information: specifically, detailed statistical information pertaining to businesses and organisations. Commitments to the confidentiality of personal information have been retained.

The ABS is subject to the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, which establishes a coherent system of governance and accountability for public resources, with an emphasis on planning, performance and reporting. The ABS is also subject to the Public Service Act 1999 – the principal Act governing the establishment and operation of, and employment in, the Australian Public Service (APS) – and is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982, Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 and the Privacy Act 1988.

On 1 July 2018 the Australian Government Agencies Privacy Code commenced, setting out requirements for agencies’ compliance with Australian Privacy Principle 1.2 of the Privacy Act 1988. The code requires the ABS to adopt an approach to privacy governance that will build a consistent, high standard of personal information management.

Accountable authority and organisational structure

The ABS is led by the Australian Statistician – a statutory office established by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975. Mr David W. Kalisch was the Australian Statistician and accountable authority throughout 2018-19. Mr Kalisch was first appointed to the position on 11 December 2014.

The ABS is supported by a dynamic and responsive organisational structure, comprising statistical, corporate and data services that enable the agency to deliver its role and functions (see Figure 2.1 below).

ABS Portfolio Budget Statement outcome and program

The ABS Portfolio Budget Statement outlines a single outcome for the agency:

Decisions on important matters made by governments, business and the broader community are informed by objective, relevant and trusted official statistics produced through the collection and integration of data, its analysis, and the provision of statistical information.

The ABS’ program contributes to the outcome through delivery of high-quality statistical information to inform discussion of Australia’s most important issues and through engaging with users within government, business and the community to ensure they have confidence in the statistical resources available to enable them to make informed decisions.

Economic statistics are produced predominantly from data collected through the ABS business survey program as well as administrative data sources. They include an extensive range of statistical outputs relating to the structure and performance of the Australian economy.

Population and social statistics are produced from data collected through the ABS household survey program as well as administrative data. They include statistical information relating to the Australian population, including Census and demographic statistics, as well as information relating to the social and economic wellbeing of the population.

An outline of how the ABS has met its program deliverables for 2018–19 is provided in the Annual Performance Statement.

The ABS’ Portfolio Budget Statement, which outlines the organisation’s outcome, program and deliverables, is available on the Treasury website.


    1. https://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/Home/ABS+Statements+of+Expectations+and+Intent?opendocument