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YEAR IN REVIEW: 2020–21
The topics discussed at the Council meetings this year aligned with these objectives, with a particular focus on the coming Census and ongoing data issues related to COVID-19.
In particular, while providing core products and services, the ABS delivered a timely, innovative and collaborative response to demands associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council members were complimentary in their feedback to the ABS on its response to COVID-19, noting its innovative efforts to provide time critical data and constructive ongoing engagement across jurisdictions. This was seen as having led to an increase in confidence and support for the ABS. Of particular note were:
The Council maintained its support for the ABS in its efforts to have its funding increased. It was pleased at the positive outcome from the October 2020 Budget.
2021 CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING
The Council continued to receive updates from the ABS on preparations in the lead up to Census Day on 10 August 2021. In addition to a range of activities and milestones, the Council discussed:
In 2020, the Council made a submission to the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audit of ABS preparedness for the 2021 Census. During 2020–21, the Council was informed by the ABS that recommendations from the ANAO audit had been fully addressed.
With the ABS seeking opportunities to work with big data suppliers, including from the banking and retail sectors, the Council discussed the significant potential for this to create public value while reducing respondent burden. Concerns were nevertheless expressed around:
AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC SERVICE DATA PROFESSIONAL STREAM
The Australian Public Service (APS) Data Professional Stream was established to lift the data capability of the workforce by sourcing, growing and mobilising data expertise across the APS. In September 2020, the Australian Statistician, Dr David Gruen, was appointed as the inaugural Head of the Data Profession.
The Council expressed support for this key capability-building initiative and emphasised the importance of data literacy within the public sector. Members discussed:
Council meetings provide an opportunity for the ABS to receive information and advice about emerging statistical issues across the jurisdictions and sectors represented. In addition to those already identified, members highlighted the following priorities:
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