1002.0 - Australian Statistics Advisory Council - Annual Report, 2015-2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/10/2016   
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THE YEAR AHEAD – 2016–17

ASAC members have agreed on the following issues as Council priorities in 2016-17:


The outcomes of the 2016 Blue Sky Workshop will inform ASAC as it advises the Minister and the ABS on its role in both 2016 and beyond. ASAC’s contribution to the continued reform of Australia’s statistical system will align with the changing data landscape and the need for:

  • Improved data standards
  • New approaches to reduce duplication in creating data
  • Increased access to data
  • Standardised definitions for improved comparability of statistics from different sources
  • Improving sharing and use of non-government and government data sources, and utilising other sources of data.

New approaches will enhance productivity and improve policy making for a better Australia. The Council will actively support ABS in its role going forward in terms of being responsive to government need and deploying capability to optimise data.

ASAC will identify opportunities and strategies to improve the coordination and effectiveness of Australia’s statistical system, supporting initiatives such as:
  • Stronger alignment with, and application of, the UN Fundamental Principles of Statistics by all levels of government in Australia. This should include further discussion and agreement between the Commonwealth and states and territories to maximise the development of administrative data for official statistical purposes through sharing and statistical data integration.
  • All governments working towards establishing governance arrangements for the statistical system, providing coordinating arrangements for data initiatives which highlight both opportunities for, and the obligations of, all parties.


ASAC has traditionally played an important and valuable role in relation to the five yearly Census of Population and Housing. In 2016–17, ASAC continued to assist the ABS in achieving its plans for a digital Census for the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. ASAC was regularly briefed and felt comfortable with directions. Members provided advice and advocated strong support for the Census to encourage participation.


The ABS has implemented a new approach to determining the ABS statistical forward work program, which includes publishing a work program prioritisation document, using a tier categorisation process as part of the 2016-17 Forward Work Program publication. The ABS will be engaging with governments, users and other stakeholders on the prioritisation. Following the consultation, the ABS will seek input from ASAC and the Australian Government into the final determination of the statistical forward work program.

The priorities agreed by ASAC for the ABS Forward Work Program in 2016-17 are:
  • Delivering the Census of Population and Housing – with a predominantly ‘digital first’ approach
  • Delivering and maintaining the quality of key statistics – in particular, managing statistical risk to maintain and improve the quality of key major economic indicators and population statistics
  • Investing in microdata and integrated data – to enhance data use and availability, through initiatives such as Data Integration
  • Transforming the ABS for the future – through the Statistical Business Transformation Program and the broader organisational transformation agenda.

In 2016–17, the Council agrees the need for a continued high priority and low tolerance for risk for the National Accounts, Consumer Price Index, Labour Force Statistics and Estimated Resident Population. The Council will continue to provide the ABS with the benefit of members’ advice on appropriate strategies to manage risk without stifling innovation and collaboration.

ASAC will continue to support the ABS in its case to develop an extensive data integration resource, akin to the New Zealand Integrated Data Infrastructure provided by Statistics New Zealand. The Council sees a need for recognition by government that the ABS is uniquely positioned as an institution to maximise data for public benefit, and that it possesses the appropriate capability to provide this function.

ABS will take action to address the results of the 2016 Stakeholder Relationship Health Assessment over the coming year. The Council will continue to provide feedback on the progress toward improved and effective stakeholder relationships.


ASAC will maintain a watching brief over government data reform agendas, including the outcomes of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Data Availability and Use. The Council will also monitor key data initiatives, particularly at the Commonwealth and State/ Territory level (such as the NSW Data Sharing (Government Sector) Bill, 2015), with a view to maximising opportunities enabled by these.


ASAC will maintain a watching brief over key international statistical systems and international government data reform agendas such as the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) in New Zealand, the United Kingdom approach to better use of government data through data sharing and the digital economy, the progress of review of the New Zealand Statistics Act (1975), and the Peer Review Report on Sweden’s National Statistical System (2015), to identify potential benefits applicable to Australia’s statistical system.