1304.5 - Stats Talk WA, Sep 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/09/2008   
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A View From The Top
From the Regional Director

Last month I had a long conversation with the administrator of an aboriginal community in the north of the state about the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS). His community had been randomly selected to participate in the survey and his elders were not feeling particularly cooperative. The survey obtains information from about 10,000 Indigenous people around Australia and provides invaluable data on a range of social issues facing our Indigenous population today.

This administrator suggested that they had been chosen because they are a well run community. He said that they had seen a procession of Commonwealth and State bureaucrats over the last 2 years to collect data and asked why couldn't we just ask them. He pointed out that there was a lot of data taken away but not much given back. He said that despite all of this, nothing much had changed and that answering our questions wouldn’t change this. He made some good points and I took a few lessons away.

• We need to clearly maintain the independence of the ABS from the political process to maintain public confidence in our statistics.
• Government needs to collect and share data more efficiently.
• We need to get information back to the community to help them plan for themselves.
• While we can’t guarantee that things will change, we can guarantee that information is available to make quality, informed decisions.

We would do well to remember these lessons across all areas of statistics.

The NATSISS survey results will be out in mid 2010.

Michael Tindall,
Government Statistician and
ABS Regional Director,
Western Australia