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Community Indicator Frameworks
A key function of the ABS offices located in each state is to provide statistical support to state government. In recent years state governments generally have become increasingly interested in indicator frameworks which provide measures of the well-being of the community as a whole or of important groups and regions within the state. The ABS regional offices have provided support to the development of these indicator frameworks and to the provision of data to "populate" the frameworks.
The nature and extent of this activity has varied across the states depending upon the approach being followed by each state government. For example, in Tasmania the "Tasmania Together" initiative provides a set of objectives and measures of progress across all areas of community interest. In Western Australia, frameworks have been developed for reporting on particular groups such as the Aged (the Active Ageing Benchmark Indicators) and the Indigenous (the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report). Other states are at different stages with different areas of emphasis in their indicator frameworks. The ABS has provided support tailored to the particular needs of each state government.
Recently, the various ABS regional offices met to share experiences in supporting state indicator frameworks, to identify common data requirements and to clarify the future role for the ABS in these initiatives. In reporting on WA activity we noted that, in addition to providing assistance for specific frameworks, ABS was working with state agencies on a more coordinated approach. This project is based on using the ABS@WAGov "consultancy container" to store indicator frameworks with the aim of reducing costs and duplication in effort in maintaining and accessing data across frameworks. Also, the sharing of indicator frameworks and metadata that describes the indicators should lead to improvements in data quality. More information on this project is provided later in this newsletter.
Indicator frameworks which clarify the objectives of government policy and provide objective measures of progress are likely to remain a focus of government interest. The ABS aims to provide ongoing practical assistance with these state government projects.
Statistical Analysis for the State
In our quarterly publication "WA Statistical Indicators" the ABS aims to provide a comprehensive range of statistics relating to the state population and the economy. In addition to the tables of statistical data the publication includes explanatory articles which provide a statistical perspective on topics of interest. Recent articles have covered the skills shortage in WA and an analysis of youth in regional areas. The article on the skills shortage attracted considerable media attention with some commentary critical of the ABS analysis.
While we strive to be objective in our analytical articles it may be inevitable that articles dealing with current and high profile issues will at times attract contrary views. The ABS mission includes encouraging informed discussion in the community and in this regard it is important that we aim to contribute on important and topical issues.