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Chapter 14 - Extended analysis of statistics
The ABS produces a number of analytical reports that inform the government and the community of social and economic conditions and progress in Australia. Flagship publications released during 2005–06 include:
MEASURES OF AUSTRALIA'S PROGRESS (cat. no. 1370.0)
Measures of Australia's Progress (MAP) is a biennial publication which draws together ABS and other data to paint a picture of national progress over the last decade. It is designed to provide the statistical evidence to allow users – those who formulate and evaluate policy, researchers and the community – to determine whether life in Australia is getting better.
MAP presents a suite of indicators covering many of the areas of life most important to Australia and Australians. Indicators and commentary are presented for the headline dimensions: health; education and training; work; national income; economic hardship; national wealth; housing; productivity; the natural landscape; the air and atmosphere; oceans and estuaries; family, community and social cohesion; crime; and democracy, governance and citizenship.
In addition to these headline dimensions, there is commentary on the supplementary dimensions of: culture and leisure; competitiveness and openness; inflation; communication; and transport. MAP 2006 also includes an article on life satisfaction and measures of progress, plus an article comparing Australia's progress with that in other OECD countries.
AUSTRALIAN ECONOMIC INDICATORS (cat. no. 1350.0)
This is a monthly compendium of key national, state and international economic time series. It also contains feature articles and provides a quarterly review of the economy. In 2005–06, articles published in Australian Economic Indicators (AEI) included:
This monthly flagship publication was first released in 1991. AEI has been in its current format for almost 10 years and a review has recently been completed to assess the format, content and distribution, of a new look AEI which takes account of users' preferences, technology advances and the general trend in statistical offices for fewer, smaller and more streamlined hard copy publications. As a consequence of this review, the publication is to move to a web based product with tables automatically updated as data becomes available. AEI feature articles will be released in a web magazine.
AUSTRALIAN SOCIAL TRENDS (cat. no. 4102.0)
Australian Social Trends (AST) is an annual publication containing articles on contemporary social issues and a range of social indicators that present an overview of some key social trends in the various areas of social concern (such as health, work, and family and community). AST brings together information across a range of areas to address complex social issues. Articles released in the 2005 issue included the following:
There were a number of articles released as part of regular publications, generally highlighting changes that may have an impact on the series. In April 2006, an article 'Australian Exporters, 2005', in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) addressed the compilation of counts of the number of exporters.
Other publications with articles were:
SMALL AREA ESTIMATION
In response to growing demand for small area data among decision makers, the ABS has released a manual to provide a guide to the production, use, quality and validation of small area estimates. This is directed towards practitioners and users of small area data. It is particularly intended to assist in deciding when more complex models justify the extra resources and expertise needed, and when simpler models may be more appropriate.
PERSPECTIVES ON REGIONAL AUSTRALIA
During 2005–06, the ABS released a statistical series on regional Australia focussing on issues such as household expenditure, income and wage and salary earners.
FERTILITY IN NSW
A special article on fertility in NSW was included with the final release of Demography NSW (cat. no. 3311.1.55.001). This article focused on state and sub-state fertility patterns, introducing readers to the definitions of fertility indicators and the availability of fertility data in NSW small areas.
STATE AND REGIONAL INDICATORS, VICTORIA
The quarterly publication, State and Regional Indictors, Victoria (cat. no. 1367.2), contains feature articles which aim to inform and add value to the statistics available for particular topics. Articles produced over the last financial year covered the Victorian population (1836–2005), senior Victorians, Victorian community indicators, and the importance of Indigenous Australian identification in vital statistics.
USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY BY HOUSEHOLDS IN QUEENSLAND
A publication, 1998-2003 Use of information Technology by Households in Queensland (cat. no. 8146.3), was released in May 2006. This publication consolidated, analysed and disseminated different ABS datasets to produce a report on the uptake of computers, Internet and innovative goods in Queensland households during this period.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT PRICE INDEX, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
The South Australian office of the ABS designed a Local Government Price Index (LGPI) for the Local Government Association of South Australia. The LGPI is designed to be a measure of the effect of inflation on prices of goods and services purchased by councils. The LGPI will assist South Australian councils in setting their council rates.
ABS ANALYTICAL CONSULTANCIES
The ABS undertakes analytical consultancies for a range of clients to provide additional information based on ABS statistics. In 2005–06, these included:
ABS looks to enhance the value of the data held and better respond to client needs. A key part of this is to make better use of existing data holdings as well as to tap specialist skills of researchers in other government agencies and academia to assist with the ABS work program. This has happened in the past with projects such as the Australian Census Analytical Program, established for the 2001 Census, and in the work of the Analytical Services Branch with experts in universities.
In 2005, the ABS undertook five trial collaborative projects to explore the scope for engaging researchers to assist the ABS conduct research and analysis of business survey microdata. These operated under strict legislative provisions of the Census and Statistics Act 1905, which requires that such collaborations are supporting the ABS in its statistical activities. For more information about these projects, see chapter 4 on economic statistics.
A review of these trial projects found that there were benefits to both the ABS and the project partners, and there was strong support (from within the ABS and from partners) that such collaborations should continue. However, the review also found there were considerable costs to the ABS, largely ABS staff time, and ABS capacity to undertake such projects would be limited. The ABS will need to further develop and implement policies and procedures, and closely assess the benefits of potential projects, which must be of benefit to the national statistical service consistent with the statistical functions of the ABS, or make a contribution to ABS methodology. Project partners will be required to enter into up-front agreements and may be required to contribute to costs.
The ABS plans to put a statement about collaborations on the ABS web site later in the year, and, following this, proposals from potential partners will be considered.