1301.6.55.001 - Tasmanian Statistical News, Dec 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2009   
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From the Regional Director's desk...
News from the Environment and Agriculture Business Statistics Centre
2011 - Centenary year of the Housing and Population Census
ABS to host GIS Workshop
New edition of Australian Social Trends
Hot Topics
Spotlight on Health
Upcoming training and events


Senator the Hon. Nick Sherry recently visited the Tasmanian ABS Office. In his ministerial capacity, Senator Sherry assists with the development, implementation and administration of policies within the Treasurer's portfolio. This includes the Treasurer's responsibility for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Included in Senator Sherry's visit itinerary was: a briefing meeting with the Regional ABS Director and executive staff; a presentation of spatial data outputs from the Agricultural Census; and a demonstration of assistance provided by the ABS to the State of Tasmania through the State and Territory Statistical Services Program.

ABS officer Louise Hawker attended the 3rd OECD World Forum on ‘Statistics, Knowledge and Policy’, held in Busan, Korea from 27-30 October 2009. Prior to her attendance at the World Forum, Louise had been coordinating statistical support for the Office of the Tasmanian Social Inclusion Commissioner.


The Environment and Agriculture Business Statistics Centre (BSC) in Hobart is busy processing data from the Agricultural Survey 2009, with the aim of releasing final estimates earlier than ever before, in April 2010.

Vineyards Estimates, Australia (ABS cat. no. 1329.0.55.002) was released in October 2009 with small area production and area data available with the publication for the first time.

The monthly grain publications of Stocks of Grain Held by Bulk Grain Handling Companies and Grain Traders, Australia (ABS cat. no. 7122.0.55.001) and Wheat Use and Stocks, Australia (ABS cat. no. 7307.0) contained additional data for barley and selected other grains and pulses relating to the September 2009 quarter. These additional data will be attached to these releases quarterly over the next year.

The monthly livestock publication, Livestock and Meat, Australia (ABS cat. no. 7218.0.55.001) now has state/territory time series data available for the major commodities, and the September quarter 2009 release of Livestock and Meat, Australia (ABS cat. no. 7215.0) was released on the ABS website.

Since our last update, the BSC has nearly signed-off on the data collected from the benchmark Land Management Practices Survey of land owners in the Great Barrier Reef catchments. These data will be released in Land Management Practices in the Great Barrier Reef Catchment, 2008-09 (ABS cat. no. 4619.0), on 22 December 2009.

The BSC is currently reviewing the format of its publications and how it can ensure that data users of all abilities are able to access and understand environmental and agricultural data. To make contributions to this review process, phone (03) 6222 5846 or email agriculture.statistics@abs.gov.au.

The next Census of Population and Housing will take place on 7 August 2011. This will mark one hundred years since the first census was conducted by the Commonwealth of Australia on the night of 2 April 1911. The 1911 Census Form contained fourteen questions related to each individual and a further seven questions related to the individual's dwellings. Many of the questions from the 1911 Census Form - such as age, marital status and religion - are still asked today.

Further Censuses were held in 1921 and 1933, but the scheduled Census for 1941 was postponed due to Australia's involvement in the Second World War. The first post-war Census was taken in 1947 after an interval of 14 years. It played an important role in redirecting Australia's attention in the aftermath of the war. Previous censuses had concentrated on basic aspects such as materials used in building houses. However, with advances in technology, Census questions began to focus on the facilities contained within a house such as whether houses were supplied with gas, electricity and water as well as toilet, washing and cooking facilities.

Since the 1961 Census, Australia has taken a Census every five years. Following the 1967 Referendum, the 1971 Census saw the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the count, and their inclusion in the official population estimates for the first time.

The 2001 Census Form included questions about people’s use of computers, their ancestry and whether they wished to participate in the Centenary of Federation Time Capsule project to commemorate one hundred years of Federation.

Preparations for the 2011 Census began even before the 2006 Census was conducted. Officers from the ABS in Tasmania have been busy meeting with state and local government, gathering local intelligence and sharing ideas for addressing challenges in field collection. The mammoth task of designing Census collector workloads around the state has also begun. In order to design roughly equal workloads which takes account of population shifts since the 2006 Census, contact with various government agency planning areas, real estate companies, property developers and other holders of information to discuss impacts on dwelling counts is progressively occurring.

For further information contact tasmania.statistics@abs.gov.au or check out our 2011 Census of Population and Housing Local & Regional Engagement Strategy brochure (ABS cat. no. 2911.0.55.001).

Place-based statistical data is playing an increasingly important role in policy-making decisions.

One of the recent initiatives that the Tasmanian Regional Office of the ABS has undertaken to ensure that it is actively involved at all levels in this space, is to organise an all-day Geographic Information Systems (GIS) forum to be held at the ABS on December 16, 2009.

The major focus of this forum will be on sharing learnings on the GIS front, including the successful use of maps in areas of interest, and projects currently underway. This is an opportunity to share the tips and traps of GIS as well as helping cross-pollination across agency projects.

The keynote presentation will be by Greg Pole from Queensland who will be sharing his experiences of the Community Services Information System (COMSIS) which was developed by the Office of Economic and Statistical Research (OESR), as part of the Department of Communities' commitment to the Queensland Compact. COMSIS provides a single comprehensive source of local, regional and state-wide data for over 200 data-sets, including data on demography, education, employment, family, housing, income, remoteness and disadvantage.

It will also include presentations by the Department of Infrastructures and Energy Resources on the State Infrastructure Planning System (SIPS) and by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment on the Land and Information Systems Tasmania (LIST).

The ABS released the latest edition of Australian Social Trends (ABS cat. no. 4102.0) on 10 December 2009. The publication draws together a wide range of statistics from the ABS and other official sources to provide a picture of Australian society and how it is changing over time.

The latest edition features six articles:
  • Patterns in work
  • Living alone
  • Jobless families
  • Smoking, risky drinking and obesity
  • Preschool attendance
  • International comparisons

The release also includes indicator spreadsheets presenting national and state summary data on housing and family and community as well as summary data comparing Australia with a number of other countries on a range of population, health, education and labour indicators.

The publication shows that:
  • Tasmanians are more likely to live in separate houses than in apartments or townhouses compared to people in other states and territories. In 2007-08, 90% of private dwellings in Tasmania were separate houses, compared with 78% nationally. Tasmania also had the lowest rate of private renting in Australia (17% in 2007-08 compared with a national average of 24%).
  • The average loan for first home buyers in Tasmania more than doubled from $86,000 to $191,400 in the decade to 2009. However, the average first home loan in Tasmania in 2009 was still the lowest of all states and territories and well below the national average of $269,000.
  • Children in Tasmania were more likely than those in the rest of the country to be living in single-parent families. In 2008, 22.5% of Tasmanian children aged under 15 years were living in single parent families, compared with a national average of 18.2%. The proportion in Tasmania has increased slightly over the past ten years (up from 19.3% in 1998) in contrast to the national rate which has slightly declined (down from 19.5% in 1998).
  • The proportion of couple families in Tasmania with children aged under 15 years in which neither parent was employed has halved in the decade to 2008 (from 12.1% to 6.1%), reflecting a nationwide trend.
  • In 2008, the fertility rate in Tasmania was 2.2, this rate was similar to the Northern Territory rate and slightly higher than those of Queensland and Western Australia.

Diagram: Hot TopicsHOT TOPICS

Bushfire Awareness: are you prepared to survive the bushfire season?

South-eastern Australia, including Tasmania, is one of the most vulnerable bushfire areas in the world. Experts have warned that the bushfire threat and fuel load this summer are similar to those experienced prior to the devastating 1967 bushfires in southern Tasmania. Those fires: claimed 62 lives; injured 900; left 7,000 people homeless and destroyed 1,293 homes.

Further information about the 1967 bushfires in southern Tasmania is available on the Emergency Management Australia Disasters Database: http://www.ema.gov.au/ema/emaDisasters.nsf

In 2008-09, a total of 1,899 bushfires were reported in Tasmania. Bushfires accounted for 44% of the fires attended by the Tasmania Fire Service, while the Parks and Wildlife Service or Forestry Tasmania were the sole respondent to 48 bushfire incidents. Three days of Total Fire Ban were declared in Tasmania, and 25 days of fire weather warnings were issued by the Bureau of Meteorology.

The Tasmania Fire Service, the Parks and Wildlife Service, and Forestry Tasmania work cooperatively and share resources to protect lives, property and the environment in our state. In 2008-09 the Tasmania Fire Service provided 233 brigades throughout Tasmania, with 5,370 volunteers and career staff.

The National Bushfire Warnings Taskforce, established following the Victorian bushfires of February 2009, has developed a new fire danger ratings (FDR) system for bushfires, with recommended actions you should take in the event of a bushfire:


Catastrophic 100+ Leaving is the ONLY safe option for your survival - regardless of any plan to stay and defend.
Extreme 75-99 Leaving is the safest option for your survival.
Severe 50-74 Leaving is the safest option for your survival. Only stay if your home is well prepared and you can actively defend it.
Very High 25-49 Only stay if your home is well prepared and you can actively defend it.
High 12-24 Know where to get more information and monitor the situation for any changes.
Low-moderate 0-11 Know where to get more information and monitor the situation for any changes.

During the bushfire season, fire danger ratings forecast for Tasmania will be available on the Bureau of Meteorology website, the Tasmania Fire Service website and on the weather page of Tasmania’s daily newspapers.

Further information is available on the Tasmania Fire Service website: http://www.fire.tas.gov.au

Population counts for Tasmania

In December 2008, Tasmania celebrated as the population reached the significant milestone of 500,000 people. The symbolic half-millionth person was drawn from a box containing entries from 108 newborns and 72 migrants who arrived in Tasmania between 8-18 December 2008. But why could we simply not identify the lucky person on the spot? Why was it so difficult to pinpoint the exact 500,000th Tasmanian on a precise day?

To explain this, we must first examine how the population is counted. There are different types of population counts: Estimated Resident Population (ERP) and Census counts.

The Estimated Resident Population is Australia's official population measure. As its name suggests, the Estimated Resident Population is an estimate. This estimate is based on the five yearly Population and Housing Census counts of usual residents that are then adjusted to account for usual residents missed in the Census, including residents estimated to have been temporarily overseas on Census night. Further adjustments are made for births, deaths and net migration in the period from the date of the estimate to Census Night.

The Estimated Resident Population is updated quarterly between censuses using data from birth and death registrations, overseas arrivals and departures, and estimates of interstate migration. These quarterly estimates are revised each time a population census is conducted.

While the Estimated Resident Population is the most accurate count of the population, it does not allow individuals to be identified. The Australian Bureau of Statistics prides itself on the confidentiality of its data, so any attempt to identify the exact 500,000th individual was always going to be a highly improbable mission. We could narrow down the likely time period in which the 500,000 Tasmanian might arrive (8-18 December 2008), but it was up to the effects of randomisation to decide the lucky winner of the title, that is drawing the name of Tasmania's half-millionth person out of a box!

Further information is available in Australian Demographic Statistics (ABS cat. no. 3101.0). This is the authoritative and most up to date source for all things related to Estimated Resident Population for states and territories. According to the latest Tasmanian population estimates for June 2009, our population has continued to grow, with a total of 502,627 persons now resident in Tasmania: 254,685 (50.7%) females and 247,942 (49.3%) males. The total population grew by 5,100 (1.0%) between June 2008 and June 2009. Natural increase was the major component of growth for the year ended 30 June 2009 , representing 0.5%, with net interstate migration accounting for 0.1% and net overseas migration 0.4%.

Tasmania's total fertility rate at highest level since 1974

In 2008, 6,775 births were registered in Tasmania. This was an increase of 1.7% from 2007.

Tasmania's total fertility rate increased from 1.81 babies per woman in 2000 to 2.24 babies per woman in 2008. This is the highest rate recorded since 1974!

It is also noteworthy that the change from 1.81 to 2.24 crosses the somewhat magical 2.1 threshold which is the replacement level.

Across all states and territories, Tasmania had one of the lowest median ages for parents - second only to the Northern Territory.

The median age of mothers in Tasmania was 29.2 years, and 31.9 years for fathers, compared to the median age of Australian mothers of 30.7 years and 33.1 years for fathers.

Approximately 50% of all births in Tasmania were to women not in a registered marriage. This is the second highest of all states and territories, with the Northern Territory being the highest at approximately 63%.

Further information is available in Births, Australia, 2008 (ABS cat. no. 3301.0).

More Tasmanians with Certificate III plus qualifications

Based on the May 2009 Survey of Education and Work, an estimated 43.8% of Tasmanians aged 15-64 years have qualifications at the Certificate III level or higher.

This compares with the estimate of 33.4% from the 2001 Survey of Education and Work.

In May 2009, an estimated 61,500 Tasmanians aged 15-64 years were enrolled in a course of study.

Of these an estimated 19,800 were attending a higher education institution, 18,800 were at school, 14,300 at a Technical and Further Education college, and 8,600 were at other educational institutions.

Further information is available in Education and Work, Australia, May 2009 (ABS cat. no. 6227.0).

Toyota tops on the Tasmanian Motor Vehicle Register

There were 400,516 motor vehicles, including motor cycles,on the Tasmanian Motor Vehicle register at 31 March 2009.

Of these, 21.2% were manufactured by Toyota, 14.0% by Holden and 12.9% by Ford.

Of all registered vehicles, 71.4% were passenger vehicles and 20.4% were light commercial vehicles.

The fleet includes 85,845 vehicles manufactured before 1991.

Further information is available in Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, 31 Mar 2009 (ABS cat. no. 9309.0).

Diagram: Spotlight on HealthSPOTLIGHT ON HEALTH

Obesity on the rise in Tasmania

The Tasmania Together Progress Board recently updated its Online Benchmark Reports (OBR) on Tasmanians who are overweight or obese. The update was sourced from unpublished estimates from the 2007-08 National Health Survey (NHS) and is the third progress measurement in the benchmark series beginning with estimates from the 2001 NHS. The new information confirms a trend that shows an increase in the proportion of Tasmanians reporting a body mass index (BMI) in the obese range. The estimate from the 2001 NHS was that 16.4% of adult Tasmanians had reported a BMI in the obese range. By the time of the 2004-05 NHS this estimate had risen to 19.4%. The latest estimate, from the 2007-08 NHS, is 22.5%. For more information on the OBR reports visit http://www.tasmaniatogether.tas.gov.au/obr#. The forthcoming issue (due for release 29 January 2010) of Tasmanian State and Regional Indicators (ABS cat. no. 1307.6) will contain a special article on the NHS BMI estimates including estimates of measured BMI.

How active are our Children?

An estimated 61.0% of Tasmanian children aged 5-14 years participated in organised sports and/or dancing outside of school hours during the twelve months prior to interview in April 2009, compared with 68.7% nationally.

This was the lowest participation rate of all states and territories.

The most popular organised sports in Tasmania were outdoor soccer (19.1%), swimming (14.6%) and Australian Rules football (10.0%). Dancing attracted 8.6% of children in this age group.

The most popular recreational activities were watching TV, DVDs or videos (98.1%), spending time on any screen-based activities apart from watching TV, DVDs or videos (82.9%) and reading for pleasure (77.2%). More active recreational pursuits, such as bike riding, attracted more than two thirds (68.6%) of children aged 5-14 years, while skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter had a participation rate of 40.9%.

Further information is available in Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia (ABS cat. no. 4901.0).

Diabetes: the modern epidemic

Saturday 14 November 2009 marked World Diabetes Day. Diabetes is recognised as one of the fastest growing chronic disease in Australia. According to the 2001 National Health Survey (NHS) an estimated 554,200 Australians had diabetes mellitus. By the time of the 2007-08 NHS the estimate of Australians with this condition had jumped to 818,200, an increase of 48%.

According to the 2007-08 NHS, 3.8% of the Tasmanian population suffered from diabetes mellitis. The prevalence of diabetes in the Tasmanian population was greater among older people and males: an estimated 81% of diabetes sufferers in Tasmania were aged 55 years or more, while males account for an estimated 57% of all people with the disease.

Diabetes Australia identifies diabetes as a major cause of premature death and chronic disability, but it can be prevented or delayed by maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. Key risk factors in developing type 2 diabetes include being overweight or obese, poor diet and inactivity. It is of critical concern that 2007-08 National Health Survey estimates showed high proportions of Tasmanians aged 18 years and over who fall into these high risk categories:

  • 63.9% were measured as overweight or obese;
  • 72.7% engaged in sedentary/low level exercise; and
  • 88.8% consumed inadequate amounts of fruit or vegetables.

To reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Diabetes Australia recommends adopting a healthy diet and increasing physical activity.

Further information is available in the National Health Survey: Summary of Results; State Tables 2007-08 (ABS cat. no. 4362.0) or visit the Diabetes Australia website: http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/.

What's on your mind?

October was Anxiety and Depression Awareness Month, focusing attention on mental health issues, with the aim of raising awareness and helping to reduce stigma associated with these conditions. Mental illness is wide ranging and affects many people in our society, be they sufferers, carers, colleagues, family or friends. It includes conditions such as depression, postnatal depression, anxiety disorder, psychosis, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and bipolar mood disorder. So let's look at how Tasmanians are coping with the increasing pressures of modern day living.

Of people aged 18 years and over in Tasmania in 2007-08, an estimated 11.0% reported high or very high levels of current psychological distress. More females (12.4%) than males (9.5%) reported this level of distress, with the highest rate among young females, aged 18-24 (22.2% with high or very high levels of distress). Middle-age peaks were evident among both females and males, with 14.7% of females and 12.6% of males aged 45-54 years and 14.0% of females and 12.3% of males aged 55-64 years reporting high or very high levels of distress.

Of persons with a mental health condition, an estimated 41.5% had used medications for their mental health condition, 33.9% had taken days away from work, school or study, while 26.9% had consulted an "other" health professional.

Further information is available in the National Health Survey: Summary of Results; State Tables 2007-08 (ABS cat. no. 4362.0) or visit the beyondblue website: http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?.

Death rate remains steady in Tasmania

There were 4,219 deaths registered in Tasmania in 2008, approximately 87 (2%) more than the number registered in 2007 (4,132).

The standardised death rate (SDR) has remained at 6.9 deaths per 1,000 standard population in 2008, the same as the rate in 2007.

The infant mortality rate in Tasmania in 2008 was 3.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births.

The median age of registered deaths for males in Tasmania in 2008 was 78.1 years, up by three years on the 1998 median of 75.0 years.

A similar outcome for females has seen the median age of death rise from 80.9 years of age in 1998 to 83.3 years of age in 2008.

Further information is available in Deaths, Australia, 2008 (ABS cat. no. 3302.0).


Diagram: NatStats 2010 ConferenceNatStats 2010 Conference

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will be hosting another NatStats Conference at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour on 15 - 17 September 2010.

NatStats 2010 will build on the enthusiasm and passion generated by delegates at NatStats08 and aims to build stronger links with key stakeholders, strengthen the understanding of statistical issues within and across governments, and consolidate support for current and emerging statistical initiatives.

An exciting program is being developed and will address a range of issues regarding national statistics. If you would like to hear more about NatStats 2010 Conference, or have any suggestions, please email natstats@nss.gov.au.

Turning Data into Information

Overview: Develops skills in interpreting and analysing data and communicating information clearly and effectively. Analytical thinking enables data to be transformed into meaningful information. Relevant messages are extracted to meet objectives. Understanding the issue, analysis tools and techniques, clearly presenting conclusions.

Format: 2 day workshop

Who should attend: People working with data who wish to extract relevant information and communicate that information to a variety of audiences, e.g. through written reports.

Course Outcomes: Understanding how the collection and compilation of data affect its usefulness, quality and relevance. Ability to draw conclusions from the analysis, to communicate results effectively, and to present tables and graphs. Recognise possible pitfalls in analysis.

Cost: $750 (inc. GST) per person

Date: Early 2010

Venue: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 200 Collins Street, Hobart

If you wish to enrol or want more information please email: tasmania.statistics@abs.gov.au.