1308.7 - Inform NT, Mar 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/03/2009  First Issue
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In the later half of 2008, the ABS established the Northern Australia Unit (NAU) to position the ABS to better respond to recent policy and service delivery approaches in the diverse region of Northern Australia. The NAU brings together knowledge and experience in enumeration practices of both the Census and ABS Household surveys, particularly in remote areas and discrete Indigenous communities. Its objective is to share resources and reduce duplication and to work toward building partnerships with governments, other ABS offices, and community organisations that have an interest in the region.

Based in the ABS NT Office, the NAU comprises a number of responsibilities, including Demography, Consumer Price Index and the NT Census, and looks at a range of issues including the Northern Australia Enumeration Strategy, the Indigenous Enumeration Strategy and the Census Enumeration Strategy.

Northern Australia spans more than 3 million square kilometres and represents numerous challenges and opportunities; in areas such as the environment, water and natural resources, art, culture, heritage and tourism, opportunities arising from the proximity to Asia and the Pacific, and a range of Indigenous issues.

Understanding and servicing this region effectively has proved logistically-challenging, not just for the ABS but for other Federal service providers. In July 2008, the new Australian Government established an Office of Northern Australia (ONA), operating within the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. The ONA’s purpose is to facilitate the provision of high-level policy advice on a range of sustainable development, economic, social and environmental issues affecting major projects and development in Northern Australia.

The ONA defines Northern Australia as being everything above the Tropic of Capricorn and represents a growing trend by many agencies to implement organisational structures and administrative arrangements that are not bound by state borders.

For logistical and operational reasons, the NAU defines Northern Australia more broadly as “everything above the Tropic of Capricorn but including the whole of the Northern Territory”. The ABS definition comprises the following Statistical Divisions: Pilbara; Kimberley; Darwin; NT - Balance; Far North (Qld); Northern (Qld); North West (Qld); Central West (Qld); Mackay; and Fitzroy.

Northern Australia Map

Diagram: NAU SD Map

The Northern Australia region has no major cities as defined under the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), and consists of predominately outer-regional and remote or very remote areas. The region has a large Indigenous population, many of whom live outside major urban centres.

The ABS NAU hopes to develop and maintain useful working relationships with a range of internal and external stakeholders to help inform policy development, implementation and assessment in Northern Australia.