3131.0 - Demography Working Paper 2002/1 - Overseas Arrivals and Departures Statistics Dissemination Plan, 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/08/2002   
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1. ABS is seeking comments from organisations and individuals that use monthly overseas arrivals and departures (OAD) statistics as to the future dissemination plan with the return to monthly release of final data based on incoming and outgoing passenger cards. Two options are presented with indicative timetables. Comments are required by 15 August 2002 with the view of implementing a decision from the July 2002 reference month issue in mid September 2002. Comments on the proposals in this paper may be sent direct to Catherine Owen at catherine.owen@abs.gov.au or by telephoning (02) 6252 5640.


2. There have been significant delays in the receipt of final OAD data from August 2000 onwards from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA). Because of the use of OAD data in population estimates which affects State and Territory Government funding, DIMIA has given priority to processing passenger cards for July 2001 and subsequent months before finalising processing for earlier months (August 2000 through to June 2001).

3. Final data for July 2001 to March 2002 have been published, and data for the period April 2002 to June 2002 will be released on 15 August 2002. The release of this data will bring the processing of 2002 final data up to date, and it is anticipated that subsequent final data will be released on a monthly basis. Final data for July 2002 is expected to be published around mid-September 2002.

4. Data from the earlier period (August 2000 to June 2001) is now starting to become available, with data for the September quarter 2000 to be released on 8 August 2002. Firm release dates for other outstanding quarters will be announced by the ABS when known on the Demography Theme page on the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au>, then select Themes/Demography; in future issues of Overseas Arrivals and Departures (ABS Cat No 3401.0); and in the electronic Release Advice issued daily on the ABS web site.

5. With the processing of the backlog of overseas arrivals and departures data now well underway, and in particular the 2001-02 financial year data nearing completion (providing the opportunity of comparisons of current month/quarter with the corresponding period last year), the ABS is seeking to review its dissemination practices and develop an appropriate strategy and timetable for the ongoing monthly release of OAD data.


6. In the past, the ABS has released preliminary estimates of short term overseas visitor arrivals as well as final estimates of all overseas arrivals and departures. The preliminary estimates of visitor arrivals by country of residence are based on data from DIMIA’s Travel and Immigration Processing System (TRIPS). The TRIPS system produces a limited range of data, including country of citizenship, which is used by ABS to produce preliminary estimates by country of usual residence.

7. Persons arriving in, or departing from, Australia provide information in the form of incoming and outgoing passenger cards. Incoming persons also provide information in visa applications, apart from people travelling as Australian and New Zealand citizens. These and other information available to DIMIA serve as a source for final statistics of OAD.

8. Preliminary estimates are produced using a model that uses TRIPS data for the reference month and the relationships between TRIPS data and passenger card data that have been observed in the past. The model implicitly assumes that, within each month, certain relationships observed in the past remain true today, in particular the relationships between country of citizenship and country of residence, the proportion of arrivals from each country who are overseas visitors and the proportion of arrivals from each country who are Australian residents, and the proportion of arrivals from each country who are short term travellers.

9. Since complete time series of final data is not available after July 2000, the current model for preliminary estimates uses historic data for the financial years 1997-2000. It is expected that relationships between the modelled variables would have changed over the past two years. Hence, some increase in the difference between preliminary and final data may be observed in most recent periods.


10. In the past (ie. prior to the changes to the passenger card processing system), preliminary estimates of short-term visitor arrivals were published approximately 6 to 7 weeks after the end of the reference month, with final estimates of both arrivals and departures published approximately 10 to 11 weeks after the end of the reference month. This was achieved through the production of a single monthly publication, which contained both preliminary and final data (albeit for different reference months). Over the past 2 years, during which final estimates have been unavailable, the ABS has continued to release preliminary estimates of short-term visitor arrivals in a 'mini' publication and associated electronic releases within 3 to 4 weeks following the end of the reference month. Final data are released in quarterly supplementary publications and electronic releases as it becomes available.

11. Under DIMIA's new passenger card processing system and anticipated timetable for receipt of data from DIMA, it is estimated that the ABS will be able to release final data approximately 6 to 7 weeks following the end of the reference month. For example, June 2002 data is scheduled for release on 15 August 2002, an improvement of around 4 weeks over the timeframe that was being achieved under the previous passenger card processing system.

12. It is ABS' intention to release data as promptly as possible. In addition, previous client feedback and available ABS resources support releasing a single publication each month. The times at which preliminary and final data become available will no longer coincide in a manner which supports releasing of the preliminary data for the reference month in a publication containing final data for the earlier month. Accordingly, the ABS is seeking comments on the following two options.

    a.ABS to release final data on a monthly basis, approximately 6 to 7 weeks after the reference month. Release of preliminary short-term visitor arrivals data to cease.
    b. ABS to continue to release preliminary data 3 to 4 weeks after the reference month together with final data for one month earlier than the reference month. This would mean that final data are released 7 to 8 weeks after the reference month, that is 1 to 2 weeks later than under option a.

Both options represent an improved timeliness of release of final data on the previous release schedules.

13. In considering the above two options, ABS is also seeking comments as to whether there is continued requirement for preliminary data on short-term visitor arrivals if complete final data are released in 6 to 7 weeks after the reference month. The above options are reliant on the timely, regular receipt of passenger card data from DIMIA. If option (a) is preferred, for at least the next 6 months, the ABS proposes to continue to calculate preliminary data as a contingency. The preliminary data would only be published if a delay was experienced in release of final data. The timetable for the release of data would be reviewed by the end of 2002 so as to implement any timeliness improvements for 2003 releases.

14. Comments on this paper would be appreciated by 15 August 2002 and may be sent to Catherine Owen at catherine.owen@abs.gov.au or by telephoning (02) 6252 5640.

Demography Program
Australian Bureau of Statistics
2 August 2002