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Newsletters - Stats Talk Western Australia - Issue No. 10, December 2003

In This Issue

          Feature Articles
          Feature Publications

          Regular Features

Developing New Ways to Count Our Blessings

Dennis Trewin has been honoured with an award from The Bulletin in recognition of the work the ABS has undertaken to further the advancement of the nation.

Dennis topped the society category (one of ten categories) of The Bulletin's Smart 100 awards and was recognised for making a significant and positive contribution to Australian life. The award was for the ground breaking work undertaken by the ABS in producing the publication Measuring Australia's Progress (cat. no. 1370.0) (MAP). Dennis accepted the award at a ceremony at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday 21 October, 2003.

The US General Accounting office has since embarked on a similar exercise using MAP as its model (Trewin addressed its first major workshop on the project in February). Other countries, including Sweden and Ireland, and the OECD, are also considering using the MAP model.

-The Bulletin

Future directions
The ABS is in the process of finalising the content of the next issue of the MAP publication. It was always the intention that MAP would evolve to take account of people’s feedback, new data sources and changing views of progress.
Some of the ideas we have adopted, or are considering, include:
  • Renaming the publication Measures of Australia’s Progress
  • Setting out a more explicit framework for our indicators of progress, and information on how MAP’s indicators link back to other frameworks
  • Doing more to recognise and discuss the importance of governance, democracy and citizenship
  • Considering both income and wealth when assessing economic disadvantage
  • A new overarching environmental dimension entitled landscape, that looks at water, land, soil and biodiversity.

For further information about MAP, please contact Jon Hall by email

Regional Director Accepts Position with International Monetary Fund

Bon Voyage and Good Luck!
From all your friends and colleagues in Western Australia

Col Nagle (centre) and friends on Scarborough Beach at an ABS social and sporting event early in 2002

After almost six years as Regional Director and Western Australian Government Statistician, it is time for me to move on and make way for new leadership in the ABS Western Australian office. I spent the first thirteen years of my career with the ABS in Canberra working on foreign trade, international investment and balance of payments statistics, followed by an eighteen month "apprenticeship" in the ABS Tasmanian office before moving to WA. While I have enjoyed each of the career opportunities I have had with the ABS, the opportunity to live and work in Western Australia has certainly been a highlight.

The Western Australian office had long been regarded as a high performing office with very capable staff. I found that to be true, and my hope is that we have maintained and enhanced that reputation over the past six years. My aims over that time have been to strengthen our relationships with State Government agencies, to develop a comprehensive understanding of their information needs, and to develop the capabilities within the WA office to deliver timely and innovative responses. I also sought to improve our representation of your information needs in ABS forward work program deliberations.

There have been some significant achievements in these areas - a revitalised Statistical Policy Committee with wider Terms of Reference and broader representation; increased corporate focus on, and funding of issues such as social capital, democracy and citizenship; and improved quality of annual State Accounts.

On 1 December 2003, Mr Alan Hubbard will take up duties as the new Regional Director of the ABS Western Australian Office. I wish Alan and the WA office all the best for the future.

I will be taking leave to undertake a one to two year assignment with the International Monetary Fund as Multi-sector Statistics Adviser in Cambodia - you may need to wish me luck too! Thank you for the support and assistance you have provided to me and to the ABS. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in WA and will miss Perth and the many friends and acquaintances I have made here.

Colin Nagle
Regional Director, WA

Welcome from Alan Hubbard

On 1 December this year, Alan Hubbard will take up the position of Regional Director in the WA Office. Alan said he is looking forward to the challenge of contributing to a new area of activity and to working with a new team of people. “I am particularly pleased to be coming into an organisation that is noted for the high standard of its products and for the professional approach of its staff”.

In recent years Alan has worked as a division head in the WA Department for Planning and Infrastructure and one of its antecedent organisations, the Department of Transport. In the 1980s, Alan held several positions in the economic policy area of the WA Treasury Department. Prior to joining the WA Treasury he worked in Canberra as an economist with the Industries Assistance Commission (now the Productivity Commission) for five years before returning to Perth for family reasons.

Alan's personal interests revolve around his family and friends and a range of outdoor activities. His immediate family comprises his wife, three children, and an ageing dog. In summer when the sea breeze is blowing he may be found on a sailboard off Leighton beach and in winter he likes to camp in the bush up north.

The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

Associate Professor Ted Wilkes and Professor Fiona Stanley at the launch of the publication The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander People

Dan Black and Dennis Trewin from ABS with Richard Madden, Fadwa Al-Yaman and Geoff Sims from AIHW

Indigenous publication “a rich source of information” Professor Fiona Stanley

The Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Stanley, has hailed the latest edition of Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (cat. no. 4704.0), released on 29 August, 2003 as a rich source of information for anyone interested in the health and welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Professor Stanley was the guest of honour at the launch of the publication, a joint output between the ABS and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The Australian Statistician, Dennis Trewin, said the report was a highlight of the work program of ABS's National Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics, especially for the team in the Darwin office.

Dennis also thanked the principal reviewers of the publication: Associate Professor Ian Anderson, Professor Neil Thomson, and Associate Professor Ted Wilkes, for their valuable comments on the draft report. The AIHW and the ABS would also like to acknowledge the contribution of the other reviewers: Dr. Carol Bower, Associate Professor Joan Cunningham, Dr. Will Sanders and Dr. Beverley Sibthorpe. Dennis also thanked the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health within the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing for providing valuable comments and financial assistance towards the production of this report.

The report has previously been published in 2001, 1999 and 1997.

Collaboration Points the Way

The WA Office of the ABS has been helping the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research (ICHR) to conduct the Western Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey (WAACHS). The WAACHS aims to collect information that can be used to identify and address issues that affect the health, education, development and well-being of Aboriginal children. All regions of WA are represented by the sample, from large towns to small rural centres and remote communities.

The ICHR team working on analysis and outputs from the survey is housed in the ABS WA Office. There has been significant mutual benefit to the ABS and ICHR from their collaboration on the WAACHS. Innovations used in this project will be applicable to a broad range of household surveys and include analysis of linked data sets and sampling of a highly mobile Indigenous population.

The findings from the WAACHS will be available in three publications: Health and Well-being of Aboriginal Children and Young People; Aboriginal Family and Community Health; and Aboriginal Education, Health and Well-being.

Back: (LtoR) Deborah Wade-Marshall, Simon Doyle, Judith Griffin, Francis Mitrou, Prof. Sven Silburn.
Front : Prof. Steve Zubrick (left) and Dr. David Lawrence.

Revised Electoral Boundaries

The Electoral Distribution Commissioners : Ms Lyn Auld, The Hon David K. Malcolm, AC, Cit. WA, Mr C. Nagle.

The Electoral Distribution Act 1947 establishes the process by which the State's electoral boundaries are set. Three Electoral Distribution Commissioners are appointed under the Act to divide the State into electoral regions and districts. The Commissioners who undertook the 2003 division were:
  • The Hon David K. Malcolm, AC, CIT. WA, Chief Justice of Western Australia (Chairman)
  • Ms Lyn Auld, Electoral Commissioner; and
  • Mr Colin Nagle, Government Statistician and Australian Bureau of Statistics Regional Director, Western Australia.

The Commissioners determined that the 2003 division of the State should commence on 5 February, 2003. Under the current legislation, the electoral boundaries determined by this process apply for the next two State general elections due by 2005 and 2009. Western Australia's Electoral Region and District Maps August 2003 contains detailed maps of the Electoral Regions and Districts for Western Australia.

Further information is available from the Office of the Western Australian Electoral Commission

Citizenship and the Premier’s Department

Social Attachment Indicators
The Department of the Premier and Cabinet is currently finalising the details of a state Citizenship Strategy, which aims to ensure that all Western Australians have the opportunity to participate fully in their communities and in the decision-making that shapes their everyday lives. Citizenship is a concept that reaches across the whole of government and community as it is the common ground that unites us as Western Australians and Australians. It deals with issues such as trust, confidence and the ability of the community to deal with the challenges and uncertainties in the world around us.

Over the past two years, the Citizens and Civics Unit (CCU) has been working with the ABS to extend the Measuring Australia's Progress (cat. no. 1370.0) (MAP) initiative to include the measurement of governance and citizenship in Australia. As part of the MAP initiative, the ABS has developed a range of ‘social attachment’ indicators that measure such things as our perceptions of other people, organisations, and institutions.

It is recognised that no one single factor can be used to indicate social and democratic progress. There will always be discussion and debate about the suitability and comprehensiveness of any given set of social indicators and the ABS has welcomed feedback from the community in this regard. This is one of the many ways that gathering statistical data helps us to better understand and improve the world in which we live.

Our thanks to Dr. Christina Gillgren, Director, Citizens and Civics Unit, Department of Premier and Cabinet for this article.

Further information is available from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet by calling 9222 9837 or from the web site

Western Australian Statistical Indicators

The Winemaking Industry in W A

The September issue of Western Australian Statistical Indicators (cat. no. 1367.5) features an article on the winemaking industry in Western Australia. This industry has experienced significant increases in wine production and exports over the last five years, and is located in one of the fastest growing winemaking regions in Australia.

Highlights from the article include:
  • The volume of wine exported from Western Australia showed significant growth, from 1.3 million litres in 1998-99 to 5 million litres in 2002-03
  • The United Kingdom was the major country of destination for Western Australia's wine exports in 2002-03, accounting for 33.3% of the total volume of wine exported
  • Beverage wine production in Western Australia more than tripled, from 12.7 million litres in 1997-98 to 39.1 million litres in 2001-02, an increase of 207.6%
  • Since 1996, the number of Western Australians whose main job was in grape-growing or wine production increased by 124.5% to 3,228 people in 2001.

The publication, Western Australian Statistical Indicators, September Quarter 2003 (cat. no. 1367.5) provides information on: state accounts; consumer price index; construction; tourism; labour market; finance; trade; population; crime; and environment statistics. There is also a section on Social Trends, which focuses on the issues of education, training and work in Western Australia.

For further information, contact Amanda Baile on (08) 9360 5178 or email

State Supplementary Survey

Progress Report

At a time of critical water shortages, data relating to household water usage and water efficiency are important for water demand management. The identification of this high priority statistical requirement resulted in the decision to conduct the 2003 State Supplementary Survey on the topic of "Domestic Water Use". It is expected that results from the survey will be available in April 2004. The results will be published in Domestic Water Use, Western Australia (cat. no. 4616.5.55.001). A feature article will also be included in Western Australian Statistical Indicators (cat. no. 1367.5).

Household property crime is a significant issue for all Western Australians. WA households experience the second highest number of burglaries in Australia. Data relating to home security is an essential tool for the development of crime reduction plans. As a result, the Statistical Policy Committee has recently decided that the topic to be developed for the 2004 State Supplementary Survey will be "Home Safety and Security".

State government representatives were recently invited to participate in a User Advisory Group. Assuming the topic is approved by the ABS Population Survey Planning Committee, this group will be responsible for steering the development and output phases of the survey. Full-scale development of the survey will begin in early 2004 and survey results will be available in April 2005.

For more information contact Gabriela Lawrence by email: or ((08) 9360 5947.

National Statistical Service

Update from the NSS Coordinator
The last few months have been busy with many visits to state government agencies as part of the annual state statistical priorities process. I have used this opportunity to raise awareness of the NSS among the agencies visited. I look forward to meeting more of you with a view to furthering the NSS ideals of improving the availability and quality of government statistics.

For further information contact Cal Hoad, NSS Coordinator by email or ((08) 9360 5920.

Mesh Blocks

Across its statistical collections, the ABS uses a common standard for geographical areas known as the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC). The smallest building block currently in use for statistical data collection is the Census Collection District (CD), typically comprising 100 to 220 households. CDs are, however, subject to certain constraints, consequently they do not always align to desired geographic regions.

One method of avoiding this shortcoming is through the use of geocoding, a process of allocating latitude and longitude to each individual dwelling or business, thereby describing its position on the surface of the earth. Once a statistical unit has been geocoded it is a relatively simple process to code it to any geographical classification simply by ‘overlaying’ the geocoded point with a set of regions in a Geographical Information System (GIS).

Geocoding of individual households, however, has the potential to create public concern about confidentiality. To obtain most of the advantages of geocoding without compromising confidentiality the ABS proposes to develop a new micro-level geographical unit known as a Mesh Block. Mesh Blocks will on average contain 20 to 50 households and could be created to align with the widest range of administrative and natural boundaries. Only very basic census data would be available at the Mesh Block level, perhaps only number of dwellings and population counts, but the full range of census data would be available for combinations of Mesh Blocks. If statistical and administrative geographies are to share a common building block then Mesh Blocks must be implemented in a manner that is more consistent and precise than statistical application alone would require.

It is vital that state governments fully participate in the consultation process and inform the ABS on how to define Mesh Blocks in a way that would be consistent with state use for statistics but also for local authority boundaries, geographical names, electoral purposes,and so on. Once designed and readily available, Mesh Blocks have the potential to become a new building block of Australian geography so that any organisation developing a set of regions would build up its areas simply by adding Mesh Blocks together in whatever combination best suited its purpose. This in turn would ensure that census data could be accurately derived for those regions.

There will always be a need to define different sets of geographical areas for different purposes — one size will never fit everyone. It is possible, however, for different geographies to share a common building block and thereby achieve a level of comparability and compatibility far beyond what we have today. A panel of experts is currently advising the ABS on ideal design parameters for Mesh Blocks and an ABS position paper will be published in February 2004, followed by an intensive consultation with States and other key stakeholders in March/April 2004.

For further information, contact Frank Blanchfield by ( (02) 6252 7759 or email:

Children and Youth Statistics

The National Children and Youth Statistics Unit (NCYSU) now has a Theme page on the ABS web site. It provides a comprehensive guide to ABS and non-ABS data, statistics and information on aspects of children and youth. Links are provided to the following:
  • latest releases from the ABS
  • the key ABS publications
  • forthcoming releases
  • feature articles available on the ABS web site
  • key government and research agencies
  • international statistical agencies.

The NCYSU has recently released the first issue of an electronic newsletter, Children & Youth News.

For further information, contact Carrington Shepherd on (08) 9360 5255 or email

Visit the new WA Office Pages @ <>

Home: Australian Bureau of Statistics Home
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Western Australia

Welcome to the Western Australian Office web pages. These pages provide links to information on the WA Office, the products and services we have to offer, and quick and easy access to some WA statistics.

Stats Talk - Our Newsletter
Upcoming Seminars and User Consultations
Western Australian Publications
Electronic Products
A profile of regional Western Australia
Where to find us
What we do
Our links with WA State Government
Summary pamphlet on WA
Articles of interest on Western Australia
Data from the 1996 Census
Data from the 2001 Census
Selected data for WA's Statistical Local Areas
Accessing ABS statistics
Consultancy Services
Statistical Training Courses
Information available at selected local libraries

Information Consultancy

ABS caters to clients’ diverse information needs.

The ABS has a large range of statistics available for dissemination, including 2001 Census Data and social and economic indicators. Data can be customised according to your specifications if standard products and publications are unable to meet your needs.

ABS has Information Consultants available to discuss and assess your requirement, tailoring it to time frame and budget in a suitable format. ABS Information Consultants provide services which include:
  • customising data tables
  • time series data
  • thematic maps and graphs which present information in a visually appealing format.

Customised data is provided on a "fee for service" basis starting from $195.00.


          A client wanted to know the religions of males and females aged between 12-25 years in WA, and in the Perth Metropolitan Region.
          He was provided with a customised table derived from
          Census Data 2001 for the low cost of $195.00.

          A property development company wanted to know the tonnage of gypsum imported into Australia, the state of destination and country of origin. This information was required for each of the past 10 financial years for comparison. We provided a customised table derived from International Merchandise Trade according to the client's specifications at the low cost of $370.00.

For further information contact David King on (08) 9360 5903 or email

Keep Informed With Regional Profiles 2003

Did you know that...
In 2001, the Wheatbelt Development Commission Region produced approximately $1817m worth of agricultural commodities, 41% of Western Australia's total.
In 2001, the retail trade industry employed 95,000 usual residents of Perth.
In 2002, the City of Kalgoorlie/Boulder produced approximately $882m worth of gold, 25% of Western Australia's gold total.
In 2002, the City of Perth was the fastest growing municipality in Western Australia, increasing its estimated resident population by 12% on the previous year.

These are just a small sample of the statistics that can be found in the 2003 Regional Profiles.
We will soon release the 2003 series of Regional Profiles. Each Profile is available at Local Government Areas (LGAs), Development Commission Regions (DCRs) and other geographic areas within Western Australia.

The Profiles provide users with the latest up-to-date statistical information (from ABS and non-ABS sources) on a range of social, economic and environmental topics. Topics include population, households, employment, education, internet use, crime, health, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, mining, transport and tourism. This year's Regional Profiles will also provide additional data analysing Youth and Older Persons in your area.

For further information or to receive a sample 2003 Regional Profile, contact the Regional Statistics Unit on (08) 9360 5932 or email <> or visit the Regional Statistics web pages on the ABS web site.

Statistical Training

The WA Statistical Consultancy section of the ABS will be offering a suite of statistical training courses in the first half of 2004. Visit our Statistical Training page for details.

Statistical Consultancy

The ABS has an international reputation for producing quality information on a variety of topics. The Statistical Consultancy team are professional statisticians with expertise and experience in survey design and data analysis. Our Statistical Consultancy offers this experience and expertise to both government and the community. This service is offered to assist in making informed and defensible decisions by providing statistical advice and assistance. We can help you identify and solve problems using statistical methods and rigour.

A Nationwide Quality Service

As a part of the National Statistical Service, Statistical Consultancy teams provide a high quality, objective and responsive statistical service.

For further information, contact Gabriela Lawrence on (08) 9360 5252 or email

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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