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Newsletters - Stats Talk Western Australia - Issue No. 11, May 2004

In this issue

Feature Articles
Feature Publications
Regular Features

2002 General Social Survey, Western Australia (cat. no. 4159.5.55.00)

New survey reports on aspects of life in Western Australia

The summary results for Western Australia from the 2002 General Social Survey (GSS) brings together a wide range of information from areas of broad social concern. The results are presented on the ABS Web site in a data cube format.

Topics include Health, Housing, Education, Work, Income, Financial Stress, Assets and Liabilities, Transport, Family and Community, and Crime.

Perth Bell Tower, Barrack Street Jetty, Perth.
Perth Bell Tower,
Barrack Street Jetty, Perth.
The data cube is presented in Excel Spreadsheet format and results for Western Australia are in the same table layouts as provided for Australia level data in the publication. The table numbering in the data cube follows that used in the publication, to enable easy comparisons with other states, territories and Australia. To access the data cube see 4159.5.55.001 General Social Survey, Western Australia (Charges apply)
To assist in using the data provided in the data cube, the Explanatory Notes and the Glossary from the 2002 General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia (cat. no. 4159.0) are available.

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View from the Top

Alan Hubbard, Regional Director, WA
Alan Hubbard, Regional Director, WA
Several months have passed since I commenced as Regional Director and I thought it would be interesting to reflect on my experiences and impressions of the ABS over that time.


My initial focus was to learn as much as I could about the services provided by the WA Office, its staff and its relationships with its clients. As the Western Australian Regional Director I also have a role in the management of the national organisation and I am now involved in various management activities affecting the ABS Australia wide.

Range of Statistical Publications

The sheer breadth of activity and range of statistical publications that the ABS produces is my strongest impression to date. At the same time, the detailed and intense processes applied to produce a statistical release were a revelation to me. The professional approach of ABS staff, their skills and commitment to their work impressed me from the outset and continue to impress.

Outposted Officers

ABS officers outposted to State Government agencies are gaining valuable experience, whilst also providing these agencies with accessible, high quality data. The reports I receive from these officers give me a strong appreciation of the mutual benefits these arrangements are providing.

Understanding and Meeting Statistical Needs

Engaging with State clients in order to understand and meet their statistical needs is the major focus for the WA Office. In support of this process I have commenced a series of meetings with State Government agencies with the aim of raising awareness at the senior executive level about the range of services offered by the ABS. This forum also gives me an opportunity to receive feedback on how the ABS is performing in meeting agencies’ needs.

Productive Dialogue with Users of ABS Data

Since assuming my new role, I see the value in maintaining a productive dialogue with users of ABS data very clearly. Currently many business and government decisions are taken without the benefit of detailed statistical analysis. It is easy to understand how managers, who are under continual pressure to meet current needs, may see the development of future statistical requirements as a lower priority issue. The ABS must elevate that priority and improve responsiveness for these decision makers.


The challenge for myself and the ABS, is to elevate the current priorities for State level data; and to improve our timeliness and responsiveness to client needs for WA data.


An example of ABS’ ongoing commitment to fulfilling State needs is the State Statistical Forum (SSF). The SSF meets annually in Canberra, bringing together State Government representatives and senior ABS executives, to ensure a common understanding of State needs, and to review the progress of ABS responses to these needs. Topics covered in the February 2004 meeting included increasing the range of regional data; improving the State accounts; and increasing the quality and range of statistics in respect of the Indigenous population.

Productive Partnerships

I look forward to further progressing the development of productive partnerships between the ABS, WA regional office and WA State Government agencies. Please consider contacting the ABS before you make your next big decision. We will do our best to assist you.

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ABS Shopfronts

Have you dropped into an ABS shopfront lately?

The WA ABS Shopfront is open Monday to Friday. between 9:00am - 4:30pm. Appointments are not necessary - just drop in to discover the diverse range of statistics we have available for your research and decision making needs.

Visiting the ABS Shopfront provides a valuable opportunity to access a rich source of ABS publications, maps and data products.

The ABS has a shopfront conveniently located in each capital city, with professionally trained staff available to assist you.

We are located on Level 16, Exchange Plaza
2 The Esplanade, Perth
(off Sherwood Court)

ABS Shopfront, Perth
ABS Shopfront, Perth
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Census of Population and Housing: Australia's Youth, 2001 (ABS cat. no. 2059.0)

The characteristics of youth (15 to 24 year olds) are explored in detail in a new publication from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Census of Population and Housing: Australia's Youth, 2001 (cat. no. 2059.0)

Some youth facts for Western Australia include :

  • In 2001, there were 260,300 people aged 15-24 years, equating to 14% of the WA population and 10% of the Australian youth population.
  • Nearly one-fifth (19%) of WA's youth population were born overseas, the highest proportion of all states and territories.
  • 56% of WA's youth had used a computer at home in the week preceding the census, compared with 59% nationally.
  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) of WA's youth participated in the labour force in 2001, compared to a national participation rate of 63%.
  • 49% of WA's youth were attending an educational institution, compared with the national rate of 53%.
This publication provides an updated snapshot of young people across a range of areas of social concern. It explores issues such as: Indigenous and cultural background, ancestry, language proficiency, family relationships, participation in education and the labour force, income levels, and use of computers and the Internet. Also included is an in-depth feature article exploring the mobility patterns of youth.

Further information can be obtained from the Children and Youth Statistics Theme Page

Or, for a hard copy of the publication phone 1300 135 070.

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Schools Australia, 2003 (cat. no. 4221.0)


There were 3.3 million Australian school students going to 9,607 schools in August 2003, according to data from the National Schools Census.

These students were taught by just under 230,000 full-time equivalent school teachers. In 2003 there were 16,900 more full-time students attending school than the previous year (up 0.5%).

More than two-thirds (68%) of full-time students attended government schools, compared with 72% a decade earlier. Between 1993 and 2003 the number of full-time students increased by 1% (26,600) in government schools and by 22% (193,700) in non-government schools.

The annual snapshot also found:

  • More than three-quarters (77%) of full-time Year 10 students in 2001 continued through to the final year of secondary school in 2003.
  • The proportion of female students continuing through to Year 12 has been consistently about 10% higher than for male students since the early 1990s (82% for female students, compared with 72% for males, in 2003).

For further information on Schools Australia, 2003, (cat. no. 4221.0)

contact Leo Stinson, phone (02) 6252 7793 or email:

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Children’s Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities (cat. no. 4901.0)

Results from the 2003 survey of Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities (CPCLA) (cat. no. 4901.0) were released in January, 2004.

A spreadsheet, containing state level data, has been provided to Recreation and Sport agencies in each State and Territory as part of our partnership agreement with the Standing Committee on Recreation and Sport.

CPCLA was conducted as a supplementary survey to the Monthly Labour Force Survey (MLFS) and contains a wealth of information about the out of school activities in which children participate - music lessons, sport, bike and skateboard riding, reading, watching TV, playing computer games, IT access, etc along with information on frequency and duration of involvement and the characteristics of parents.

For further information, contact Mike Stratton, phone (02) 6252 7793 or email:

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Australian Social Trends Seminar (AST)

Australian Social Trends 2003 is the 10th edition of an annual series, first published in 1994, presenting information on contemporary social issues and areas of public and policy concern.The publication draws on a wide range of ABS statistics and statistics from other official sources in describing aspects of Australian society and how these are changing over time. It is designed to be of wide use, particularly for those engaged in research, marketing and journalism.

Each edition of Australian Social Trends contains around 30 articles, organised into seven areas of social concern: population; family and community; health; education and training; work; economic resources; and housing.

For each area of concern there are updated summary tables covering a ten year period at the national level, and a state by state comparison of statistics.

ABS, WA hosted a seminar in November 2003 which focussed on the key trends and issues in Australian society with examples from recent editions of Australian Social Trends. While the publication has a strong national focus, the seminar highlighted trends in Western Australia where possible, and covered some very topical areas such as changing families, home ownership, education and health.

The seminar was presented by Christine Mason and Lisa Fenn from the Social Analysis and Reporting section in our Central Office.

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Western Australian Land Information Service

WALIS is a formal state agency and local government alliance that was developed to assist in asset management and now seeks to create value for Western Australia through the use of spatial information.

Spatial information combines physical geography (waterways, terrain etc) with cultural geography (buildings, roads, pipelines etc) and is used when planning land use, including managing national parks and laying and maintaining the utility infrastructure of our cities and towns.

For more information about WALIS, and what they can do for you, visit the WALIS Web Site

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Year Book Australia

Year Book Australia 2004

Located on Level 16, Exchange Plaza
2 The Esplanade, Perth
(off Sherwood Court)

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Western Australian Statistical Indicators (cat. no. 1367.5)

The Construction Industry in Western Australia

The December 2003 issue of Western Australia Statistical Indicators (cat. no. 1367.5) released on 14 January 2004, includes a feature article on the construction industry in Western Australia. The article brings together a range of data on the Western Australian construction industry over the five years from 1998-99 to 2002-03, focusing on trends in construction activity, economic performance and employment. Construction is an integral part of the Western Australian Economy, particularly the engineering construction for large mining projects, and is closely linked to other industries such as manufacturing and finance.

Key facts from the article include:

  • Between 2002-02 and 2002-03, the value of engineering construction activity rose by $1.6 billion (51.3%) to account for more than half of the value of total construction activity in Western Australia.
  • The value of residential building activity increased by $0.9 billion (40.6%) from 1998 - 99 to 2002-03.
  • The value of the state's building approvals in the second half of 2002-03 rose by 27.7% from the same period in the previous year, suggesting a positive outlook for building activity in 2003-04.
  • Business investment in the construction industry declined sharply in 1999-2000 (down 40.9% to 159 million) coinciding with a significant fall in mineral exploration expenditure in that year. Since 1999-2000, business investment recovered to reach 241 million in 2002-03.
  • In 2002-03, the construction industry employed 8.1% of the state's workforce, the 5th largest employing industry in Western Australia.

Regional Wage and Salary Earners

The March 2004 issue of Western Australian Statistical Indicators (cat. no. 1367.5), released on 7 April 2004, includes a feature article on regional wage and salary earners in Western Australia. This article uses Australian Taxation Office income tax data to explore changes in the regional distribution of Western Australia's wage and salary earners and their incomes, over the period 1996-97 to 2000-01.

Major highlights from the article include:
  • In 2000-01, there were almost 723,000 wage and salary earners in Western Australia, an increase of 3.1% since 1996-97.
  • The largest growth in the number of wage and salary earners between 1996-97 and 2000-01 occurred in areas located on Perth's metropolitan fringe, such as Joondalup - North, Swan and Rockingham. The number of wage and salary earners residing in each of these areas increased by over 3,200 persons during the five year period.

The publication, Western Australian Statistical Indicators, (cat. no. 1367.5), provides information on: state accounts; prices and wages; retail turnover; finance and investment; building and engineering construction; overseas trade; the labour market; agriculture; mining and energy; tourism; population and vitals; crime; and the environment. Each issue includes analysis of recent movements in key state economic and labour market data, as well as a section on social trends, which presents information on income and housing for Western Australia.

For further information, contact Mike Thomas, phone (08) 9360 5353 or email:

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Combined meeting of the Economic and Social Statistics Consultative Groups

The Economic and Social Statistics Consultative Groups meet quarterly to discuss statistical matters with a Western Australian focus. A joint meeting was held on the 14 November 2003 and included a farewell for the outgoing Regional Director, Colin Nagle, and a welcome to Alan Hubbard, who was appointed Regional Director, last November.

Presentations were given by WALIS and the ABS on the subject of Geographical Information Systems.

The meeting also included discussion on State Supplementary Survey topics and State statistical priorities.

If you are interested in finding out more about these groups, details of these meetings including Agendas and Minutes can now be accessed via the ABS web site <> Themes, Western Australia.

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Industrial Disputes (cat. no. 6321.0)

The monthly Industrial Disputes publication (cat. no. 6321.0) released on 18 March 2004, will be the final monthly release in the form of a printed publication. It will be replaced with a quarterly electronic publication Industrial Disputes (cat. no. 6321.0.55.001).

The first edition of the new electronic publication will contain March Quarter 2004 data and is scheduled for release in June 2004. A small number of tables, presenting March quarterly data, will be available free from the ABS web site.

As a result of moving from a monthly to a quarterly series, statistics will become available for more industry groups. In addition, data will become available from the new Cause of Dispute (COD) and Reason Work Resumed (RWR) (formerly method of settlement) classifications. The new COD classification will enable disputes to be classified according to their relationship to a process of workplace/enterprise bargaining.

For further information, contact Peta Sheehan, phone (08) 9360 5159 or email:
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ABS and Local Government
This may be of interest to you - please take a moment to have a look.

Local Government and ABS is a free service provided by the ABS to assist the local government sector gain a better understanding of statistics generally and find data to assist with planning and other community servicing decisions. The fourth edition of Local Government and ABS is now available on the ABS web site.

In this issue:
  • Census Counts
  • Service Population Pilot Study
  • Local Government protecting and managing the environment - how much?
  • The Australian Standard Geographical Classification and the role and definition of LGA regions
  • Mesh Blocks, a new geographical building block for local Government
  • Regional Statistics Program
  • What's happening to Local Government Finance?

For further information, visit the ABS web site <>

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National Statistical Service

Update from the NSS Coordinator
  • David Smith, Executive Director, Economic, Department of Treasury and Finance and Chair of the SPC, convened a meeting of State Government Representatives on 26 February 2004 to discuss the implementation and impact of the NSS in WA. The ABS opened the meeting with a presentation on the NSS and ABS@. Outcomes from this meeting will guide the future direction of the NSS on a whole of Government basis.
  • ABS WA has been invited to join two new across government groups, the Across Government Domestic Violence Group and the Social Policy Reference Group, to assist with issues of data quality and comparability.
  • Close relations have been established with Western Australian Land Information Systems (WALIS). Over the years WALIS have developed a range of data sharing policies and principles covering issues of privacy and confidentiality, copyright, licenses, pricing and data transfer, metadata and custodianship. WALIS are data exchange experts and their experience will be invaluable to the development of ABS NSS initiatives.
  • Alan Hubbard, Regional Director, ABS WA, has been invited to deliver presentations to several state government corporate executive bodies early in 2004. These presentations include sections on the NSS and ABS@
  • The release of the NSS web site <> will be featured in the next issue of Stats Talk.

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

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Yes Minister

Did you know? The Hon. Ross Cameron MP has replaced Senator the Hon Ian Campbell as Parliamentary Secretary to the Hon. Treasurer.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer is the Minister directly responsible for the ABS.

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Confidentialised Unit Record Files

The ABS is permitted under the Census and Statistics Act 1901 to release unit record data provided this is done: ‘ a manner that is not likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation to which it relates.’ These microdata are released as Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs).

The unit records are protected from identification in a number of ways. The name, address and all other information which would enable an individual or business to be easily identified are removed. Some records with unusual characteristics which might make them identifiable from the crowd are altered to more usual values and some very unusual records (the tall poppies) are removed altogether.

A second line of protection from identification is control of the mode of access to more detailed data by the ABS and restrictions on how the data may be used and limitations on the size and nature of outputs obtained from unit record data.

The third line of protection is a binding legal undertaking from each users and the CEO of his/her organisation regarding the use to which the CURF is to be applied, including an undertaking that no attempt will be made to identify the units to which the data applies, backed up by logging / auditing the use of the CURF to ensure the undertaking is followed.

The least detailed unit record files are available on CD-ROM. These may be accessed by the client on his/her own computer, but an analysis based on this kind of CURF is, like the data, somewhat restricted.

More detailed CURFs may be accessed through the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL). This allows access from any computer with Internet connection. The CURF remains within the ABS premises, user activity is monitored and there are restrictions on the kind of queries permitted and the size and type of outputs.

The most detailed CURFs are available via the ABS Data Laboratory (ABSDL). This is for specialist applications requiring a high level of detail. Using the ABSDL, it may be possible to use data from collections where previously CURFs could not be produced. The ABSDL may allow users to integrate CURF data with other datasets in a way that does not identify individuals. User activity is kept under ABS supervision and although there is more freedom in the kinds of queries that are permitted, there are greater restrictions on the nature and size of outputs which can be removed from the ABS environment.

A CURF will be produced by the ABS only where there is a demonstrated user demand, and the CURF specifications comply with confidentiality requirements. The release of a CURF is at the discretion of the Australian Statistician. Depending on content, some CURFs may be available only via the RADL or ABSDL services. All Basic CURFs available on CD-ROM can also be accessed through the RADL service, subject to the clearance auditing procedures applicable to all RADL access to CURFs.

If you would like access to one or more CURFs, all the details of the conditions of access and the undertakings required, costs, etc. including the CURF user training manual (required reading for all CURF users) are available on the ABS web site <> under Access to ABS CURFs.

For further information contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or

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In Focus: WA Statistical Consultancy Unit

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has an international reputation for providing a high quality and objective national statistical service. The WA Statistical Consultancy Unit (SCU) offers this expertise locally to both government agencies and the general community. The SCU can tailor innovative solutions to meet your specific statistical needs through a service which falls into three broad categories: Statistical Consultancy, Statistical Training, and State Supplementary Surveys.

Statistical Training

SCU Training Courses teach practical statistical skills through formal presentations and interactive discussion, combined with the involvement of participants in individual and group exercises.

All courses cost $565 per person

Basic Statistical Analysis - 12 & 13 May
Turning Data Into Information - 2 & 3 June
Focus Group Techniques - 23 & 24 June
Register 3 weeks before commencement of a course to receive an early bird discount.

Statistical Training Courses can also be tailored to suit your needs or additional programs can be developed as required.
WA Statistical Consultancy Team
The Statistical Consultancy Team
Anne Goodall, Jennifer Gaudie and Gabriela Lawrence
State Supplementary Surveys
In October each year, provision is made for the WA State Government to nominate a survey topic to be collected as a supplement to the Monthly Population Survey. This collection is known as the State Supplementary Survey.

Results from the 2003 SSS were released on the 6th April 2004 in Domestic Water Use, Western Australia (cat. no. 4616.5.55.001).

Development work has commenced on the proposed topic of "Home Safety and Security" for the 2004 SSS.

Submissions for the 2005 SSS will be called for in early May 2004, with initial Topic Submissions due on 31 May 2004. Information and Guidelines for applicants can be accessed from the ABS Web site <>; Themes; Western Australia; Our links with State Government; State Supplementary Surveys.
Statistical Consultancy

Our expert team can help you meet your statistical requirements through the provision of statistical consultancy services. We can assist you with:
  • Survey and sample design
  • Data analysis and modelling
  • Reviews and tender evaluations
  • Data management.

The SCU recently assisted the Department of Education and Training (DET) on a statistical modelling project, aimed at identifying characteristics of Western Australian 15-19 year olds who were not participating in employment, training or education in 2001.

This project was ground breaking in that it enabled DET and ABS to work in partnership to improve the quality of research available. DET managed the project and advised the ABS with methodology and modelling variables. DET staff prepared the SPSS programs and an ABS officer ran the programs on the complete (100%) Census file.

After ensuring confidentiality, the output of the modelling was provided to the DET for analysis and reporting. The outcome of this partnership can be seen in the DET paper "Engaging Youth: The Status of Youth participation in Education Training and Employment in Western Australia". The following acknowledgment appears in the DET paper "I would like to acknowledge the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in working collaboratively with the Department in providing selected access to the complete, confidentialised Census data." (Paul Albert, Director General, Department of Education and Training.)

The SCU will consider similar requests for working in partnerships with other government departments and research units.

For further information about SCU services, please contact Gabriela Lawrence, phone (08) 9360 5947 or email:

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