Australian Bureau of Statistics

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Australian Bureau of Statistics
Agency overview
Formed8 December 1905; 118 years ago (1905-12-08)
Preceding agency
  • Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics
JurisdictionAustralian Government
HeadquartersCanberra, Australian Capital Territory
Employees3,779 (at 30 June 2021)[1]
Annual budgetAUS$ $172.7 million (over four years from 2023–24)[2]
Minister responsible
Agency executives
  • David Gruen, Australian Statistician[4]
  • Brenton Goldsworthy, Deputy Australian Statistician, Insights and Statistics Group
  • Teresa Dickinson, Deputy Australian Statistician, Data and Statistical Practices Group
  • Jenet Connell, Deputy Australian Statistician, Enterprise Services Group and Acting Chief Operating Officer
Parent departmentTreasury
Websiteabs.gov.au

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is an Australian government agency that collects and analyses statistics on economic, population, environmental, and social issues to advise the government.[5]

The bureau was established in 1905 and replaced the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (CBCS).[6][7] The ABS conducts Australia's Census of Population and Housing every five years and publishes its findings online.

History[edit]

Efforts to count the population of Australia reach as far back as 1788 with "musters" which involved physically gathering a community to be counted, a practice that continued until 1825.[8] Each colony continued to individually collect statistics despite various attempts to coordinate collections through an annual Conference of Statisticians. The first simultaneous census across all then Australian colonies occurred in 1881.[8] Later, a national statistical office was proposed to develop comparable statistics.[9]

The Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (CBCS) was established under the Census and Statistics Act of 1905. Sir George Handley Knibbs was appointed as the first Commonwealth Statistician. CBCS was located in Melbourne and was attached to the Department of Home Affairs. In 1928, the Bureau relocated to Canberra, and in 1932 it moved to the Department of the Treasury.[9]

The first national census occurred in 1911 with approximately 7,300 collection workers.[8] While coordination and data sharing were facilitated by CBCS, each state in Australia initially had its own statistical office and worked with the CBCS to produce national data. Some states faced challenges in providing a satisfactory statistical service through their own offices, resulting in mergers with the Commonwealth Bureau. The Tasmanian Statistical Office was transferred to the Commonwealth Bureau in 1924, and the New South Wales (NSW) Bureau of Statistics amalgamated into the Commonwealth Bureau on 20 August 1957.[10] The final unification of all state statistical offices with the CBCS occurred in the late 1950s under the guidance of Sir Stanley Carver, the NSW's Statistician and Acting Commonwealth Statistician.[9]

In 1974, the CBCS was abolished replaced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act established the ABS as a statutory authority in 1975, headed by the Australian Statistician who reported to the Treasurer.[9]

In 2015, the Australian government announced a $250 million five-year investment in the ABS to modernize its systems and processes.[11]

Census of Population and Housing[edit]

Once every 5 years, the ABS conducts the Australian Census of Population and Housing as stipulated under federal law in the Constitution of Australia.[12]

The most recent Census of Population and Housing was conducted on 10 August 2021.[13] Statistics from the census were published on the ABS website on 28 June 2022.[14]

The census aims to accurately measure the population, number of dwellings in Australia, and a range of their key characteristics. Census data is used for the definition of electoral boundaries, infrastructure planning, the creation of community services, and public policy formulation.[15]

2016 Census[edit]

In 2016, the ABS conducted its census largely online through its website and logins, rather than through the traditional paper forms.[16] The 2016 census was unavailable for 43 hours, from 7:30 pm on 9 August, due to a series of cyber-security concerns that prompted the ABS to take the form offline.[17] The chief statistician, David Kalisch, stated that the website was closed after multiple denial-of-service attacks targeted the online form. The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) confirmed the incident was a DDoS attack and that it did not result in any unauthorised access to or extraction of personal information.[17][18]

The online census web page was returned at 2:30 pm on 11 August.[19] A Senate inquiry was held into the census events.[20] An independent panel was established by the Australian Statistician to help ensure the quality of the 2016 census and found that the data was fit for purpose.[21]

The parliamentary report on the outage concluded that technical and organisational issues contributed to the outage.[17] Lack of communication prompted the use of social media channels to update the public on the status of the site, such as unclear escalation procedures between the ABS, ASD, and their sub-contractor IBM (including the poor independent verification of security arrangements).

2021 Census[edit]

The 2021 Census achieved a response rate above the ABS target, obtaining data from ten million (10,852,208) dwellings during the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The dwelling response rate was 96.1%, an increase from 95.1% in 2016.[22]

Publications[edit]

The ABS publishes monthly and quarterly economic information spanning interest rates, property prices, employment, the value of the Australian dollar, and commodity prices. Publications include things such as: the Key Economic Indicators, Consumer Price Index, Australian National Accounts, Average Weekly Earnings, and Labour Force.

Other major publications[edit]

Outside the main economic indicators, the ABS has several other major publications covering topics including:

  • Health: The 2011–12 Australian Health Survey was a survey on health and wellbeing conducted in Australia. The survey included a biomedical component with respondents having the option of providing biomedical samples such as blood and urine for testing. This allowed the survey to capture detailed health information about health conditions in the community. A secondary component of the Australian Health Survey asked respondents to keep a food diary, which was used to obtain a view of the nutritional intake and dietary preferences of the nation.[23]
  • Crime: The ABS publishes crime statistics such as individual releases covering offenders,[24] victims of crime,[25] the corrections system[26] and prisons.[27] The Australian crime rate statistic for 2021 was 0.74, a 13.51% decline from 2020.[28]
  • Demography: The ABS publishes many demographic releases including data on population,[29] population growth[30] and projections,[31] interstate and overseas migration,[32] births,[33] deaths[34] and overseas arrivals and departures.[35]
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander statistics: The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) collects information on the social situation of Indigenous Australians, including data on health, education, culture, and labour force participation. The ABS also collects data related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through the Australian Health Survey[36] as well as in many other regular publications in the areas of demography, education, employment, and more.
  • Education: The major education publications are Childhood Education and Care,[37] Schools,[38] and Education and Work.[39] They look at all aspects of education in Australia from preschool up to undergraduate and postgraduate study.
  • Environment: The ABS has publications on environmental topics covering energy and water use, conservation activities undertaken by households, land management, farming, and more.
  • Research and Innovation: The ABS has been undertaking surveys to collect estimates from Australian organisations regarding expenditure on and human resources devoted to research and development (R&D) in Australia since 1978. The results allow the nature and distribution of Australia's R&D activity to be monitored by government policy analysts and advisers to government, businesses, and economists.[40]

In August 2017, the Treasurer issued a directive to the ABS to undertake a statistical collection into the views of Australians on the electoral roll about same-sex marriage.[41] This is now referred to as the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.

The ABS previously published the Yearbook Australia, from 1908 to 2012 under various ISSNs and title iterations (Commonwealth yearbook, Official yearbook of the Commonwealth of Australia).[42]

The ABS publishes an Annual Report with a detailed description of the ABS' activities during the preceding year, accounting for its use of public resources and performance against planned outcomes.

International engagement[edit]

The ABS engages in international and regional statistical forums including the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Committee on Statistics and Statistical Policy (CSSP), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Conference for European Statisticians (CES).

The ABS has a partnership with DFAT to deliver statistical and institutional capability building programs for the Indo-Pacific region, both in-country and by hosting development visits. The ABS has also hosted international development and study visits from countries including China, Japan, Canada, Korea, and Nepal.[43]

Australian Statistician[edit]

Since 1975, the head of the ABS has been known as the "Australian Statistician". The title has been previously known as the "Commonwealth Statistician".

The incumbent since 11 December 2019 is David Gruen.[44] Previous incumbents have included David Kalisch[45] and Brian Pink.[46] Pink retired in January 2014.[47] Ian Ewing acted in the role from 13 January to 14 February 2014, and Jonathan Palmer acted from 17 February to 12 December 2014.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Australian Bureau of Statistics – Annual Report 2020–21". transparency.gov.au. 16 September 2021. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  2. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (2023). "Budget funding supports new data and security uplift". Retrieved 2 December 2023.
  3. ^ "Administrative Arrangements Order". pmc.gov.au. 23 June 2022. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  4. ^ "Dr David Gruen, Australian Statistician". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 12 December 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  5. ^ "ABS Institutional Environment". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 15 December 2023.
  6. ^ "Australian Bureau of Statistics". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3 November 2023. Retrieved 6 November 2023.
  7. ^ "Building a national statistical agency: From the Commonwealth. Bureau of Census and Statistics to the Australian Bureau of Statistics" (PDF). United Nations Statistics Division. 2005. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 December 2023.
  8. ^ a b c "History of the Census". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 26 December 2023.
  9. ^ a b c d "History of the ABS". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 24 July 2008. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Bureau of Statistics". Record agency. NSW State Archives & Records. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Government to tip $250M into ABS to modernise IT". CIO. Retrieved 5 December 2023.
  12. ^ "Senate Inquiry Report into the 2016 Census". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  13. ^ "2021 Census product release guide". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 21 July 2022. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  14. ^ "2021 Census snapshot: Australia has doubled in size over the last 50 years". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 28 June 2022. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  15. ^ "The Australian Census". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 May 2022. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  16. ^ "Get online on August 9". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  17. ^ a b c Alastair MacGibbon, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security—Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (13 October 2016). "Review of the events surrounding the 2016 eCensus: Improving institutional cyber security culture and practices across the Australian government". parlinfo.aph.gov.au. Retrieved 13 October 2016. Download PDF
  18. ^ "ABS Chief Statistician reveals to ABC NewsRadio the census website was taken down after four cyber-attacks from an overseas source". abc.net.au/newsradio. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 10 August 2016. Archived from the original on 11 August 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  19. ^ "2016 Census – Online form update: 3.00 pm, August 11" (Press release). Australian Bureau of Statistics. 11 August 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  20. ^ "2016 Census: issues of trust". Parliament of Australia. 24 November 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2017.Download PDF – 792KB
  21. ^ "2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia, 2016". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 June 2017. Archived from the original on 26 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  22. ^ "2021 Census snapshot: Australia has doubled in size over the last 50 years". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 28 June 2022. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  23. ^ "4364.0.55.007 – Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011–12". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 21 December 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  24. ^ "4519.0 – Recorded Crime – Offenders, 2014–15". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 24 February 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  25. ^ "4530.0 – Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2014–15". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  26. ^ "4512.0 – Corrective Services, Australia, March Quarter 2016". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 9 June 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  27. ^ "4517.0 – Prisoners in Australia, 2015". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  28. ^ "Australia Crime Rate & Statistics 1990-2023". macrotrends. 4 May 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2023.
  29. ^ "3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Dec 2015". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  30. ^ "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2014–15". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  31. ^ "3222.0 – Population Projections, Australia, 2012 (base) to 2101". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  32. ^ "3412.0 – Migration, Australia, 2014–15". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  33. ^ "3301.0 – Births, Australia, 2014". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  34. ^ "3302.0 – Deaths, Australia, 2014". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  35. ^ "3401.0 – Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, May 2016". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  36. ^ "4727.0.55.003 – Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Biomedical Results, 2012–13". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 17 December 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  37. ^ "4402.0 – Childhood Education and Care, Australia, June 2014". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  38. ^ "4221.0 – Schools, Australia, 2015". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 5 April 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  39. ^ "6227.0 – Education and Work, Australia, May 2015". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  40. ^ "8166.0 – Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business, 2014–15". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  41. ^ Treasury. "Census and Statistics (Statistical Information) Direction 2017". www.legislation.gov.au. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  42. ^ "1301.0". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  43. ^ "1001.0 – Australian Bureau of Statistics – Annual Report, 2013–14". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016. This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia licence.
  44. ^ "Appointment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Statistician". Department of the Treasury. 28 November 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  45. ^ National (12 December 2014). "David Kalisch new Australian Statistician: Leads Australian Bureau of Statistics after tumultuous year". Canberratimes.com.au. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  46. ^ "Appointment of Australian Statistician". Press Release, Treasurer of Australia. 13 December 2006. Archived from the original on 30 August 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2007.
  47. ^ "The Australian Statistician to retire (Media Release)". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2016.

External links[edit]