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Country Profile of Australia

Main statistical agency
Main statistical agency name
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
Web address
Position in the government
The Australian Statistician reports to the Australian Treasurer (a member of parliament) on administrative issues only.
Organizational structure and finance
The ABS produces and disseminates statistics under the following broad programs:

. Macroeconomics and Integration Statistics
. Population, Labour, Industry and Environment Statistics
. Social Statistics

These areas of statistics involve extensive data collection through censuses and surveys and
from administrative data sources.

The statistical programs are supported by service areas, which deliver assistance and advice on
statistical methods, data and metadata arrangements, information technology, client
management, dissemination, human resources and other corporate services.

The ABS has a central office in Canberra and regional offices located in the eight state and
territory capitals. Regional offices are primarily responsible for the delivery of statistical services
to their state or territory. All regional offices, apart from the ACT office, have some
responsibilities for national operations for particular statistical activities.
Multi-annual or annual work program
ABS has a 3-year work program.
Main duties
ABS's main duties are:

To Assist and encourage informed decision making, research and discussion within governments and the community, by leading a high quality, objective and responsive national statistical service.

Brief history and other relevant background information
Brief history and other relevant background information
For over 100 years the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and its predecessor the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, has provided a national statistical service to the Australian community.

The Australian statistical landscape, prior to and immediately following Federation in 1901, was coordinated by frequent Conferences of Statisticians, involving the Statists (the Heads of the State Statistical Offices). The meetings were to discuss statistical issues and agree on measures to aid in the consistency of statistics across the states and it was through these meetings that some of the Statists were beginning to see the advantages in the prospect of a national statistical authority that might lend its weight to the decisions of the conferences.

In 1905 the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (CBCS) was established according with the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

In 1924 the Tasmanian Statistical Office was transferred to the CBCS, with the merger of the all other SSO's accomplished in the late 1950s.

In 1974 an Australian Government review recommended the establishment of a central statistical authority with full statutory powers that was administratively independent of any department and thereby perceived to be policy neutral. The Australian Statistician was to be a statutory appointee vested with the powers of a head of department under the Public Service Act 1975. This review led to the development of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975. Under this Act the Australian Bureau of Statistics was established with the role of the central statistical authority for the Australian Government and, by arrangements, for the governments of the states and territories.

Legal basis
Legal basis
The principal legislation determining the functions and responsibilities of the Australian Bureau of Statistics are the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 and the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 establishes the ABS as an independent statutory authority, defines the functions of the ABS, establishes the office of Australian Statistician and describes the terms under which the Australian Statistician can be appointed to, and removed from, office. The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 also provides for the appointment of the staff of the ABS and establishes the Australian Statistics Advisory Council.

Census and Statistics Act 1905

The Census and Statistics Act 1905 (CSA) provides the Australian Statistician with the authority to conduct statistical collections, including the Census of Population and Housing, and, when necessary, to direct a person to provide statistical information. The Act requires the ABS to publish and disseminate compilations and analyses of statistical information and to maintain the confidentiality of information collected under the Act.

Section 13 of the CSA provides for the Minister to make determinations providing for the disclosure, with the approval in writing of the Australian Statistician, of information included in a specified class of information furnished in pursuance of that Act. The Statistics Determination is such a determination and provides for the release of a very restricted range of information under special circumstances.

Section 9 of the CSA provides for the Australian Statistician to collect such statistical information in relation to matters prescribed as he or she considers appropriate. Matters in relation to which the Australian Statistician may collect statistical information are prescribed in the Statistics Regulations.

Section 8 of the CSA provides for the Australian Statistician to take a Census of Population and Housing every five years. For the purposes of taking the census, the matters in relation to which the Australian Statistician may collect statistical information are prescribed in the Census Regulations.

Other producers of official statistics
Other producers of official statistics
a. Australian Institute of Health

b. Axiss Australia

c. Reserve Bank of Australia

d. Australian National University

e. Line bureaus and departments (Bureau of Tourism Research, Bureau of Transport Economics, Commonwealth Department of Transport and Regional Services, etc.)

Coordination mechanisms: The Statistical Clearing House (SCH) is the central clearance point for all Australian Government surveys involving 50 or more businesses; with the aim of eliminating duplication and ensuring that best practices are followed when designing and conducting business surveys.

Statistical advisory bodies
Statistical advisory bodies
The main statistical advisory body for the ABS is the Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC). ASAC was established in 1975 under the authority of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975.

Data collection
Most recent population census
8 August 2006
Access to administrative data
ABS has access to tax, customs, and birth/deaths registration data.
Data confidentiality
The Census and Statistics Act 1905 (CSA) prohibits the disclosure of identifiable information of a personal or domestic nature and requires that information can only be published in a manner that is not likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation.

The secrecy provisions of the CSA provides a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a penalty of 2 years imprisonment for an unauthorised disclosure of information collected under the Act.

The ABS's long-standing record for preserving the confidentiality of information provided to it is widely respected.

Data dissemination
Release calendar (existence, when and how published)
ABS publishes an advance release calendar on a weekly basis.
Main publications
The Australian Bureau of Statistic (ABS) provides a web-based information service - with its full range of products available online and updated on a daily basis.

All ABS information is available free of charge on the web site.

The web site allows you to conveniently access:

. free summary information including Main Features, Media Releases, Release Advices and Australia Now - the latest statistical profile on the nation and extensive linking between related information;

. all ABS publications from 1998 onwards, mostly in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf);

. a large number of spreadsheets containing economic and social time series data;

. Data Cubes in the form of multidimensional datasets in SuperTABLE format and Excel spreadsheets; and

. Regional Profiles and Census Data.
Languages of main publications
How are data disseminated (Paper, CD Rom, Website, online databases, databanks)?
See 'Main publications' above.
Availability of microdata for research purposes
Access to anonymous microdata is enabled by legislation with some constraints.

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