Draft Recommendations

21 September 2010 16:17:23


The world is becoming more complex and interconnected. Australia’s changing information priorities (such as for COAG performance reporting, State of Environment reporting, regulatory reform), require a rethink of the purpose of existing statistical infrastructure to ensure we are measuring what counts, and not simply using what is available.

To ensure a relevant national statistical system in the 21st Century, strategic alliances within the community of statistical providers will be critical. Collaboration will improve the accessibility and visibility of government information to enable more open, consultative and participative government, and a better informed society.

To this end, the conference recommends that producers of key statistics across all levels of government and the private sector:

1. Greater focus should be placed on measuring outcomes in the economic, social, demographic, environment and wellbeing domains.  Improved outcome measures and distributions are required for:

·        our quality-of-life

·        household income and wealth

·        sustainability, including our impact on eco-systems and natural resources (an holistic complement to GDP)

·        the impact of Australia’s innovation on productivity and international competitiveness.

2. Better understand and measure the causal pathways and transitions which lead to improved economic, social, demographic, environment and wellbeing outcomes. Deeper analysis of existing data and utilisation of longitudinal collections will aid better policy development for:

·        the multi-dimensional nature of our complex lives

·        coincidence of social gradients and the incidence of multiple disadvantage, especially for the Indigenous community

·        influencing health risk factors to prevent chronic health conditions.

3. Statistical users and producers of key statistical series must work together to use and promote suitable evidence for policy design, delivery, analysis and evaluation. Any shortcomings in the adequacy of the data should be explained to users.

4. More relevant and timely statistical information needs to be made available and searchable to support innovation. This will foster additional research, allowing Australia to reap productivity benefits into the future. Governments should support this by:

·        increasing the level of connectivity and collaboration on innovation;

·        lead the enhancement of frameworks and standards in data creation and use.

5.  Improving the quality (such as relevance, timeliness, accuracy, coverage, coherence, and useability) of economic, social progress, environmental and wellbeing statistics should be a priority for producers of key statistical series.  In particular:

·        enhance measures of technological advances, especially in ICT

·        improve the measurement of non-market services

·        consult with the community to understand community needs

·        partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to set statistical priorities

·        enrich statistics about ‘at risk’ population groups.

6.  Producers of statistical data should improve the availability of data about local communities, to:

·        support policy development and planning for regional infrastructure needs

·        deliver services more efficiently in these small areas

·        empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to more effectively govern their communities.

7.  As Australia’s economy is influenced heavily by our trading partners, Australia should seek to influence international developments in statistics to:

·        address key information gaps, consistent with best practice principles

·         promote internationally comparable data.

Equally, statistical producers in Australia should ensure we adopt national standards and frameworks which are compatible with international practice, and refresh them in a timely manner to reflect Australian conditions.

8. Producers of official statistics at all levels of government should follow best practice to ensure compatibility of concepts, standards and classifications, and eliminate wasteful duplication. Best practice should be identified in a national statistical policy and should:

·        cover data collections, regardless of how these data are collected (administrative data, surveys, censuses etc)

·        include the principles for creating and managing data.

9.  Leverage datasets to unlock all of their potential to shed light on key policy questions (to understand the interactions between our population, economy, and the environment). Data producers should:

·        treat data as a strategic resource, and design and manage all administrative data to support greater statistical and research use

·        link data in a safe and effective environment (which respects the confidentiality and privacy of Australians)

·        accept that additional investment (in terms of time and money) will have long term benefits to Australians (such as when the link between Rubella and deafness was uncovered)

10. As statistics underpin our democracy, Australians must be able to critically evaluate and understand data.  Users and producers of statistics should strongly advocate for enhanced statistical education that will lead to improved statistical literacy.

11. New and enhanced statistical infrastructure is required as a matter of priority in order to identify patterns in the vast amount of information available, rapidly predict consequences, and act on them. Business and statistical organisations should develop and share tools to:

·        enhance visibility, widen access and improve comprehensibility of statistical data, as a means of providing new evidence from existing data, especially at local levels. (if you can better see it, you can better act on it)

·        enhance transferability of data and security of data, to minimise risk

·        collect and manage data, to minimise burden on businesses and households.