Final NatStats 2010 Conference Recommendations

19 October 2010 10:16:59

Building on the Declaration arising out of the NatStats08 Conference, the NatStats 2010 Conference has produced this set of Conference Recommendations.



Preamble:
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 continuous adaptation of the national statistical system to ensure we are measuring what counts, and not simply using what is available.

To gain a complete picture of our nation, it is critical to understand the interactions and dependencies between the economy, environment and society: the relationships between inputs such as natural and other resources; contributors to productivity, for instance technology, innovation, human capital etc; outputs such as goods and services; and outcomes encompassing wellbeing and societal progress. Statistics play an important role in achieving this understanding, and while Australia's national statistical system is strong, future domestic challenges and the impacts of the global economy mean that we must be vigilant in ensuring our statistics remain compatible with our changing needs.

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 across agencies of government, both state and commonwealth, and other organisations which comprise the National Statistical Service:

Improving the Statistical System
1. Greater focus be placed on measuring outcomes across the economy, environment and society. Improved outcome measures and frameworks are required for:
2. Better understanding and measurement of 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 that takes account of:
3.  Improve the quality (relevance, timeliness, accuracy, coverage, coherence, useability and accessibility) of economic, social and environmental statistics, and in particular:
4.  Producers of official statistics should make the data they collect freely available to citizens and local communities, to:
Standards, policies and tools
5. Producers of official statistics at all levels of government should follow best practice to ensure consistent application of concepts, standards and classifications, and eliminate duplication. Best practice should be identified in a national statistical policy and should:
6. New and enhanced statistical infrastructure is required, to identify patterns in the expanding volume of information available, predict consequences, and enable timely action. Business and statistical organisations should develop and share tools to:
7.  Leverage datasets to unlock their potential to shed light on key policy questions (to understand the interactions between our population, economy, and the environment). Governments should:
Understanding Statistics
8. As statistics underpin our democracy, public accountability of government and decision making at all levels are enhanced if Australians are able to critically evaluate and understand statistics.  Noting the different capabilities required for communicating, interpreting, analysing and applying statistics, users and producers of statistics should both advocate and take practical measures to support enhanced statistical education that will lead to improved statistical literacy.

9. Statistical users and producers must work together to use and promote suitable evidence for policy design, delivery, analysis and evaluation of government programs. Statistical users and producers:
Australia in the Global Economy
10.  The shape of Australia's economy and society is influenced by our changing relationship with the rest of the world, and in particular by our trading partners, strategic alliances and near neighbours. Understanding and responding to the challenges posed by our place in the world requires robust and comparable international statistics. Australia should therefore seek to influence international developments in statistics to:

Progressing the Conference Recommendations
To identify and monitor progress against the actions outlined in the Conference Recommendations, the  Australian Bureau of Statistics will document activities in the ABS forward work program which will contribute to advancing the Recommendations. The ABS will also engage with other producers of official statistics to identify and document relevant activities in their forward work programs. Progress against the actions outlined in the Conference Recommendations will be reported back to the Australian Statistics Advisory Council and at the next NatStats Conference.

NatStats 2010 Final Conference Recommendations.pdf