Final NatStats 2010 Conference Recommendations
19 October 2010 10:16:59 AM
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 System1. Greater focus be placed on measuring outcomes across the economy, environment and society. Improved outcome measures and frameworks are required for:
- our quality-of-life and wellbeing
- household income and wealth
- environmental sustainability, including the impact of human activity on eco-systems and natural resources
- the impact of Australia’s innovation on productivity and international competitiveness.
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:
- the multi-dimensional nature of our complex lives
- the coincidence of social gradients and the incidence of multiple disadvantage, especially for the Indigenous community
- the circumstances affecting subpopulations, such as people with a disability, women, children and youth
- the complex risk factors that drive chronic health conditions.
3. Improve the quality (relevance, timeliness, accuracy, coverage, coherence, useability and accessibility) of economic, social and environmental statistics, and in particular:
- enhance measures of technological advances, especially in ICT
- improve the measurement of the contribution of non-market services in macro-economic statistics
- enhance the capacity for data series to allow finer analysis of ‘at risk’ and vulnerable population groups
- enhanced education/training and labour statistics, including measures of human capital stock
- enhancing data on the production and consumption of services, domestically and internationally
- expand community consultation processes to understand community needs and ensure these are taken into account in the design of official statistics
- partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to understand their key requirements as input to setting statistical priorities
4. Producers of official statistics should make the data they collect freely available to citizens and 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.
Standards, policies and tools5. 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:
- cover data collections, regardless of source (administrative data, surveys, censuses etc)
- include agreed principles for creating and managing data.
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:
- enhance visibility, widen access and improve comprehensibility of official statistics, 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 and security of data, to minimise risk in data collection and management, and to minimise burden on businesses, households, and sub-population groups of particular policy interest.
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:
- treat data as a strategic resource across all levels of government, 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 statistics (in terms of time and money) needs to recognise the long term benefits to Australians (such as the 40 year time gap in establishing the link between Rubella and deafness).
Understanding Statistics8. 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:
- should be engaged at the point at which policy development and program design are initiated to enhance the development and use of relevant evidence in analysis, delivery and evaluation
- must clearly communicate the quality and fitness for purpose of data
- must continue to improve the telling of statistical stories so that they are understood and used appropriately.
Australia in the Global Economy10. 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:
- address key information gaps, consistent with best practice principles
- promote internationally comparable data and frameworks to support this.
Progressing the Conference RecommendationsTo 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
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