Latest Preliminary Conference Recommendations

17 September 2010 10:58:42

Australian’s changing information priorities (such as for COAG performance reporting, for State of Environment reporting, for regulatory reform), require a rethink of the purpose of existing statistical infrastructure to ensure we are measuring what counts, and not counting what we measure.

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:

1.        Greater focus should be placed on measuring outcomes in the economic, social, demographic, environment and wellbeing domains.
       Improved outcome measures are required for:
a.        our quality-of-life
b.        equitable distribution of income and wealth
c.        sustainability, including the capacity of eco-systems to absorb pollution etc, and the use of natural resources
d.        the impact of Australia’s innovation on productivity and international competitiveness

2. (Because innovation is a key driver of productivity and sustainability), 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;
·        lead the enhancement of frameworks and standards in data creation and use.

3. Improving the quality (such as relevance, accuracy, coverage, coherence, and useability) of existing statistics of the economy, social progress, and wellbeing should be a priority for producers of key statistical series.

    In particular:

·        enhance measures of technological advances, particularly ICT
·        improve the availability of data about local communities, to support policy development and planning for regional infrastructure needs, and for efficient delivery of services in these small areas
·        improve the measurement of non-market services
·        consult with the community to understand community needs.

4. (Australia’s economy is influenced heavily by our trading partners), Australia should seek to influence international developments in statistics to promote internationally comparable data, consistent with best practice principles. Equally, statistical producers in Australia should adopt national standards and frameworks which are compatible with international practice, and refresh them regularly to reflect Australian conditions.

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

6.  Producers of statistical data should follow best practice to improve return from investment in statistical resources.  Best practice should be identified in a national statistical policy and should cover all data collections regardless of how it is collected (administrative data, surveys, censuses etc).

7.  We must use existing and new datasets to unlock all of their potential, enabling additional analysis to address key policy questions (such as interactions between our population, economy, and environment).
Responsible agencies should:
·        treat data as a strategic resource, and design and manage 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)
This will have long term benefits to Australians (such as when the link between Rubella and deafness was uncovered)

8. 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.