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Australian Bureau of Statistics
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Agency overview
Formed8 December 1905; 118 years ago (1905-12-08)
Preceding agency
  • Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics
JurisdictionAustralian Government
HeadquartersCanberra, Australian Capital Territory
Employees3779 (at 30 June 2021)[1][failed verification]
Annual budgetAUS$ $172.7 million (over four years from 2023–24)[2]
Minister responsible
Agency executives
  • David Gruen, Australian Statistician[4]
  • Brenton Goldsworthy, Deputy Australian Statistician, Insights and Statistics Group
  • Teresa Dickinson, Deputy Australian Statistician, Data and Statistical Practices Group
  • Jenet Connell, Deputy Australian Statistician, Enterprise Services Group and Acting Chief Operating Officer
Parent departmentTreasury
Websiteabs.gov.au

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is an Australian Government agency that collects and analyses statistics on economic, population, environmental, and social issues to advise the Australian Government.[5]

The bureau's function originated in the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, established in 1905, four years after Federation of Australia; it took on its present name in 1975.[6][7] The ABS conducts Australia's Census of Population and Housing every five years and publishes its findings online.

History

Efforts to count the population of Australia started in 1795 with "musters" that involved physically gathering a community to be counted, a practice that continued until 1825. The first colonial censuses were conducted in New South Wales in 1828; in Tasmania in 1841; South Australia in 1844; Western Australia in 1848; and Victoria in 1854.[8] Each colony continued to collect statistics separately despite attempts to coordinate collections through an annual Conference of Statisticians. The first simultaneous census across all the Australian colonies occurred in 1881.[8] A national statistical office was subsequently proposed to develop comparable statistics.[9]

The Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (CBCS) was established under the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Sir George Handley Knibbs was appointed as the first Commonwealth Statistician. The bureau was located in Melbourne – at that time the temporary seat of federal government – attached to the Department of Home Affairs. In 1928, the bureau relocated to Canberra, where in 1932 it was subsumed within the Department of the Treasury.[9]

The first national census, which deployed about 7300 collectors, occurred in 1911.[8] Although coordination and data sharing were facilitated by CBCS, each state in Australia initially had its own statistical office and worked with the CBCS to produce national data. Some states faced challenges in providing a satisfactory statistical service through their own offices, resulting in mergers with the CBCS. The Tasmanian Statistical Office was transferred to the CBCS in 1924, and the New South Wales Bureau of Statistics amalgamated into it in 1957.[10] The final unification of all state statistical offices with the CBCS occurred in the late 1950s under the guidance of Sir Stanley Carver, who was the New South Wales Statistician acting as the Commonwealth Statistician.[9]

In 1974, the CBCS was abolished and replaced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 established the ABS as a statutory authority headed by the Australian Statistician, who reported to the federal Treasurer.[9]

In 2015, the Australian Government announced a $250 million five-year investment in the ABS to modernise its systems and processes.[11]

Census of population and housing

Main article: Census in Australia

Once every 5 years, the ABS conducts the Australian Census of Population and Housing as stipulated under federal law in the Constitution of Australia.[12] The most recent was conducted on 10 August 2021.[13] Statistics from the census were published on the ABS website in June 2022.[14]

The census aims to accurately measure the population, number of dwellings in Australia, and a range of their key characteristics. Census data is used for defining electoral boundaries, planning infrastructure, establishing community services, and formulating public policy.[15]

2016 census

Main article: 2016 Australian census

In 2016, the ABS conducted its census largely online through its website and logins rather than through paper forms.[16] The bureau took the form offline for 43 hours from 8:09 pm on 9 August until 2:29 pm on 11 August.[17][18] On 10 August, the Australian Statistician, David Kalisch, stated that the website was closed after denial-of-service attacks from an overseas source targeted the online form; "the first three were successfully repelled and the fourth one caused the difficulty that then led us to bring the system down as a precaution".[19] A comprehensive review by Alastair MacGibbon, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security, tabled in October, concluded that five distributed denial-of-service attacks – in which incoming traffic from many different sources "floods" the site – had occurred. They had been much smaller than attacks experienced by other Australian Government websites and the preventable outages had resulted from a failed geoblocking strategy, compounded by a hardware failure when the contractor, IBM, attempted to reboot the system after the fourth attack. There was no indication that the census data was insecure or was compromised. Many recommendations of the review included that the ABS should strengthen its approach to managing the performance of outsourced ICT suppliers and that the ABS "should draw upon the lessons it takes from the Census experience to help to guide and to advocate for the cultural change path it is following".[17]

A Senate inquiry was held into the 2016 census, reporting in November and making 16 recommendations including externally conducted privacy impact assessments, engagement with the non-government sector, reporting breaches of census-related data, open tendering, and stability in funding the bureau.[20] An independent panel was also established by the Australian Statistician to help to ensure the quality of the 2016 census.[21]

2021 census

Main article: 2021 Australian census

The 2021 census was conducted during the height of the global Covid-19 pandemic. In obtaining data from 10,852,208 dwellings, it exceeded the ABS target. The dwelling response rate was 96.1%, an increase from 95.1% in 2016.[22]

Publications

The ABS publishes monthly and quarterly economic information spanning interest rates, property prices, employment, the value of the Australian dollar, and commodity prices. Publications include things such as: the Key Economic Indicators, Consumer Price Index, Australian National Accounts, Average Weekly Earnings, and Labour Force.

Other major publications

Outside the main economic indicators, the ABS has several other major publications covering topics including:

In August 2017, the Treasurer issued a directive to the ABS to undertake a statistical collection into the views of Australians on the electoral roll about same-sex marriage.[41] This is now referred to as the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.

The ABS previously published the Yearbook Australia, from 1908 to 2012 under various ISSNs and titles (Commonwealth yearbook, Official yearbook of the Commonwealth of Australia).[42]

The ABS publishes an annual report with a detailed description of the bureau's activities during the preceding year, accounting for its use of public resources and performance against planned outcomes.[43]

International engagement

The ABS engages in international and regional statistical forums including the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Committee on Statistics and Statistical Policy (CSSP), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Conference for European Statisticians (CES).

The ABS has a partnership with DFAT to deliver statistical and institutional capability building programs for the Indo-Pacific region, both in-country and by hosting development visits. The ABS has also hosted international development and study visits from countries including China, Japan, Canada, Korea, and Nepal.[44]

Australian Statistician

Main article: Australian Statistician

Since 1975, the head of the ABS has been known as the "Australian Statistician". The title has been previously known as the "Commonwealth Statistician".

The incumbent since 11 December 2019 is David Gruen.[45] Previous incumbents have included David Kalisch[46] and Brian Pink.[47] Pink retired in January 2014.[48] Ian Ewing acted in the role from 13 January to 14 February 2014, and Jonathan Palmer acted from 17 February to 12 December 2014.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Australian Bureau of Statistics – Annual Report 2020–21". transparency.gov.au. 16 September 2021. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  2. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (2023). "Budget funding supports new data and security uplift". Retrieved 2 December 2023.
  3. ^ "Administrative Arrangements Order". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 23 June 2022. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  4. ^ "Dr David Gruen, Australian Statistician". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 12 December 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  5. ^ "ABS Institutional Environment". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 15 December 2023.
  6. ^ "Australian Bureau of Statistics". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3 November 2023. Retrieved 6 November 2023.
  7. ^ "Building a national statistical agency: From the Commonwealth. Bureau of Census and Statistics to the Australian Bureau of Statistics" (PDF). United Nations Statistics Division. 2005. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 December 2023.
  8. ^ a b c "History of the Census". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 26 December 2023.
  9. ^ a b c d "History of the ABS". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 24 July 2008. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Bureau of Statistics". Record agency. NSW State Archives & Records. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Government to tip $250M into ABS to modernise IT". CIO. Retrieved 5 December 2023.
  12. ^ "Senate Inquiry Report into the 2016 Census". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  13. ^ "2021 Census product release guide". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 21 July 2022. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  14. ^ "2021 Census snapshot: Australia has doubled in size over the last 50 years". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 28 June 2022. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  15. ^ "The Australian Census". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 May 2022. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  16. ^ "Get online on August 9". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  17. ^ a b MacGibbon, Alastair (13 October 2016). "Review of the events surrounding the 2016 eCensus: improving institutional cyber security culture and practices across the Australian Government". parlinfo.aph.gov.au. Retrieved 13 October 2016. Download PDF
  18. ^ "2016 census – online form update: 3.00 pm, August 11" (Press release). Australian Bureau of Statistics. 11 August 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  19. ^ "ABS Chief Statistician reveals to ABC NewsRadio the census website was taken down after four cyber-attacks from an overseas source". abc.net.au/newsradio. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 10 August 2016. Archived from the original on 11 August 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  20. ^ "2016 Census: issues of trust". Parliament of Australia. 24 November 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  21. ^ "2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia, 2016". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 June 2017. Archived from the original on 26 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  22. ^ "2021 Census snapshot: Australia has doubled in size over the last 50 years". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 28 June 2022. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  23. ^ "4364.0.55.007 – Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011–12". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 21 December 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  24. ^ "4519.0 – Recorded Crime – Offenders, 2014–15". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 24 February 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  25. ^ "4530.0 – Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2014–15". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  26. ^ "4512.0 – Corrective Services, Australia, March Quarter 2016". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 9 June 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  27. ^ "4517.0 – Prisoners in Australia, 2015". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  28. ^ "Australia Crime Rate & Statistics 1990-2023". macrotrends. 4 May 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2023.
  29. ^ "3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Dec 2015". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  30. ^ "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2014–15". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  31. ^ "3222.0 – Population Projections, Australia, 2012 (base) to 2101". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  32. ^ "3412.0 – Migration, Australia, 2014–15". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  33. ^ "3301.0 – Births, Australia, 2014". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  34. ^ "3302.0 – Deaths, Australia, 2014". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  35. ^ "3401.0 – Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, May 2016". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  36. ^ "4727.0.55.003 – Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Biomedical Results, 2012–13". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 17 December 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  37. ^ "4402.0 – Childhood Education and Care, Australia, June 2014". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  38. ^ "4221.0 – Schools, Australia, 2015". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 5 April 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  39. ^ "6227.0 – Education and Work, Australia, May 2015". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  40. ^ "8166.0 – Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business, 2014–15". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  41. ^ Treasury. "Census and Statistics (Statistical Information) Direction 2017". www.legislation.gov.au. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  42. ^ "1301.0". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  43. ^ "Annual reports". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2024. Retrieved 24 March 2024.
  44. ^ "1001.0 – Australian Bureau of Statistics – Annual Report, 2013–14". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2 August 2016. This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia licence.
  45. ^ "Appointment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Statistician". Department of the Treasury. 28 November 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  46. ^ National (12 December 2014). "David Kalisch new Australian Statistician: Leads Australian Bureau of Statistics after tumultuous year". Canberratimes.com.au. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  47. ^ "Appointment of Australian Statistician". Press Release, Treasurer of Australia. 13 December 2006. Archived from the original on 30 August 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2007.
  48. ^ "The Australian Statistician to retire (Media Release)". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2016.