Australian Bureau of Statistics
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

's national statistical
Statistics is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation of data. It deals with all aspects of this, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments....

Government agency
A government or state agency is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an intelligence agency. There is a notable variety of agency types...

. It was created as the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics on 8 December 1905, when the Census and Statistics Act 1905 was given Royal assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

. It had its beginnings in section 51 (xi) of the Constitution of Australia
Constitution of Australia
The Constitution of Australia is the supreme law under which the Australian Commonwealth Government operates. It consists of several documents. The most important is the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia...

. The newly formed Federation
Federation of Australia
The Federation of Australia was the process by which the six separate British self-governing colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia formed one nation...

 recognised that statistics were going to be important for the Commonwealth government.

Population and housing

The agency undertakes the Australian Census
Census in Australia
The Australian census is administered once every five years by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The most recent census was conducted on 9 August 2011; the next will be conducted in 2016. Prior to the introduction of regular censuses in 1961, they had also been run in 1901, 1911, 1921, 1933,...

 of Population and Housing. The Census is conducted every five years under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905, Section 8. The last Australian population census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

 was held on 8 August 2006. Results from the 2006 Census are available on the ABS web site.

The previous census took place on 9 August 2011.

Research and development

The ABS has been undertaking surveys to collect estimates from Australian organisations of R&D expenditure
In production, research, retail, and accounting, a cost is the value of money that has been used up to produce something, and hence is not available for use anymore. In business, the cost may be one of acquisition, in which case the amount of money expended to acquire it is counted as cost. In this...

 and human resources
Human resources
Human resources is a term used to describe the individuals who make up the workforce of an organization, although it is also applied in labor economics to, for example, business sectors or even whole nations...

 devoted to R&D in Australia since 1978. The results allow the nature and distribution of Australia's R&D activity to be monitored by government policy analysts and advisers to government, businesses and economists.

There are four Research & Development surveys:
  • R&D Business survey, conducted annually
  • R&D Higher Education survey, conducted biennially by the ABS since 1994; in 1990 and 1992 it was collected by Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs
  • R&D General Government survey, conducted biennially
  • R&D Private Non-profit Sector survey, conducted biennially


The ABS survey reports research against the Australian Standard Research Classification (ASRC). The first ASRC was released in 1993 and was in use until 1998. It comprised three classification schemes; Type of Activity (TOA), Field of Research (FOR) and Socio-Economic Objective (SEO). In 1998, a second ASRC was released with a revised Socio-Economic Objective classification that used a different numbering range, and a Research Field, Course and Discipline (RFCD) classification to replace FORs. This revised classification came into effect in the 2000 collection period, which was due on 31 August 2001. For the 2008 collection, RFCDs were replaced by Field of Research (FOR) codes.

Other ABS surveys

The ABS also undertakes many other surveys, including household and business surveys. Some of the main statistics produced are published as "Key National Indicators", which comprise:
  • National Accounts (includes Gross Domestic Product
    Gross domestic product
    Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

  • Internation Accounts
  • Consumption and Investment
  • Production
  • Prices (includes Consumer Price Index
    Consumer price index
    A consumer price index measures changes in the price level of consumer goods and services purchased by households. The CPI, in the United States is defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as "a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of...

  • Labour Force and Demography
  • Incomes
  • Housing Finance

These statistics are compiled from surveys including:
  • Retail (monthly/quarterly)
  • Labour Force (monthly)
  • Building Approvals (monthly/quarterly)
  • Survey of New Capital Expenditure (quarterly)
  • Quarterly Business Indicator Survey (quarterly)
  • Local Government Finance Statistics (quarterly)
  • Economic Activity Survey (annual)

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) collects information on the social situation of Indigenous Australians
Indigenous Australians
Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands. The Aboriginal Indigenous Australians migrated from the Indian continent around 75,000 to 100,000 years ago....

 (who are either Aboriginal Australians or Torres Strait Islanders
Torres Strait Islanders
Torres Strait Islanders are the indigenous people of the Torres Strait Islands, part of Queensland, Australia. They are culturally and genetically linked to Melanesian peoples and those of Papua New Guinea....

), including on health, education, culture and labour force participation. The survey started in 2002 and is carried out every six years.

Year Book Australia

The ABS produces an annual year book for Australia, called the Year Book Australia, which is the principal reference work produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It provides a comprehensive and detailed statistical overview of various aspects of the economy and social conditions in Australia.

In addition, it contains descriptive matter dealing with Australia’s geography and climate, government, international relations
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

, defence, education, and the health and welfare support systems.

In April 2008, the ABS announced the cancellation of the 2009 Year Book due to budgetary constraints.

Australian Statistician

Since 1975, the head of the ABS has been known as the Australian Statistician. Previously, the office was titled the Commonwealth Statistician. A full list of all office-holders is at Australian Statistician
Australian Statistician
The Australian Statistician is the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.On 18 June 1906, the first Statistician of the Commonwealth of Australia was appointed to carry out the provisions of the Census and Statistics Act 1905...


The incumbent (since March 2007) is Brian Pink
Brian Pink
Brian Pink has been the Australian Statistician, the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics , since 5 March 2007.Prior to September 1999, Brian Pink was ABS's Statistical Support Group Manager, when he was appointed as the Government Statistician for New Zealand and Chief Executive of...


Australian CensusAtSchool project

The Australian CensusAtSchool is based on a program developed by the Royal Statistical Society
Royal Statistical Society
The Royal Statistical Society is a learned society for statistics and a professional body for statisticians in the UK.-History:It was founded in 1834 as the Statistical Society of London , though a perhaps unrelated London Statistical Society was in existence at least as early as 1824...

 (RSS) Centre for Statistical Education in the United Kingdom. The UK project has been extremely successful in improving statistical literacy and was successfully extended to all provinces in South Africa. Since then, other organisations have adapted the project to suit their local environment, namely Canada, New Zealand, the Office of Economic and Statistical Research (OESR) in Queensland and the Noel Baker Centre for School Mathematics in South Australia. After the success of the OESR and Noel Baker initiatives, agreement was gained from both the South Australian and Queensland projects for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to take the national lead in this project.

The project was introduced to schools in 2005 by the ABS with two key objectives:
  • the development of statistical literacy among students in years 5 - 12 across Australia
  • to promote the 2006 Census of Population and Housing

CenusAtSchool is a non-compulsory education project that aims to improve statistical literacy through analysis of real data, and assist them in making sensible, informed decisions. It is a free internet-based data collection and analysis project designed for students in years 5 to 12. Students respond to questions of interest about themselves by completing the CensusAtSchool online questionnaire. The questionnaire response data is then released back to teachers and students providing real, raw, relevant data for use with supporting activities across curriculum in all states and territories.
Students can generate random samples of response data from an Australia-wide database via the Random Sampler facility. This statistical tool allows students to extract a wealth of up-to-date information about sleeping and eating habits, student lifestyles, favourite music and sport activity, attitudes to topical social and environmental issues, technology and much more.

See also

  • Census in Australia
    Census in Australia
    The Australian census is administered once every five years by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The most recent census was conducted on 9 August 2011; the next will be conducted in 2016. Prior to the introduction of regular censuses in 1961, they had also been run in 1901, 1911, 1921, 1933,...

  • Demographics of Australia
    Demographics of Australia
    This article is about the demographic features of the population of Australia, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religions, and other aspects of the population....

    Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification was jointly developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Statistics New Zealand in order to make it easier to compare industry statistics between the two countries and with the rest of the world.The 2006 edition of the ANZSIC...

     - Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification - an industry classification developed jointly with Statistics New Zealand
    Statistics New Zealand
    Statistics New Zealand is the national statistical office of New Zealand.-Organisation:New Zealand's Minister of Statistics is Maurice Williamson who serves as a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives and holds several other posts within government...

External links

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