NatStats08 Statistical Declaration - Working Together for an Informed Australia in the 21st Century
Working Together for an Informed Australia in the 21st Century
We, the participants at the NatStats 08 conference in Melbourne in November 2008, representing a wide range of interests and perspectives in government, community, business and universities, have agreed on the following declaration to guide the development of a national statistics strategy for Australia in the 21st century:
1. Statistics are vital to the health and progress of Australia's economy, society and environment. They are a critical element of our democracy.
Decision making in the information age
2. We live in an information age that has seen massive growth in the volume and availability of statistics and the technologies by which they can be managed and communicated. Yet valuable information is often wasted or locked away through lack of awareness and understanding, poor sharing practices, and inadequate investment in its maintenance and development. Better statistical policies and programs will improve knowledge, information, planning and decision-making, and therefore the wellbeing outcomes for all Australians.
3. Providing information about whether life is getting better is gathering momentum around the world. Australia has been a leader in developing frameworks for measuring progress. The ambitious and landmark publication Measures of Australia’s Progress, produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, has had an important influence internationally. A complementary focus has emerged through community indicator projects and state development plans.
4. Measuring progress takes a wider view of our wellbeing than economic growth. Understanding and measuring progress on key economic and social issues such as health, education, Indigenous Australia and environmental areas such as water, natural resource management and climate change mitigation has become even more critical in the 21st Century.
Better use of information
5. New technology allows us to measure and organise vast data sources and has presented exciting opportunities to coordinate different data systems and sources into more cohesive information systems and to improve data integration and data linking. To develop world-leading electronic platforms to make statistics available and understandable to citizens and policy-makers we need to improve consistency and transferability between data sets and ensure that statistical information held in administrative/transactional systems is more visible, accessible and useful.
The ABS and the National Statistical Service
6. As Australia's official, independent statistical agency, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) enjoys a high degree of trust providing authoritative and reliable statistics to the nation. The ABS should continue to play a leading role as statistics become increasingly important for governance, knowledge and democracy in the 21st century.
7. However, the ABS is not the only contributor to a fully developed national statistical service. In many private and public organisations, statistical data of all kinds - scientific, spatial, administrative - are starting to be recognised and valued as strategic assets. Effective coordination and collaboration, especially across all levels of government, are essential to fully realise the benefits of these assets.
8. The ability to understand and evaluate statistics that permeate our daily lives is an essential building block of basic numeracy skills. Improving statistical skills should be part of the curriculum in all levels of education, as well as in training programs in government, business and the wider community.