The Regional Statistics Program aims to understand and support high priority emerging needs for regional statistics through providing relevant analyses, products and services. Regional data may include data relating to cities, urban, rural or remote areas. Activities undertaken under the program include improving access to, and dissemination of, ABS data and data from other sources and developing new indicators.
The activities of the Regional Statistics Program are led by the Rural and Regional Statistics National Centre, and is delivered through collaboration with many areas of the ABS which contribute regional data or analysis on a wide range of topics across economic, environment and social statistics. The program assists policy analysts and researchers to understand the characteristics of regions and change in regions across Australia, with current issues centring on regional population sustainability, local economic development, and service or infrastructure access in regions. All three tiers of government require regional data so ABS actively engages with the Australian Government, State and Local governments to understand and support regional data needs. The main focal point for engagement with the Australian Government is with the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport. The ABS also engages with a wide range of data users to provide professional advice to help data users to decide what regional data to use for analysis and to understand statistical issues that may arise in regional analyses (e.g. time series or data quality issues).
Over the next four years, a particular focus of this program will be on improving access to regional data and supporting users in the transition to the new ABS standard geography (Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). In the next two years, the regional analysis program will focus on making the best use of the 2011 ABS Census of Population and Housing to support regional policy analysis. An ongoing focus will be on utilising administrative data maintained by Australian, State and Territory government agencies, where data have a location identifier with the potential to be used to improve availability of regional data and in presenting the data spatially.
The main outputs of the program are:
- the National Regional Profile (ABS cat. no. 1379.0.55.001), a web-based suite of statistics for regions containing data spanning five years and updated at least annually
- estimates and indicators from administrative data, such as the Australian Taxation Office personal income tax data, and data on customers of Centrelink and other agencies
- Perspectives on Regional Australia (ABS cat. nos: 1380.0.55.001, 1380.0.55.002, and subsequent), a series of publications analysing, at varying geographic levels, a range of topics with a particular focus on regions in Australia
The main medium-term developments in the program are to:
- actively engage with key data users to understand emerging priority data needs for regional statistics – ongoing
- build collaborative working arrangements with users and producers of regional statistics – ongoing
- improve ABS dissemination of information about regional data access and availability through the Regional Topics @ a Glance page on the ABS website, Perspectives on Regions articles, and other appropriate avenues, such as through client networks, conferences, seminars and workshops – ongoing
- deliver an improved National Regional Profile product by progressively building in more flexibility for users to more easily access and use whatever data is available for the regions they are interested in – ongoing
- provide analysis and guidance to demonstrate how the new ASGS can be applied to a range of different regional analysis – such as analysis of local economies, social conditions or service access – ongoing.
Gemma Van Halderen
& Social Analysis Branch
Topics @ a Glance, Regional
Information Paper: Regional Research in Australia – the Statistical Dimension: an Information Development Plan for Rural and Regional Statistics (ABS cat. no. 1362.0)
National Regional Profile (ABS cat. no. 1379.0.55.001)