Australian Bureau of Statistics

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Contents >> General Information >> Overview of the ABS

Overview of the ABS


The ABS is Australia’s official national statistical agency. It was established as the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, following enactment of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. The agency became the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1975 with the passing of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975. This Act also established the role of the Australian Statistician and defined the functions of the ABS.

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The Role of the ABS
The ABS provides statistics on a wide range of economic, social, population and environmental matters for government, business and the community. It also has a legislated role to coordinate the statistical operations of official bodies and liaise with international organisations.

ABS Mission
We assist and encourage informed decision making, research and discussion within governments and the community, by leading a high quality, objective and responsive national statistical service.

Census and Statistics Act 1905

  • Provides the legislative authority to undertake the Census of Population and Housing and other statistical collections
  • Provides the Australian Statistician with the power to direct a person to supply information
  • Requires the ABS to publish the results of its collections
  • Imposes strict secrecy provisions on officers of the ABS.

Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975
  • Establishes and ensures the independence of both the ABS and the Australian Statistician
  • Describes the functions of the ABS
  • Requires ABS to advise Parliament of proposals for new collections
  • Establishes the Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC)
  • Requires ABS and ASAC to report to Parliament each year.

ABS Functions
  • To constitute the central statistical authority for the Australian Government and by arrangements with the Governments of the States and Territories provide statistical services for those Governments
  • To collect, compile, analyse and disseminate statistics and related information on a wide range of economic and social matters
  • To formulate, and ensure compliance with, statistical standards
  • To ensure coordination of the statistical operations of official bodies
  • To provide advice and assistance to official bodies in relation to statistics
  • To liaise with statistical agencies of other countries and international organisations.

Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC)
  • Advises the Minister and the Australian Statistician on:
  • the improvement, extension and coordination of statistical services provided for public purposes in Australia
  • annual and longer-term priorities and programs of work that should be undertaken by the ABS
  • any other matters relating to those statistical services.

Corporate Governance – Key Fora
  • ABS Management Meetings
  • Executive Leadership Group Meetings
  • Senior Management Group Meetings
  • Protective Security Management Committee
  • Audit Committee
  • Strategic Finance and Investment Committee.

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