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1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2013  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/11/2013   
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Measures of Australia's Progress

Appreciating the environment

Australians aspire to appreciate the natural environment and people's connection with it
Graph Image for Domestic trips involving nature activities - Headline version

Footnote(s): (a) Includes both overnight and day trips. (b) See the glossary on the further info page for a definition of 'Nature activities'. (c) People aged 15 years or over. ;(a) Includes both overnight and day trips. (b) See the glossary on the further info page for a definition of 'Nature activities'. (c) People aged 15 years or over.

Source(s): Tourism Research Australia 2013 (unpublished data); ABS Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2012 (cat. no. 3235.0); Tourism Research Australia 2013 (unpublished data); ABS Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2012 (cat. no. 3235.0)

Image: Tilde - Not changed greatly

Appreciation of the environment in Australia has not changed greatly since 2004

    Indicator: Number of domestic trips involving nature activities per capita

    Why is this theme important?

    Australians told us that they want the natural environment valued in many ways. People depend on the environment; it provides us with air, water, food, shelter and other things that we need to live. The environment was seen to contribute to the economy by providing resources and supporting industries. People saw it as particularly important that the value of the environment is taken into account when decisions are made that might affect it and that access to information is crucial in supporting this. Part of appreciating the environment is having access to the opportunities it provides for enjoyment, reflection and inspiration. The environment was seen to have a different meaning for different people. For example, it is an iconic aspect of our national identity, as expressed in images of Australian beaches and landscapes. At an individual and community level, people recognised that connections to land and places hold meaning for many, such as the spiritual connection felt by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to country. For many people the environment was seen to have value in its own right, not only because it enriches human life.

    How have we decided things haven't changed greatly?

    We have decided that there has been little change in the appreciation of the environment in Australia since 2004 because the number of domestic trips involving nature activities per capita (our headline progress indicator for appreciating the environment) hasn't moved much.

    If there was a considerable increase in the number of trips that Australians were taking that were involving nature activities such as visiting national parks, bush walking or going to the beach, our appreciation of the environment would be considered to have improved.

    In 2012, there were 3.4 domestic trips involving nature activities for every person aged 15 years or over. This was not significantly different from the 3.6 trips per person in 2004.

    Why this headline progress indicator?

    Having access to nature activities is an important part of the aspiration for appreciating the environment.

    The number of domestic trips involving nature activities, per capita, is considered a good measure of progress for appreciating the environment because it shows how often Australians are taking up opportunities to appreciate the environment directly through nature activities. However this indicator does have some limitations. For example, it is only looking at trips (both overnight and day trips), so nature activities enjoyed closer to home are excluded. As the aspiration for appreciating the environment is very broad, this indicator is also not able to capture certain elements such as our understanding of the environment's economic or intrinsic value.

    Quality assessment (see key)

    Image: Icon for 'Partial measure' This indicator is a partial measure of the concept of appreciating the environment as described above (based on Aspirations for our Nation).

    Image: Icon for 'High quality' The data source is of high quality.

    Let's break it down!

    One popular way in which Australians commonly appreciated our natural environment is through going to the beach. Of all nature activities that Australians participated in while on domestic trips, going to the beach was the most popular. In 2012, as in 2004, each Australian aged 15 years or over had on average around 2 day or overnight trips that involved going to the beach.

    Use the drop down menu on the graph to look at other breakdowns of the indicator (graphs are also available on the further info page).

    But that is not the whole story...

    There is more to appreciating the environment than trips involving nature activities. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of appreciating the environment have progressed.

    Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
A data gap currently exists for understanding the environment's intrinsic value

In MAP there are several types of data gaps where:
1. the concept is not yet developed enough to measure;
2. the concept is important for progress but may not lend itself to meaningful measurement;
3. there is no data of sufficient quality to inform on progress; or
4. there is only one data point, so a progress assessment cannot be made.

A range of possible indicators are being considered for understanding the environment's intrinsic value, such as looking at people's concern over environmental problems. In order to capture the spirit of this idea in a measure, further development will need to be undertaken. We will continue to explore options for a suitable indicator in the future.

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to appreciating the environment than understanding the environment's intrinsic value. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of appreciating the environment have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
A data gap currently exists for understanding the environment's economic value

In MAP there are several types of data gaps where:
1. the concept is not yet developed enough to measure;
2. the concept is important for progress but may not lend itself to meaningful measurement;
3. there is no data of sufficient quality to inform on progress; or
4. there is only one data point, so a progress assessment cannot be made.

A range of possible indicators are being considered for understanding the environment's economic value, such as looking at the implementation of our System of Environmental Economic Accounts (SEEA). In order to capture the spirit of this idea in a measure, further development will need to be undertaken. We will continue to explore options for a suitable indicator in the future.

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to appreciating the environment than understanding the environment's economic value. Click through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of appreciating the environment have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
Graph Image for Domestic trips involving nature activities - Element version

Footnote(s): (a) Includes both overnight and day trips. (b) See the glossary on the further info page for a definition of 'Nature activities'. (c) People aged 15 years or over. ;(a) Includes both overnight and day trips. (b) See the glossary on the further info page for a definition of 'Nature activities'. (c) People aged 15 years or over.

Source(s): Tourism Research Australia 2013 (unpublished data); ABS Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2012 (cat. no. 3235.0); Tourism Research Australia 2013 (unpublished data); ABS Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2012 (cat. no. 3235.0)

Access to and availability of nature areas in Australia has not changed greatly since 2004

Indicator: Number of domestic trips involving nature activities per capita

Why is this element important?

Part of appreciating the environment is having access to the opportunities it provides for enjoyment, reflection and inspiration. While the environment has a different meaning for different people, without the access to and availability of nature areas, people would be unable to fully appreciate the environment in their own way.

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about appreciating the environment.

How have we decided things haven't changed greatly?

We have decided that there has been little change in access to and availability of nature areas in Australia since 2004 because the number of domestic trips involving nature activities per capita (our progress indicator for access and availability of nature areas) hasn't moved much.

If there was a considerable increase in the number of trips that Australians were taking that were involving nature activities such as visiting national parks, bush walking or going to the beach, access to natural areas would be considered to have improved.

In 2012, there were 3.4 domestic trips involving nature activities for every person aged 15 years or over. This was not significantly different from the 3.6 trips per person in 2004.

Why this progress indicator?

Having access to nature areas and taking up opportunities that this provides is an important part of the aspiration for appreciating the environment.

The number of domestic trips involving nature activities, per capita, is considered a good measure of progress for access and availability of nature areas because people's uptake of nature activities must be related to the access and availability of nature areas in which these activities can take place. However this indicator does have some limitations. For example, it is only looking at trips (both overnight and day trips), so nature activities enjoyed closer to home are excluded. This indicator also doesn't account for some confounding factors which may also influence a person's decision not to partake in nature activities, despite access and availability of nature areas.

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Partial measure' This indicator is a partial measure of access to and availability of nature areas.

Image: Icon for 'High quality' The data source is of high quality.

Let's break it down!

Beaches are very popular nature areas within Australia. Of all nature activities that Australians participated in while on domestic trips, going to the beach was the most popular. In 2012, as in 2004, each Australian aged 15 years or over had on average around 2 day or overnight trips that involved going to the beach.

Use the drop down menu on the graph to look at other breakdowns of the indicator (graphs are also available on the further info page).

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to appreciating the environment than access to and availability of nature areas. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of appreciating the environment have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
A data gap currently exists for cultural connections

In MAP there are several types of data gaps where:
1. the concept is not yet developed enough to measure;
2. the concept is important for progress but may not lend itself to meaningful measurement;
3. there is no data of sufficient quality to inform on progress; or
4. there is only one data point, so a progress assessment cannot be made.

A range of possible indicators are being considered for cultural connections, such as the number or size of natural heritage sites or expenditure on natural heritage. In order to capture the spirit of this idea in a measure, further development will need to be undertaken. We will continue to explore options for a suitable indicator in the future.

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to appreciating the environment than cultural connections. Click through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of appreciating the environment have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
Graph Image for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who recognise an area as homelands or traditional country(a)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' connection to country in Australia has not changed greatly since 1994

Indicator: Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who recognise an area as homelands or traditional country

Why is this element important?

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a sense of connection to country, through recognition, visits, or residing on homelands or traditional country can provide many benefits. Homelands are the ancestral lands where many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 'live or visit; they are places of strong cultural significance where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can to fulfil their cultural obligations to their inherited country and its underlying traditional law. Homelands can provide social, spiritual, cultural, health and economic benefits to residents. They enable residents to live on, and maintain their connections with their ancestral lands'. (Northern Territory Government Department of Regional Development and Women's Policy, 2013)

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about appreciating the environment.

How have we decided things haven't changed greatly?

We have decided that there has been little change in connection to country since 1994 because the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who recognise an area as homelands or traditional country (our progress indicator for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' connection to country) hasn't moved much.

If over time there had been a significant increase in the proportion who recognise an area as homelands or traditional country, this would be considered as progress for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' connection to country.

In 2008, 72% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people recognised an area as their homelands or traditional country, a similar rate to that in the mid-nineties (75%). Recognition of an area as homeland or traditional country for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is not something that is related specifically to men or women, it is culturally significant, with men and women equally likely to recognise an area as their homeland or traditional country.

Why this progress indicator?

Connection to country for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, more specifically, their respect for the land is an important part of the aspiration for appreciating the environment.

The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who recognise an area as homelands or traditional country is considered a good measure of progress for this element because it is directly measuring the concept. However, while it does provide an indication of the proportion of people who have a connection to country, it doesn't measure the depth of these connections.

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Direct measure' This indicator is a direct measure of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' connection to country.

Image: Icon for 'High quality' The data source is of high quality.

Let's break it down!

Young adults were least likely to recognise their homeland in 2008 but this was also true in 1994. One of the significant changes between 1994 and 2008 was that in 2008, 61% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-24 recognised an area as their homeland, a significantly lower proportion than 1994 of 68%. During this time, none of the age groups above 25 years of age recorded significant decreases in the proportion of people who recognised an area as their homeland or traditional country.

In 2008, recognition of homelands was more common among Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who were living in Remote Areas of Australia (86%) than those in either Regional Areas or Major Cities (67% for either). That connection to country was stronger among those living in Remote Areas of Australia was also true in 2002 and 1994.

Recognition of homeland is not restricted to those people who live on their homeland. The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who recognised an area as homelands or traditional country did not currently live on that land in 1994 (61%). This measure remained the case in 2008 where of the majority of people who recognised an area as their homeland or traditional country, just under two thirds did not live in that area (65%).

Use the drop down menu on the graph to look at other breakdowns of the indicator (graphs are also available on the further info page).

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to appreciating the environment than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' connection to country. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of appreciating the environment have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
A data gap currently exists for quality information on our environment

In MAP there are several types of data gaps where:
1. the concept is not yet developed enough to measure;
2. the concept is important for progress but may not lend itself to meaningful measurement;
3. there is no data of sufficient quality to inform on progress; or
4. there is only one data point, so a progress assessment cannot be made.

The diversity and quality of the information about our environment that is available to Australians is a concept that is hard to measure through a single statistical measure. Despite this, it is clear that there have been considerable developments in this space within the last couple of decades. The 'State of the Environment' reports, last updated by the then Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities in 2011, bring together much of the most important environmental information for Australia. In addition, at the ABS, we are developing the Australian System Environmental-Economic Accounts, which will be a significant milestone in the on-going development of information to support the needs of government, industry and the general public in the area of environmental policy (ABS, 2013).

In order to capture the spirit of this idea in a measure, further development will need to be undertaken. We will continue to explore options for a suitable indicator in the future.

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to appreciating the environment than access to quality information. Click through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of appreciating the environment have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.

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