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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

A fair go

Australians aspire to a fair society that enables everyone to meet their needs

Image: Question mark - Data gap

A data gap currently exists for
a fair go

    Why is this theme important?

    Australians told us that all people should have an equal opportunity to establish, improve and maintain their wellbeing, and have access to the services and opportunities that support these efforts. This echoes the familiar Australian tradition of egalitarianism. It includes the ability of people to meet their basic needs, build their capabilities, gain income through employment and access information. It also relates to the quality and availability of infrastructure such as transport, which underpins these activities. The idea of an equal opportunity, or a fair go, was seen as particularly important for those who are at vulnerable points in their lives or who are marginalised or disadvantaged.

    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 assessing a fair go, but the concept is broad and difficult to summarise in any one measure. 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...

    Look through the other tabs on this page to see where we have been able to track progress for the aspiration of a fair go.

    Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
Graph Image for Households that have low economic resources and have experienced one or more financial stressors

Source(s): ABS data available on request, Household Expenditure Survey

The ability of people to meet basic needs in Australia has progressed in recent years


Indicator: Proportion of households that have low economic resources and have experienced one or more financial stressors

Why is this element important?

A contributor to people's standard of living and wellbeing is the amount of discretion they have in their spending on goods and services to meet their needs.

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about a fair go.

How have we decided there has been progress?

We have decided that meeting basic needs in Australia has progressed in recent years because the proportion of households that have low economic resources and have experienced one or more financial stressors (our progress indicator for meeting basic needs) has decreased.

In 2009-10, the proportion of households that had low economic resources and experienced one or more financial stressors was 12%, lower than the proportion six years earlier in 2003-04 (13%).

Low economic resource households are those that are simultaneously in the lowest four deciles of both equivalised household income (including imputed rent) and equivalised household net worth. Financial stressors experienced may include; not being able to pay electricity, gas or telephone bills on time, going without meals, the inability to access $2000 in a week to pay for something important and not being able to pay car registration or insurance on time, to name just a few.

Imputed rent is included in this income measure as mentioned above. Imputed rent allows for more meaningful comparison of income circumstances of people living in different tenure types, as well as changes over time in income levels and the distribution of income.

The indicator also uses equivalised household income and net worth. This means that the income that households receive, and their net worth (the value of a household's assets less the value of it's liabilities) have been adjusted to account for differences in household size and composition.

Why this progress indicator?

The ability of people to meet their basic needs is an important part of the aspiration for a fair go.

The proportion of households that have low economic resources and have experienced one or more financial stressors, is considered a good measure of progress for meeting basic needs. This is because a key element of people's living standards and wellbeing is the amount of discretion they have in their spending on goods and services to meet their needs.

While our measures of income and wealth provide information on the main economic resources available to households (and these measures can describe people's associated consumption patterns), they do not necessarily tell the full story of how households are coping financially. For example, households may go without key goods and services, or seek financial assistance from others, to meet financial commitments or to maintain other expenditure. The extent to which this occurs can provide an indication of the overall financial stress experienced by households.

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Partial measure' This indicator is a partial measure of meeting basic needs.

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

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to a fair go than meeting basic needs. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of a fair go 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 services

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.

We propose to use the proportion of people who find cost is a barrier to seeing a General Practitioner as a progress indicator for the services element in the future, when sufficient data becomes available for us to assess whether progress has been made.

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to a fair go than services. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of a fair go have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
Graph Image for Participation rates in education(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Persons aged 18-24 years. (b) Formal Education includes School Level Education, Higher Education, Vocational Education, and study for non-school qualification where the level was unable to be determined.;(a) Persons aged 18-24 years. (b) Higher education includes Postgraduate degrees, Masters degrees, Graduate diplomas, Graduate certificates and Bachelor degrees. (c) Vocational education includes Advanced diplomas, Diplomas and Certificates I to IV. (d) Formal education includes School level education, Higher education, Vocational education, and study for non-school qualification where the level was unable to be determined.;(a) Persons aged 18-24 years. (b) SES is derived using the ABS 2006 SEIFA IRSD (at CD level) disaggregated into quintiles (where 1 is the most disadvantaged and 5 is the least disadvantaged). Low SES represents Quintile 1. (c) Higher Education includes Postgraduate degrees, Master degrees, Graduate diplomas, Graduate certificates and Bachelor degrees. (d) Vocational Education includes Advanced diplomas, Diplomas and Certificates I to IV. (e) Formal Education includes School Level Education, Higher Education, Vocational Education, and study for non-school qualification where the level was unable to be determined.;(a) Children aged 4-5 years. (b) Qld rate uses counts of episodes as counts of children is not available. (c) Preschool participation rate is the number of preschool students of a particular age expressed as a proportion of the population of the same age. (d) Some rates may exceed 100%. The age grouping of 4-5 years approximates a single year of preschool enrolment contributing to rates over 100%. Children may also attend preschool programs across years contributing to participation rates over 100%. For further information, see Explanatory notes in ABS Preschool Education, Australia (cat. no. 4240.0).;(a) Students aged 6-17 years. (b) ACT rate exceeds 100% largely as a result of NSW residents from surrounding areas enrolling in ACT schools. (c) Comparisons between jurisdictions may be influenced by differences in school commencement ages. (d) The school participation rate is the number of school students of a particular age expressed as a proportion of the population of the same age. (e) Some rates may exceed 100%. For further information, see Explanatory notes in ABS Schools, Australia (cat. no. 4221.0).

Source(s): ABS data available on request, 2008-2012 Surveys of Education and Work; ABS data available on request, 2012 Survey of Education and Work; ABS data available on request, 2012 Survey of Education and Work; ABS Preschool Education, Australia, 2012 (cat. no. 4240.0) ; ABS Schools, Australia, 2012 (cat. no. 4221.0)

There has been progress in Australia in accessing education and training, and related information in recent years


Indicator: Education participation rates for people aged 18-24 years

Why is this element important?

Australians having access to participate in quality education training, and access to information about education and training, is an important part of the aspiration for a fair go.

Education and training helps people to develop knowledge and skills that may be used to enhance their own wellbeing and that of the broader community. For an individual, education is widely regarded as a key factor in developing a rewarding career and enhancing their own social development and ultimate life satisfaction. For the nation, having a skilled workforce is vital in supporting ongoing economic development and in improving living conditions.

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about a fair go.

How have we decided there has been progress?

We have decided that accessing education, training and related information in Australia has progressed in recent years because education participation rates for people aged 18-24 years (our progress indicator for education, training and information) has increased.

Formal education participation rates in Australia for people aged 18-24 years have steadily increased over the last five years. In 2008, the overall participation rate was 45%, this increased to 47% in 2012.

People aged 18-24 years, from low socioeconomic areas were less likely than the total population of 18-24 year olds to participate in formal education. However, the proportion of 18-24 year olds from low socioeconomic areas participating in formal education increased from 36% in 2008 to 38% in 2012.

Why this progress indicator?

Participating in and having the opportunity to access education is an important part of the aspiration for a fair go.

Education participation rates are considered a good measure of progress for education, training and information because they can tell us about the number of Australians that are accessing and participating in different types of education. However, the 18-24 age cohort only provides a snapshot of participation. It is also important to consider the participation of younger Australians.

Pre-school participation rates for enrolled children aged 4-5 years and school participation rates for students aged 6-17 years can also indicate progress for education, training and information by providing a broader picture of education participation. However, because we only have data about these age groups for 2012, we are unable to make a progress assessment as yet. We have included some information about these two indicators in the 'Let's break it down!' section below.

Within the context of the aspiration of a fair go, access to information about education and training was also seen as an important part of being able to have access to educational services. In choosing our progress indicator, we have focussed on the measures that show access to education.

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Partial measure' This indicator is a partial measure of education, training and information.

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

Let's break it down!

In 2012, the overall preschool participation rate for enrolled children aged 4-5 was 90% (or 266,036 children). The Australian Capital Territory had the highest education participation rates for enrolled preschoolers at 109%, while New South Wales had the lowest rates at 74%.

In 2012, the overall school participation rate for students aged 6-17 was 97% (or 3.3 million students). Again the Australian Capital Territory has the highest participation rate with 108%, while the Northern Territory had the lowest school participation rate at 90%.

(Note: The reason why participation rates for the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Tasmania are above 100% is given in the explanatory notes on the further info page).

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 a fair go than education, training and related information. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of a fair go have progressed.

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

Graph Image for Employment as a proportion of people who are in work or want to work(a)(b)

Footnote(s): (a) Persons ages 15 years and over. (b) Data is for September.;(a) Persons aged 15 years and over. (b) Data is for September.;(a) Persons aged 15 years and over. (b) Data is for September.

Source(s): ABS data available on request, Persons Not in the Labour Force; ABS data available on request, Persons Not in the Labour Force; ABS data available on request, Persons Not in the Labour Force

Access to employment in Australia has not changed greatly in recent years

Indicator: Employment as a proportion of people who are in work or want to work

Why is this element important?

Access to employment is an important part of wellbeing both for individuals and societies. Work benefits individuals by offering them financial security through a source of income. Work also benefits people by enhancing their skills, building social networks and contributing to a person's sense of identity and purpose. Within society, work is critical in ensuring that the goods, services and wider social conditions that benefit all members of the community are generated. Therefore, it is important that society provides people with the ability to access employment opportunities, which in turn supports their wellbeing.

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about a fair go.

How have we decided things haven't changed greatly?

We have decided that there has been little change in access to employment in Australia in recent years because employment as a proportion of people who are in work or want to work (our progress indicator for employment) hasn't moved much.

For there to be improvement to access to employment in Australia, we would expect to see discernible growth in employment as a proportion of people who are in work or want to work. When viewed in the context of the number of people wanting to work, the proportion of the Australian population in employment has not changed greatly.

In 2007, 87% of the population that were in work or wanted to work were employed. Five years later in 2012, the rate was similar at 86% with only minor downward movement in the rate recorded during intervening years in the wake of the global financial crisis. As a population, there were 1.9 million Australians in 2012 who wanted to work but were not employed.

Why this progress indicator?

Being able to find work tells us about employment as part of the aspiration for a fair go.

Employment as a proportion of people who are in work or want to work is considered a good measure of progress for access to employment because it measures whether those who want to work are able to do so. Examining employment in relation to people who are in work or want to work can be useful to understand how well people's aspirations to work are being met in the economy. In addition to including people who are employed and unemployed, the measure includes people who are not in the labour force who report that they want to work, i.e. that they have a desire or aspiration for work. It excludes those not in the labour force who are retired, permanently not able to work and those who do not want to work.

A high proportion of people who are in work or want to work indicates that businesses, governments and other sectors of the economy are adequately providing opportunities for employment to those who want it. A high proportion also indicates that the productive potential of Australians is being harnessed to support economic production and that unused labour capacity is small.

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Direct measure' This indicator is a direct measure of access to employment.

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

Let's break it down!

Between 2007 and 2012, employment as a proportion of people who are in work or want to work was consistently lower for women than for men (between 5-8 percentage points). In 2012, this equated to there being 846,000 men and 1,096,000 women who wanted to work but were not employed.

Across the states and territories, Tasmania and Queensland saw a significant decrease in the proportion of people who are in work or want to work between 2007 and 2012 (84% to 81% and 88% to 86%, respectively). There were no other significant changes for the other states and territories during this period. Between 2007 and 2012, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory had the highest proportion of people who were in work or wanted to work, while Tasmania had the lowest.

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 a fair go than access to employment. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of a fair go have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
Graph Image for Disposable household income for low and middle income households(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Estimates presented from 2007-08 onwards are not directly comparable with estimates for previous cycles due to the improvements made to measuring income introduced in 2007-08 cycle. Estimates for 2003-04 and 2005-06 have been recompiled to reflect the new treatments of income, however not all components introduced are available to present the years on a comparable basis.

Source(s): ABS data available on request, Surveys of Income and Housing

Household income in Australia has progressed since 1995

Indicator: Average real equivalised disposable household income for low and middle income households

Why is this element important?

The economic wellbeing of individuals is largely determined by their command over economic resources. Income and wealth are the economic resources that households use to support their consumption of goods and services.

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about a fair go.

How have we decided there has been progress?

We have decided that household income in Australia has progressed since 1995 because the average real equivalised disposable household income for low and middle income households (our progress indicator for income) has increased.

Between 1994-95 and 2011-12, the average real equivalised disposable household income for low and middle income households increased from $308 to $475 per week. However, part of this increase reflects improvements to the way income is measured. (Endnote 1)

Real equivalised disposable household income means that the income households receive has been adjusted to account for differences in household size and composition. For example, a household comprising of two people would normally need to receive more income than a lone person household to enjoy the same standard of living. While equivalised disposable household income allows for better comparisons between households, it also assumes that all individuals have the same resource needs if they are to enjoy the same standard of living.

Why this progress indicator?

The amount of disposable household income that low and middle income households have to spend is an important part of the aspiration for a fair go.

The average real equivalised disposable household income for low and middle income households is considered a good measure of progress for income because it is a determinant of material living standards. Disposable household income may be spent on the consumption of goods and services or be set aside as savings for future consumption or investment. For most people the level of income that they and other family members receive is a major part of household economic resources. People living in households with low income will be less likely to have sufficient economic resources to support an acceptable material standard of household living.

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Direct measure' This indicator is a direct measure of household income.

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

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to a fair go than household income. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of a fair go have progressed.

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

ENDNOTES

1. Estimates presented from 2007–08 onwards are not directly comparable with estimates for previous cycles due to the improvements made to measuring income introduced in the 2007–08 cycle. Estimates for 2003–04 and 2005–06 have been recompiled to reflect the new treatments of income, however not all components are available to present years on a comparable basis.

A data gap currently exists for infrastructure


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.

We propose to use the perceived level of difficulty accessing transport as a progress indicator for the infrastructure element in the future, when sufficient data becomes available for us to assess whether progress has been made.

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to a fair go than infrastructure. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of a fair go 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 assistance for vulnerable people

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.

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 a fair go than assistance for vulnerable people. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of a fair go have progressed.

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



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