To the Editor, The Australian
In response to 'Out-of date data masking reality of indigenous employment' (24/02/12), I bring your attention to the large range of data about the labour force experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people collected in the ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) and the ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey. Together, these collections provide rich data every three to four years.
For example, the NATSISS 2008 collected employment details, duration of unemployment, difficulties funding work, use of employment services, and reasons for not looking for a job and other labour force related information. This information can be combined with health, education and home ownership, providing a rich data source.
In addition, the ABS produces annual estimates of the labour force characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including labour force participation, at the national level.
ABS continually reviews its work program to ensure relevance and responsiveness to key policy issues, including the consideration of more frequent data collection. Increased frequency needs to be balanced with the costs and the burden placed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities by additional data collection activities.
Acting Australian Statistician
Australian Bureau of Statistics