Australian Bureau of Statistics

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Australian Bureau of Statistics

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (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.

The role of the ABS

The ABS provides statistics on a wide range of economic, social, population and environmental matters, covering 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 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

  • Established 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
  • Established 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 Governments of the States and Territories
  • 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.

National Statistical Service

The National Statistical Service (NSS) is the community of government agencies, led by the ABS as Australia’s national statistical organisation, building a rich statistical picture for a better informed Australia. It aims to develop and improve a statistical system that ensures providers and users of statistics have the confidence to trust the statistics produced within it.

Vision Statement

Our vision is:

  • all government agencies working together to deliver the statistics required by Australia, no matter what their source


  • increasing the availability, accessibility and useability of information derived from key administrative and survey data sets
  • applying sound statistical and data management principles and practices
  • forging statistical partnerships to share knowledge and expertise
  • building a relevant and sustainable statistical service founded on the trust of, and cooperation with, the data providers

so that:

  • policy, research and decision making is underpinned by relevant statistical information
  • government statistical information is efficiently collected, managed, shared and disseminated
  • statistical burden on businesses and households is minimised
  • cooperation and support of respondents and the public in general is maintained


Measures of Australia’s Progress

Measures of Australia’s Progress (MAP), an initiative of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, looks at progress for 17 headline dimensions. These are grouped into 3 categories: society; the economy; and the environment. The ABS has recently released its latest edition of Measures of Australia’s Progress (2010), as a new web-based publication. This follows the release of previous reports in 2002, 2004 and 2006. In other years the ABS provides a small publication with updates of the headline indicators within the headline dimensions (see Measures of Australia’s Progress: Summary Indicators, 2009). In 2011 the MAP team are consulting widely to determine whether MAP is measuring the aspects of national progress that matter most to Australians. This process is being called Map 2.0. This consultation will result in a refreshed conceptual framework for measuring Australia’s progress.

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