Australian National Development Index (ANDI)

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About

In May 2010, Australia launched a new citizens’ initiative in measuring progress: the Australian National Development Index (ANDI).

ANDI’s partners are a coalition of non-government organisations in Australia representing a diverse range of citizen interests and expertise, supported by a team of universities. Partners range from trade unions and business groups, churches and local government to organisations in the environmental, social welfare, human rights and youth fields. ANDI also has some government partners, but funding and governance are provided predominantly from the Australian community. ANDI is a strong national voice in support of the ‘paradigm shift’ now being urged around the world – to redefine progress, from increased economic production to equitable and sustainable well-being.

For nearly 15 years now, a wide range of progress measurement initiatives have been developed across Australia, from neighbourhood and local government to state and national levels. Three of the best-known examples are: the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) pioneering ‘Measures of Australia’s Progress’ (MAP); the state of Tasmania’s 20 year community planning project, Tasmania Together; and Community Indicators Victoria, a community progress and planning framework for 79 local governments.

In 2008, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd convened a national ‘Ideas Summit’ with over 1000 participants, and one of the ideas that emerged with the highest priority was for ‘a national index … to measure Australia’s economic, social and environmental progress’ based on ‘engaging with the community in discussions about what is important Australia’s progress and development’. ANDI is taking this idea a few steps further. Following the lead of the OECD and the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission, it aims to promote a debate about what progress means to Australians in the 21st century.

In structure and planning, it follows the model of the world-leading Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW).

ANDI also works closely with the ABS and supports MAP, by drawing on its key data and new measurement framework and feeding back community priorities. In particular, the community discussion promoted by the ANDI project will feed into ABS plans for the future directions of MAP; ANDI’s exploration of the use of indexes in this context will complement the dashboard approach used by the ABS in MAP as mentioned earlier in this article.

 

Goals

The initial goals are ambitious: to consult half a million Australians; and to develop a quarterly index of national well-being. This index will be built around 12 key dimensions of progress, such as health, education, indigenous well-being, children’s well-being, justice and human rights, etc. Each ‘progress dimension’ would itself have an index, and indexes will be released annually during different months. It is hoped that this will enable a continuous discussion in the media and the public about the quality of Australian life and what Australians believe are the priorities for national progress.

ANDI will also aim to build a national network and resource base for the growing national movement to develop community well-being measures at local, state and national levels, and to become a participant in the OECD-hosted Global Project. An early priority is to develop a high quality and community friendly website, and a national education and communications program.

 

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