Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

What Is the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is the country of Australia's independent national statistical office. The mission statement of the Australian Bureau of Statistics is to assist and facilitate informed decision-making, research, and discussion within governments and the community by providing high-quality and responsive national statistical service.

Key Takeaways

  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is that countries office of national statistics.
  • The ABS is responsible for conducting the national census and maintaining demographic and other data.
  • The ABS also compiles and publishes various economic indicators for Australia.

Understanding the Australian Bureau of Statistics

The Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (CBCS), the predecessor to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), was established in 1905. It was replaced in 1974 by the ABS. The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act of 1975 established the ABS as a statutory authority headed by the Australian Statistician and responsible to the Treasurer.

The Bureau reports on typical national statistical office key statistics, covering areas such as economic, population, environmental, and social issues. Like similar country statistical offices, ABS offers the data free of charge on their website.

Australian Bureau of Statistics Responsibilities

Beyond serving up a variety of national datasets, the Australian Bureau of Statistics is also responsible for conducting Australia's census covering population and housing. Currently, Australia performs its national census every five years. Their most recent was conducted in August 2021 and represented Australia's eighteenth such census tally. It consists of data covering more than 10 million households encompassing over 25 million individuals.

Australia's 2016 census offers an example of one of many pitfalls in modern data collection. In an effort to conduct the census electronically, Australian officials initially implemented the census online, rather than with traditional paper-based forms. After a series of cyberattacks rendered the online method unusable for a period, the ABS took the form offline.

5 years

Unlike the U.S. census, which is carried out every 10 years, the ABS conducts its census of the Australian population every 5 years. The most recent survey is the 2021 census, for which data will be released from 2022-2023.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics also publishes a host of monthly and quarterly economic publications throughout the year based on data it collects. Topics generally center on the economy, industry, people, labor, health, environment, and other characteristics unique to Australia.

Primary economic indicators follow the usual standard, including key economic indicators such as interest rates, property prices, employment, and the Australian dollar's value. Other research and analysis cover the country's Consumer Price Index (CPI), Australian National Accounts, and detailed factors impacting labor supply and demand.

Since 2020, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has been called upon to compile and produce statistics related to the COVID19 pandemic as it affects Australia. These efforts combine data on public health, jobs and the economy, and mobility to help inform policy and inform the public. In June 2021, the ABS scaled back its COVID19 data offerings.

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  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. "How Good Statistics Can Enhance the Decision Making Process." Accessed Oct. 4, 2021.

  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. "Find Census Data." Accessed Oct. 4, 2021.

  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. "About the 2021 Census." Accessed Oct. 4, 2021.

  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics. "ABS responds to COVID-19." Accessed Oct. 4, 2021.