Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Definition

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 the office of national statistics for the government of Australia.
  • 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 and 25 million individuals.

Australia's 2016 census offered 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 five years.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics also publishes a host of monthly and quarterly economic publications throughout the year based on the 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 COVID-19 pandemic as it affects Australia. These efforts combine data on public health, jobs, the economy, and mobility to help inform policymakers and the public. In June 2021, the ABS scaled back its COVID-19 data offerings.

Do I Have to Do the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey?

It is mandatory for residents to complete the surveys sent out by the ABS. The Census and Statistics Act of 1905 gives the bureau the authority to fine you if you don't fill out the surveys.

What Information Is Collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics?

The ABS collects personal information from residents and the information needed to create statistics used to tell Australia's economic story.

What Is the Australian Bureau of Statistics Used for?

The ABS uses information from its surveys to publish data and statistics about Australia. This information is used by many people, businesses, and government agencies to make decisions and track the country's economy.

The Bottom Line

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is the government body that collects, analyzes, and distributes data for Australia. It conducts monthly surveys and publishes important economic, social, population, and environmental information used by residents and decision-makers in all industries.

Article Sources
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  1. Australian Government, The Treasury. "Australian Bureau of Statistics."

  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. "Legislative framework."

  3. United Nations Statistics Division. "Country Profile of Australia."

  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics. "Find Census Data."

  5. Australian Bureaus of Statistics. "Snapshot of Australia."

  6. Australian Bureau of Statistics. "Census 2016: Lessons Learned – Improving Cyber Security Culture and Practice."

  7. Australian Bureau of Statistics. "2016 Census Overview."

  8. Australian Bureau of Statistics. "The Australian Census."

  9. Australian Bureau of Statistics. "ABS Responds to COVID-19."

  10. Australian Bureau of Statistics. "Monthly Population Survey | FAQs."

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