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Abra-Cadastre - Now You See Them - Now You Don't: Improving Statistical Data and Geography in the Northern Territory of Australia

  • Year: 2009
  • Author: Griffith, Dennis
  • Journal Name: Sustaining Regions
  • Journal Number: Vol. 7, No. 1
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: Northern Territory

The paper describes how some of the existing statistical classifications and definitions used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) hide or minimise the extent of disadvantage experienced in remote and sparsely populated areas of Australia. The ASGC Remoteness Classification, SEIFA Indices and definition of Unemployed persons are key examples. It is argued that these classifications and definitions need to be reviewed as soon as practicable to correct these problems as they cause the disadvantages of remote and Indigenous populations to be significantly understated when allocating Education and Health funding by the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments. The problems with the classifications have several causes, some of which are due to deliberate policy decisions whilst others are caused by insufficient Census information being available to ABS for some remote areas. Ways to improve Census collections in remote areas are discussed. The steps that were undertaken to improve statistical geography in the Northern Territory through a five-stage project, in consultation and collaboration with ABS, starting in 2003 are described. The first stage was the development and endorsement by Government of uniform spatially referenced statistical geography throughout the Northern Territory. The second stage was the alignment of that statistical geography with the ABS' Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC). The third stage was the redesign of NT Mesh Blocks in order to improve future statistical collections and analysis. The fourth stage was the development of social and economic indicators to populate the statistical geography and facilitate the development of small area statistical profiles. The fifth and final stage is the implementation of rural and remote addressing to facilitate the collection and analysis of detailed spatially referenced data. The completion of the project will result in much more accurate and meaningful data being available for Governments and researchers for evidenced-based policy making and statistical analysis across the Northern Territory.

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