As departments and agencies await fresh Australian Census data in mid-2022, junior staff are learning from data experts about how it will drive better policy outcomes.
Experts guided APS staff who recently attended a Graduate Data Network through how census data informs policy formulation across different agencies.
Tracey Chester, from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, said a census overall helps the government innovate in response to future planning challenges.
“[Census data is] informing many important decisions around transport, school, healthcare infrastructure and business at the community and national level,” Chester says.
The bureau believes the new online format of the census has meant better-quality data, with fewer errors and some questions targeted at specific demographics.
The government has used a Multi-Agency Data Integration Project since 2015 to bring together data from the ABS, ATO, and the Departments of Education and Training, Health, Human Services, and Social Services.
The Department of Health’s Joshua Ross said the census offered insights into the health workforce, informing where medical practitioners provide services and their demographics.
The department also combines health and census data into a dashboard to guide policy development as well as government responses.
Scott Clouder at Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, explained the census helped policy design by driven by community needs.
“Census data is so helpful in really colouring in those pictures when we are trying to understand demographic impacts on policy,” Clouder said.
People can access a recording or the presentation of the event by contacting the Graduate Data Network.