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Presentation 5C1. The Official Statistician - Teaching Values and Techniques to Statisticians and the Community

Richard Madden (Australia)
Ching Y. Choi (Australia)


Presentation Abstract
Official Statisticians describe the economic and social characteristics of the societies. They do this for specialised decision makers, including governments, and for ordinary members of the community. They follow known statistical and ethical standards in their work. The strong information base they provide is basic to the operation of a democratic society.

Their education role mirrors their responsibilities, and is an indivisible part of their work. Three aspects are described, with examples in the Australian context.

First, values. A statistician most operate within a set of ethics. Official statisticians must carefully describe their values and communicate them. They must train statisticians at all levels in their rationale and use. Values include objectivity, quality, respect for data providers and general accessibility to their output.

Second, users, specifically statisticians, must be able to interpret, understand and critically comment on official statistics. So methodologies must be fully described, in terms understandable to the relevant user group.

Expenditure on health and welfare services and descriptions of overall health status and wellbeing are examples.

Third, statisticians need to match their endeavours to the restraints of the society in which they work. Sometimes ideal quality cannot be achieved, but policy makers and the community need the best information they can get to address urgent social issues. How to decide on their methodology, and to explain it, is a real challenge.
Illustrations include the health and wellbeing of indigenous people, and drug use in society.


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