A people’s MAP

OECD Observer

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) began work on the MAP project in early 2000, with the first issue of the publication released in April 2002. Most of 2000 and 2001 was spent developing and discussing thinking around progress and its measurement – rather than preparing the actual document per se. The publication itself took about six months to write, peer review and publish. The consultation around its development took nearly two years. (…)

The ABS is fortunate in having comprehensive links with civil society. The Bureau has a systematic programme for consulting users of statistics. Through this programme, hundreds of government agencies, academic researchers, businesses and business councils, community organisations and individual Australians have told the ABS what they think it is important that it measures. (…) The final choice of indicators was made by the ABS after taking account of the full spectrum of views.

The ABS invited a small group of external advisors to sit on an “expert reference group” to inform MAP’s development and provide a sounding board for ABS ideas. This group comprised several academics, a scientist and the heads of two prominent civil society organisations: the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) and the Australia Institute.

Collectively, their diverse backgrounds helped ensure that the ABS view of progress was palatable to a broad crosssection of Australia. And, almost as important as the advice they provided, their involvement in the process of developing MAP helped to ensure that they supported the final publication.

There was, however, at least one weakness to the ABS approach that on reflection might have been avoided. It involves the importance of perception: perception around the role of, and perceived bias in the expert group, even though the ABS head made the final choices on dimensions and indicators. Some dimensions of progress attract more debate than others. There is, for example, a good deal of discussion about what changes in the distribution of income mean vis-à-vis progress. Some people equate a move to a more equal distribution of income with progress. Others feel that progress is achieved if people are earning more on average, even if the distribution of income widens. It is important that those designing an indicator initiative are aware of these areas of potential controversy and make a special effort to consult with people of all persuasions.

This extract is from a paper by Jon Hall, Chris Carswell and René Jones from the ABS, and David Yencken from the University of Melbourne. The full 9,000-word presentation and references, “Collaborating with civil society: reflections from Australia”, provides a range of insights on civil society consultations, focusing on three initiatives: MAP, Tasmania Together, and Growing Victoria Together. Available at www.oecd.org/oecdworldforum. The views in this paper are those of the authors.

©OECD Observer No 246/247, December 2004-January 2005

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q3 2017 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% Dec 2017 annual
Trade: +4.3% exp, +4.3% imp, Q3 2017
Unemployment: 5.5% Dec 2017
Last update: 12 Feb 2018


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Ambassador Aleksander Surdej, Permanent Representative of Poland to the OECD, was a guest on France 24’s English-language show “The Debate”, where he discussed French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • Rousseau
  • Do you trust your government? The OECD’s How's life 2017 report finds that only 38% of people in OECD countries trust their government. How can we improve our old "Social contract?" Read more.
  • Papers show “past coming back to haunt us”: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria tells Sky News that the so-called "Paradise Papers" show a past coming back to haunt us, but one which is now being dismantled. Please watch the video.
  • When someone asks me to describe an ideal girl, in my head, she is a person who is physically and mentally independent, brave to speak her mind, treated with respect just like she treats others, and inspiring to herself and others. But I know that the reality is still so much different. By Alda, 18, on International Day of the Girl. Read more.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Read some of the insightful remarks made at OECD Forum 2017, held on 6-7 June. OECD Forum kick-started events with a focus on inclusive growth, digitalisation, and trust, under the overall theme of Bridging Divides.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2018