Statistics: Keeping Up With Change

1 December 2013 | Posted In: #119 Summer 2013/14, Community Sector, Planning and Built Environment Issues, Research, | Author: Geoff Turnbull

Every four years the census people come knocking on our doors and we fill in the census questions. In the back of our minds we know it must be useful for someone but probably don’t think about how we might use the information ourselves.

By Geoff Turnbull

Recently Leichhardt council briefed their human service interagency about how they could use census information when they are exploring the best locations for new services or needed to back up their funding applications with relevant statistical evidence.

Leichhardt had just subscribed for a one year trial to a suite of products produced by .id a company of demographers, spatial analysts, urban planners, forecasters, census data and IT experts who build demographic information products to make census data more easily accessible.

Leichhardt Council was keen to get its service providers to try the data and let them know if they thought council should continue to subscribe past the one year trial. This becomes even more importance since Leichhardt Council recently went out to residents telling them that they would either have to put up rates or cut services. In the meantime Leichhardt has joined all the other council in the ISRCSD region who make these useful tools available to their communities so we thought it would be useful to let everyone know about these resources.

Councils subscribe to .id’s main packages which are: Community Profile, Social Atlas and Economic Profile. The City of Sydney also uses the Population Forecast module which is very helpful for a rapidly growing inner city area.

Data is available at statistical collection area level, for the entire LGA and for areas requested by councils – maybe suburbs or wards or in the case of the City of Sydney their village hubs.

While the best way to discover the material available is to play with the modules, a brief overview provides:

  • The Community profile – uses Census data to build a powerful story about the characteristics of your community, how it is changing and how it compares to other areas. This information might be presented by map or table which can be exported for use in reports and funding applications.
  • Social Atlas – is a companion product to profile. id. It delivers Census data in a suite of powerful thematic maps which show how target populations are distributed across a local government area. Where are there concentrations of older people, low income people etc. Essential information if you are looking to locate a service or programme.
  • Economic Profile – combines 11 different datasets to build a cohesive story of a local economy, how it is changing and how it compares to other areas.
  • Population Forecasts – (Sydney LGA only) outlines what is driving population change in your community and forecasts how the population, age structure and household types will change between now and 2031.

Access to the last and previous census data in the atlas is available through a council’s website or it can be directly accessed from So the Social atlas for Leichardt can be accessed directly from If you substitute your council name in place of leichardt – say botany-bay you should get the direct link for your own council area atlas. At the top of the screen you will find the packages that the council subscribes to which can be accessed by clicking on the relevant tab changing the “atlas” part of the web address to “economy” or “profile” depending on the package you choose.

NSW Population Projections

For those looking to the future need for their services, have a look at the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s (DPI) population and housing projections. They have just released their Preliminary 2013 Population Projections which show projections until 2031.

DPI is a key source of population analysis and policy-orientated advice for the NSW Government. It is responsible for the development and regular review of NSW official population projections, incorporating information from its Metropolitan Development Program, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Federal Department of Immigration and Citizenship and NSW Health.

The population of NSW will increase by two million people to reach 9.2 million by 2031 so this is another important place to look when you are looking for material in planning or supporting your project applications.

You can download an interactive map with headline figures (see graphic at left) or download the detailed report from

Originally published in Inner Sydney Voice Issue 118 Summer 2013-14