Director - Labour Supply and Conditions Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics
I finished my honours degree in Mathematical Statistics in 1989 and started working at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In my first year, I used the skills from my degree directly as I worked in the Statistics Services Branch, with tasks including designing samples and calculating standard errors. I soon moved to other areas, developing broader skills, particularly in writing and management, but also finding that my knowledge of statistical principles and ability to draw information out of data have been very valuable in my work.
By 1996, I was leading the Census Evaluation team, which focused on assessing the quality of data obtained in the census, and the completeness of the census count (in Australia, usually around 98% of the population are counted in the census). This led to an opportunity to visit South Africa as part of an extensive Australian aid project to assist in the reconstruction of the country after the end of apartheid. I had four short trips to assist with the 1996 census, and then worked as a member of Statistics South Africa for a year, in 1998, to assist with finalising the census results. Nelson Mandela launched the census data in October 1998 with an inspiring speech about the value of this information for helping South Africa move forward. I studied statistics because I was good at it, and found it interesting, but was delighted to find that it had led to a chance to participate in a project so useful and rewarding.
Since returning from South Africa in 1999, my jobs have involved labour statistics. One of the things I enjoy about working at the ABS is the ability to work in a variety of areas. I am currently the director of a section that works towards ensuring that statistics produced by the ABS provide a good picture of the Australian labour market. We talk to people who use labour statistics, as well as analyse and write about the results of the surveys conducted by the ABS. With many changes happening in the nature of work in Australia this has proved to be another very interesting role.