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New Data Tool Takes Australia’s Social Pulse

13 December 2016 at 11:41 am
Ellie Cooper
A new web-enabled tool is providing a map of Australia’s social progress, breaking down data across key outcomes and demographics.

Ellie Cooper | 13 December 2016 at 11:41 am


New Data Tool Takes Australia’s Social Pulse
13 December 2016 at 11:41 am

A new web-enabled tool is providing a map of Australia’s social progress, breaking down data across key outcomes and demographics.

Australia’s Social Pulse, created by the Centre for Social Impact (CSI), is intended to make existing – but often inaccessible – data on social statistics easier for not-for-profit and for-purpose organisations to use in their work.

CSI researchers collated and synthesized data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, including the census and labour force survey, the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey and other sources.

The first year’s findings have been presented both in a report and a newly launched website, which examines “domains”, including education, employment, health, housing and life satisfaction.

It then breaks down each domain into groups including gender, age, people with disability, socio-economic indexes for areas of disadvantage, people with psychological distress and Indigenous Australians.

Senior research officer at CSI Lena Etuk said the web-enabled tool could assist organisations in better targeting their services.

“The real benefit of the Social Pulse, from a non-profit sector or for-purpose sector organisation perspective, is that it helps us understand which groups of people in Australia are more likely or less likely to be struggling with certain issues, or maybe falling behind in some outcomes,” Etuk told Pro Bono Australia News.

“It really can help us target particular groups of people. So we look at, for instance, the outcomes like education and employment by age, by sex, by Indigenous status, by geography etc. so it can really help us understand what population groups are vulnerable.”  

CSI content and community manager Nicola Hannigan told Pro Bono Australia News that the social purpose sector lacked a cohesive and reliable source to track progress, and then improve social outcomes.    

“We’re certainly trying to find ways of creating a more accessible experience, especially for people from within the sector,” Hannigan said.

“It is something we hear a lot, that they do struggle to understand some of the data that comes out from different organisations. So we’ve just tried to approach it in a slightly different way.”  

According to the Social Pulse report, while economic indicators like GDP, unemployment and interest rates are well-established, social outcomes are essential in measuring the nation’s wellbeing.

“The key purpose of measuring social progress is so that everyone, we as a society overall, can be paying attention to the key factors of our society that we should be paying attention to,” Etuk said.

“[We need] to make sure that certain groups of people don’t fall between the cracks, and so that we are paying attention to how our society as a whole is doing, and not just focusing solely on one particular indicator, but really looking at the broad spectrum of all the outcomes for society overall.”  

Dependant on funding, CSI is aiming to annually update the report and website. CSI has also encouraged community organisations to provide feedback on their experience with the tool.

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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