IASSIST Regional Report 2003-04 Australia
Australian National University
After a recent hiatus in data preservation and sharing issues, 2003-04 saw a growing interest in the region.
In Australia, the Australian Social Science Data Archive looks to expand, with a Qualitative Data Archive set to open in 2005 at the University of Queensland, and an Administrative Data Archive planned to open that same year at the University of New South Wales. These archives will all come under the banner of the ASSDA and will better serve both the qualitative and economic researchers who have not been well served through the current data archive.
ASSDA has also adopted NESSTAR, and while currently it serves our most popular, unrestricted files, we are hoping to have a partially automated data distribution system by 2005.
Great breakthroughs have also been made this year regarding access to government data through the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Since 1999, ABS have allowed access to their Unit Record files through a system quite similar to the Canadian model. A recent development that might interest the IASSIST group is that overseas access is now possible, through their remote access data laboratory. All an international researcher need do is have an affiliation with an Australian university to access over 50 unit record files, including the latest Census.
In 2003 I was invited, with my head of Centre Dr Deborah Mitchell, to speak at a number of workshops in New Zealand about the necessity of setting up a data archive and access to government data in New Zealand. I also spoke about the importance of joining IASSIST, and gaining the benefit of the years of experience and collegiate support that this organisation offers. Since then, we’ve had visitors from New Zealand to discuss the different ways that could be achieved, and the developments look very positive. Since the New Zealand Data Archive closed its doors in 1996, the Australian data archive has played a care taker role for much of the New Zealand data, and we are looking forward to being able to hand it back when New Zealand re-establishes this capacity.
Hopefully 2004-05 will see great developments being made in both data access and data distribution in the Australian region and I look forward to reporting back at Edinburgh 2005.