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Updated: 03 May 2012

Understanding Your Community Through Data Analysis

Understanding Your Community Through Data Analysis

Gathering statistical information assists in profiling your community, which in turn provides valuable data for future planning and an evidence base to support funding applications.

A guide to local government relevant data sources, which can assist you to convince your decision makers of the need for active living initiatives and strategies, is available below.


Physical Activity Taskforce Research Surveys

A summary of State, National and International surveys can be found on the following link - Physical Activity Research and Evidence. While these surveys collect data at a state or national level, the issues identified apply at all levels of the community.

For example the Physical Activity Taskforce conducted two large population based surveys, the Child and Adolescent Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (CAPANS) and the Physical Activity Levels of Western Australian Adults (Adult Survey). The surveys provide information for planning and developing initiatives aimed at improving levels of physical activity and health in Western Australia. Information about attitudes, knowledge and behaviour trends can be seen across the four Adults Surveys completed thus far. 

CAPANS, 2003 & 2008

CAPANS, 2003 & 2008

The Physical Activity Taskforce conducted the Child and Adolescent Physical Activity and Nutrition (CAPANS) survey to provide a measure of physical activity levels and nutrition behaviours of West Australian children and adolescents. The survey has been conducted in 2003 and 2008.

Resource type:Publications
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Relevance: State
Year published: Published year not set

Adult Survey 1999, 2002, 2006 & 2009

Adult Survey 1999, 2002, 2006 & 2009

The Physical Activity Adult Survey was undertaken by the Physical Activity Taskforce to provide a measure of physical activity levels among West Australian adults. Surveys have been conducted in 1999, 2002, 2006 and 2009.

Resource type:Publications
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Relevance: State
Year published: Published year not set

Key Data Sources  

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Various agencies collect data which is relevant to local governments. A main source of data is the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website, which has a variety of information compiled at the Statistical Local Area. For example the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census data collects information on:

  • Population
  • Socio-economic Index For Areas (SEIFA)
  • % Aboriginal
  • % Disability

The ABS also includes a list of secondary distributors of information who previously held a Secondary Distribution Licence. This list contains companies who may have product and services relevant to your local governments data collection needs.

Department of Health WA

In Western Australia the Department of Health is a focal data collection source as they hold the following:

  • Administrative datasets including Hospital Morbidity Data System and ABS death data collection. 
  • Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System (continuous data collection system designed to monitor key health indicators over time) which measures the following: 
    • % doing insufficient physical activity
    • Insufficient fruit and vegetable consumption
    • Prevalence of overweight and obesity
    • Prevalence of smoking
    • Consumption of alcohol
    • Self-reported rates of chronic disease (including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and osteoporosis)

Other data available from the departments Epidemiology Branch is a Population overview including Density, Age structure, Indigenous status, Dependency ratio along with Population growth and projections.


Exercise, Recreation and Sport Survey

The Exercise, Recreation and Sport Survey (ERASS) is a joint initiative of the Australian Sports Commission and the state and territory government agencies responsible for sport and recreation. The first survey was conducted in 2001. This publication presents results from the tenth annual ERASS data collection, which was conducted in 2010.

The ERASS collects information on the frequency, duration, nature and type of physical activities that were participated in by persons aged 15 years and over for exercise, recreation or sport during the 12 months prior to interview.


Further Data Sources

  • Department of Immigration - Immigration Statistics (measuring the level of English/increase in settlement/ visa types).
  • Office of Crime Prevention - Community safety and crime prevention profiles.
  • The Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU), provides public health data, data systems and indicators. The unit can provide information on a broad range of health determinants across the life course, with a major emphasis is on the development and publication of small area statistics for monitoring inequality in health and wellbeing.


Local Data Sources

  • The population health profile from your local Division of General Practice or Public Health Unit.
  • Local sport and receation club member statistics.
  • Usage statistics from local government run facilities.
  • Surveys and reports conducted by other teams within your local government.
  • Analysis from projects your local government has previously been funded for (e.g. many grants given from state government require an evaluation which requires data to be collected and recorded).
  • Statistics and reports from state government department (e.g. Department of Transport TravelSmart Evaluation reports, Regional Development Commission reports).
  • Research undertaken by local universities e.g. Curtin University Centre for Sport and Recreation Research (CSRR) and the University of WA Centre for the Built Environment and Health.
  • The Physical Activity Taskforce's  current list of research and reference material relating to the built environment and its impact on healthy and active lifestyles.


Local Government Data Collection In Focus - City of Rockingham

In 2011 the City of Rockingham undertook a Community Infrastructure Plan. In undertaking the plan, the City of Rockingham sourced data from an extensive sources of national, state and local sources including government and non-government agencies.

The plan involved the following steps:

  • Current community profile analysis
  • Current facilities audit
  • Identification of current community infrastructure standards and catchment areas
  • Analysis of future population growth
  • Analysis of projected community profile
  • Determination of infrastructure needs
  • Comparison of gaps and excess capacity within current facilities
  • Development of locally relevant community infrastructure standards and catchment areas
  • Determination of community infrastructure needs, priorities and timing 
  • Preparation of capital (and operating) expenditure schedule.

The plan is a great example of extensive local government data collection.

Download the below presentation delivered at the July 2011 Local Government Grants Seminar for further information.

Applying for Funding – Key Considerations Presentation - City of Rockingham Case Study

Applying for Funding – Key Considerations Presentation - City of Rockingham Case Study

Jo Davies from the Physical Activity Taskforce provided a case study on the City of Rockingham's research and data collection undertaken for their Community Infrastructure Plan.

Resource type:Publications
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Relevance: Local
Year published: 2011