One of our core services is linking data sets to help researchers and policymakers tell a bigger story. Data linkage re-uses existing data and is non-intrusive because it avoids the need to re-contact people whose information has already been collected. We completed 72 data linkage projects in 2018–19 compared with 61 in 2017–18 .
Many of the products highlighted in this chapter would not have been possible without linking multiple data sets (for examples, see Outcomes of cancer screening programs and National Integrated Health Services Information Analysis Asset).
All governments in Australia agree that, while protecting privacy, data should be more freely available so it is used more widely and efficiently. Australia's data collections are resources that offer great potential to understand health and welfare issues better and to improve and save lives. We collect and hold data assets on many subjects and from multiple administrative data sets. This means that we are in a unique position to link data across many health and welfare spheres.
We are an Australian Government accredited Integrating Authority and an international leader in data linkage. Legislation permits us to release data and we have the technical capability and governance arrangements to do so safely and securely. The AIHW Act enables us to provide researchers with secure access to data and information about vital health and welfare topics. We also comply with the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act).
Details of our robust data governance arrangements are at Data governance.
We provide data on request, which enables researchers to access data tables from our data assets on a cost-recovery basis. We completed 208 customised data requests in 2018–19 compared with 184 in 2017–18.
More information on our data request service is available at www.aihw.gov.au/our-services/data-on-request.
We administer the METeOR—Australia’s repository for national data standards in the health, community services, housing assistance, homelessness and early childhood sectors.
Metadata are information about how data are defined, structured and represented. They are important because they can provide meaning and context to data by describing how data are captured and the business rules for collecting data. Metadata also assist in the interpretation of data and support consistency in the collection, analysis and reporting of data and understanding the comparability of results.
We also offer metadata support services for metadata developed or revised by a registration authority. Registration authorities are responsible for endorsing data standards for different sectors and can include Australian, state and territory government departments and non-government organisations.
We have been developing a replacement for the current METeOR system to improve the quality of information and the user experience. The new METeOR will be implemented in 2019–20.
Ethics application management
We have an Ethics Committee which has been established under the AIHW Act.
Information on our AIHW Ethics Committee is in Chapter 4: Our governance.
We launched our new Ethics Online System (EthOS) for managing applications to the Ethics Committee on 15 February 2019. EthOS allows researchers to:
- lodge applications for projects to be considered by the committee
- lodge monitoring reports
- lodge requests for information
- track the progress of their application.
Information on lodging and managing request to the committee are available at www.aihw.gov.au/our-services/committees/aihw-ethics-committee.