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. Demand for data linkage continues to grow. We completed 82 data linkage projects in 2019–20 compared with 72 in 2018–19 and 61 in 2017–18.
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.
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. Demand for our customised data services continues to increase. We completed 256 customised data requests in 2019–20, compared with 208 in 2018–19 and 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 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 NGOs.
We have been developing a replacement for the current METeOR system to improve the quality of information and the user experience. The replacement of METeOR has proven to be more difficult than expected and its anticipated implementation in 2019–20 was not achieved. The contract with an external provider to replace METeOR was terminated and plans are now underway to develop it in-house in 2020–21. We continue to offer the advantage of a disciplined approach to the development, storage and management of metadata for health and welfare data in Australia that is compliant with international metadata standards.
We have an Ethics Committee established under the AIHW Act to advise on the ethical acceptability of proposed projects. Researchers can submit Ethics applications to the committee on a fee-for-service basis. For more information, see AIHW Ethics Committee .