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The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government under the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare. We are an independent statutory authority established in 1987, governed by a management Board, and accountable to the Australian Parliament through the Health portfolio.
Our aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians through better health and welfare information and statistics. We collect and report information on a wide range of topics and issues, ranging from health and welfare expenditure, hospitals, disease and injury, and mental health, to ageing, homelessness, disability and child protection.
Governments and the community use our reports and data in discussing, debating, and making policy decisions on health, housing and community services matters.
What we do
AIHW Ethics Committee
Our key documents
Our Act and other legislation
Australian Government reporting requirements
Freedom of information (FOI)
The AIHW produces authoritative and interesting reports, and other information products, on key health and welfare issues in Australia. One of our primary roles is to collect, analyse and report information drawn from health services, community services and housing assistance services.
Data are the core resource of the Institute. In doing our work we collaborate closely and have effective data partnerships with many experts from around Australia, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics, governments at all levels, universities, research centres, and non-government organisations. The AIHW also has agreements with a number of government departments and other organisations, which include Memorandums of Understanding with stakeholders such as the Department of Health and Ageing, the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Cancer Australia and the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
One of our more recent key roles has been to develop, build and improve performance indicators and targets for national agreements between the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments; particularly in the areas of health care and hospitals, housing and homelessness, disability services and Indigenous health and welfare reform.
The Institute's expertise includes building capability in data linkage in order to understand the complex relationships in health and welfare. We collaborate with international organisations, including the OECD and World Health Organisation, to link to global data standards and research understandings.
The Institute also plays a role in developing and maintaining national metadata standards. These are housed in METeOR (Metadata electronic Online Repository), Australia's repository for national metadata standards forthe health, community services and housing assistance information. This work contributes to improving the quality and consistency of national health and welfare statistics. The Institute works closely with governments and non-government organisations to achieve greater adherence to these standards in administrative data collections to promote national consistency and comparability of data and reporting.
The Institute releases around 150 publications every year including two flagship publications Australia's Health and Australia's Welfare, and numerous shorter reports, bulletins and online information pages and data. All our publications are available as free downloads from our website.
Australia's Health and Australia's Welfare are released in alternate years. These substantial and well-researched publications highlight the current state of play in these sectors and are an excellent resource for information on health and welfare needs and services in Australia.
In 2010 the AIHW developed and built the MyHospitalswebsite and we are continuing to develop and update it. The site is an Australian Government initiative to inform the community about how individual hospitals are performing.
We also maintain the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse website which provides access to research and other evidence on what works to overcome Indigenous disadvantage.
Because we collect and hold data on a diverse range of subjects, we have the opportunity to explore linkages across the health and welfare spheres.
Areas we work on include:
We have about 350 staff based in Canberra. Our staff are skilled in statistical analysis, epidemiology and demography, information development, data management, communication and public sector administration. Collaborating units based at universities bring specialist knowledge to areas such as asthma, dental health, injury, the burden of disease, immunisation, HIV/AIDS and public health.
We offer graduate and postgraduate opportunities for people of all ages interested in health, housing and community service issues. All our staff have access to learning and development opportunities.
As a government agency, the AIHW is bound to comply with the Privacy Act 1988, (Cth), which incorporates a series of Information Privacy Principles (IPPs). The IPPs regulate how the AIHW obtains, stores, uses and discloses personal information. The AIHW Act also assists in the protection of individual privacy by creating criminal penalties which may apply to individuals who disclose information concerning a person without proper authorisation. For a general overview on how the AIHW protects the privacy of individuals, read our Safeguarding your privacy brochure [1.9MB PDF].
Further information about AIHW’s legal obligations and the Institute’s data custody and governance arrangements:
The AIHW Ethics Committee was established by the AIHW Act. The Committee's functions are prescribed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Ethics Committee Regulations 1989 (the Regulations) which give the Committee the power to assess the ethical acceptability of internal research activities and the activities of the AIHW's partner institutions.
The Regulations also empower the Committee to make decisions on the acceptability of releasing data to external researchers. The Committee is composed of medical and legal professionals, a representative of the Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the states and territories, members of the community, a minister of religion and the AIHW's Director.
The AIHW organisation chart provides a visual representation of AIHW management and unit structures.
We are an Australian Government statutory authority accountable to Parliament and operate under the provisions of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987. Our Act ensures that the data collections we manage are kept securely and under the strictest conditions with respect to privacy and confidentiality.
The Institute is governed by a Board, as specified in section 8(1) of the AIHW Act (see the relevant appendix of the AIHW Annual Report).
The Institute is defined as a body corporate subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.
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