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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

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, the Department of Social Services, 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. As an accredited Integrating Authority, the AIHW has met the National Statistical Service's stringent criteria covering project governance, capability, data management, security, and the protection of privacy and confidentiality. We collaborate with international organisations, including the OECD and World Health Organization, 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.

Further information

Our products

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.

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:

Our people

We have about 320 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, and injury.

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.

Privacy and data governance

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:

AIHW Ethics Committee

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.

Our key documents

Our structure

The AIHW organisation chart provides a visual representation of AIHW management and unit structures.

Our Act and other legislation

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 corporate entity subject to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Australian Government reporting requirements

Freedom of information (FOI)

AIHW Public Interest Disclosure

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID) commenced on 15 January 2014. The Act provides an avenue for public officials to make a disclosure that they reasonably believe meets the definition of disclosable conduct.

The Act also aims to promote the integrity and accountability of the Commonwealth public sector by:

  • encouraging the disclosure of information by public officials about suspected wrongdoing in the public sector;
  • ensuring that public officials who make disclosures are supported and protected from adverse consequences; and
  • ensuring that disclosures are properly investigated.

What is disclosable conduct?

This means conduct by an agency, public official or a contracted Commonwealth service provider that:

  • contravenes a law
  • is corrupt
  • perverts the course of justice
  • results in wastage of public funds or property
  • is an abuse of public trust
  • unreasonably endangers health and safety or endangers the environment
  • is misconduct relating to scientific research, analysis or advice
  • is maladministration, including conduct that is unjust, oppressive or negligent

Who can make a disclosure?

A current or former 'public official' can disclose information that they believe on reasonable grounds tends to show disclosable conduct. This broad term includes Australian Government public servants and parliamentary service employees, members of the Defence force, staff and directors of Commonwealth companies, statutory office holders and staff of Commonwealth contracted service providers.

Protections for the person who makes the disclosure

The identity of a person who makes a disclosure will be kept confidential as far as practicable. It is an offence to provide identifying information about a person who makes a disclosure without their consent unless authorised by the PID Act.

Authorised Officers

Under the PID Act, each agency must appoint authorised officers to handle public interest disclosures. Disclosures can also be made to a supervisor/manager, who must pass it to an authorised officer. For the purposes of this Act the following staff have been appointed as authorised officers:

Mr Andrew Kettle
(02) 6244 1010

Ms Lisa McGlynn
(02) 6244 1168

Who can a disclosure be made to?

You can make a disclosure to your current supervisor or manager or an authorised officer.

Further information

Further information regarding the Public Interest Disclosure Act is available from the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

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