David Kalisch, AIHW Director

A message from David Kalisch

Welcome to the first issue of AIHW Access for 2011, and my first issue as Director.

I have come to the Institute after many years dealing with social policy issues, and have been an extensive user of AIHW information across a number of its areas of activity. One of my interests is to work with data suppliers and our own internal processes to ensure the timeliness of information published by the Institute. Major steps have been made recently to improve the timeliness of hospital information, but I understand that the desire of stakeholders for accurate information as soon as possible will continue, and we are looking for further opportunities to improve the availability and accessibility of the Institute’s valuable data and information resource.

I would also like to take this opportunity to profile the new homelessness data collection that we are currently developing at the AIHW, the Specialist Homelessness Services or SHS collection. This collection, which ‘goes live’ on 1 July 2011, replaces the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) collection.

This is a major project for the Institute and the sector, which includes rolling out a new Client Management System for Homelessness services. You will hear more about this as it gets closer to implementation, but the most exciting part is that it will deliver improved understandings about people using homelessness services.

On another front, the Institute is looking forward to expanding its activities in data linkage, building upon the expertise and infrastructure we already have in this area, and working within the framework now established in the Commonwealth government to protect the security and privacy of information. Data linkage has the potential to enable better understanding of complex social policy problems, in order to contribute to better policy and service responses.

Also continuing into 2011 will be our on-going work on the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) national agreement performance indicators and targets in the fields of health care and hospitals, housing and homelessness, disability services and Indigenous reform. The Institute has considerable expertise linking our understanding of performance reporting and the data sources, across a wide range of public policy areas.

While 2011 is obviously the immediate priority, I would like to close by reflecting on a couple of interesting projects from 2010.

While a Commissioner at the Productivity Commission I had a lead role in the Commission’s Research Study into the Performance of Public and Private Hospitals, which highlighted the public benefits of greater availability and transparency of information.

One of the most exciting projects at AIHW over the past year was the development of the MyHospitals website as part of the AIHW’s suite of hospitals information and statistics. While we have long produced national information on hospital performance, this is the first time that information has been available to the public at individual hospital level, and the information is presented in a format relevant to internet access.

The site (www.myhospitals.gov.au) was launched in December 2010 by the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Nicola Roxon MP. More information about the MyHospitals site can be found in this newsletter (see menu).

In other news, one of our best-known publications, Cancer in Australia, was revamped in 2010 and produced in two versions, Cancer in Australia 2010: an overview, and Cancer in Australia 2010: in brief. More information on these new reports can be found in this newsletter (see menu).

I am very glad to have joined the Institute at such an exciting time and look forward to working with our partner organisations.

David Kalisch

New AIHW Director

The AIHW has undergone a significant leadership change, with the appointment of David Kalisch as its new Director. David succeeds Dr Penny Allbon, who served just under 5 years as AIHW Director.

David brings a wealth of experience to the Institute having most recently worked as a Commissioner at the Productivity Commission, and prior to that in senior executive positions at the Department of Health and Ageing, the Department of Family and Community Services and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Penny Allbon and David Kalisch

David is no stranger to the AIHW, having served on the AIHW Board for three years in his capacity as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing.

He has also worked as a consultant to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and has held positions on the boards of the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the National Blood Authority.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon said on announcing the appointment that David ‘has a deep understanding of the relevance of reliable data to policy development, and brings extensive senior executive experience in health and welfare issues to the table. Mr Kalisch will be an asset to the Institute and play a key leadership role into the future’.

In his first address to Institute staff, David said that he was looking forward to leading this significant national institution, to getting to know and working with staff at the Institute, and the Institute playing a stronger role in informing policy deliberations and service delivery strategies.