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Our mission

Authoritative information and statistics to promote better health and wellbeing

Who we are

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is the national agency set up to provide information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare. We are a statutory authority accountable to the Australian Parliament, and are governed by a Board comprising independent and government members. Our work is used to inform debate and decisions on policy and services. We have a strong commitment to providing impartial and objective information and advice in all our work, and this independence is valued by stakeholders and users of our statistics.

We publish more than 150 reports each year, ranging from flagship publications to substantive reports, ‘in brief’ publications, journal articles and short discussion papers. Our flagships, Australia’s health and Australia’s welfare, are published in alternate years. We have an expanding range of innovative web products, including the MyHospitals website reporting individual hospital data, the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, and online interactive health and welfare data sets.

We collaborate with a range of experts from around Australia, including Australian, state and territory government health, housing and community services agencies; universities and research centres; and peak non-government organisations. We collaborate closely with the Australian Bureau of Statistics, particularly in our use of Census and survey data. Researchers in universities and similar organisations carry out work relevant to our mission under collaborative arrangements that have the legislative backing of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act.

We enjoy national and international recognition for our expertise in analysis and reporting of health, housing and community services information; our leadership in data integration; our management of national data collections and health registers; and the development of data set specifications, data definitions and classification systems. An important part of our work is promoting consistency among national, state and territory statistics so that we can produce and compare comprehensive national data of the highest standard. Our work also contributes to international statistics and draws on international standards reported by bodies such as the World Health Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

How we can work with you

The Australian Government directly funds some of our work, but we also provide value-for-money services on contract to government and non-government clients who share our commitment to authoritative information and statistics to promote better health and wellbeing.

We also undertake specific projects that draw on our professional and administrative expertise to produce national health, housing and community services information, or use unpublished statistical information from our data holdings to inform policy issues or research questions.

We can assist you to:

  • research, write and publish health and welfare reports
  • develop robust methods for analysis of national data sets to address specific research or policy questions
  • monitor, review or evaluate policy
  • identify information requirements and manage data collections 
  • design and conduct health and welfare surveys
  • design and undertake complex data integration projects 
  • build and manage information clearinghouses 
  • develop innovative web and print products presenting health and welfare information and statistics
  • define and classify data, and develop data set specifications 
  • develop health and welfare data standards.

Our expertise

We can make a valuable contribution to your health and welfare information needs through our expertise in:

  • collecting, analysing and publishing health and welfare statistics and information
  • online data receipt and validation using our custom-built Validata™
  • developing methodologies for designing and analysing statistical collections 
  • conducting data integration (linkage) work
  • working with administrative data
  • conducting and analysing national surveys
  • developing registers
  • developing national statistical standards and classifications, and registering these in our award-winning metadata repository, METeOR 
  • rationalising health, housing and community services information activity across national agencies. 
  • monitoring, reviewing and evaluating health and welfare programs
  • hypothetical modelling of the impact of policy initiatives
  • developing innovative web and print products to communicate health and welfare information 
  • building the evidence base for Indigenous health and welfare policy development 
  • assessing the provision, use, cost and effectiveness of health, housing and community services 
  • helping others to identify and define their information needs.

Our people

Our services are provided by highly competent staff who have contemporary skills and knowledge in areas including:

  • statistical methodologies and analysis, including data linkage, validation and micro-simulation 
  • epidemiology, demography, psychology and sociology 
  • data and metadata development and management
  • communications, specialising in health and welfare information and online reporting 
  • health and welfare service delivery.

About 80 percent of our staff are tertiary-qualified, with half of those postgraduate level. They bring multi-disciplinary expertise and a variety of academic and research experience and cultural perspectives to their work. Together we have a rich corporate culture, based around our shared commitment to producing high quality work.

Our work

Robust data and evidence

The AIHW provides statistical information and independent advice to the Australian and state and territory governments to inform policy in the health and welfare sectors.

We play a central role in designing specifications and supplying information for performance indicator reporting by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council, the Report on Government Services, and the Productivity Commission’s Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage series.

We work with our stakeholders to refine and develop data collections to support emerging policy issues. For example, we have recently developed the Specialist Homelessness Services data collection, including an online data collection portal and client management tool, to support government efforts to address homelessness in Australia.

Through our work on the Healthy for Life Program, data are returned to Indigenous primary health-care services, providing them with information on data quality, as well as interpretation and analysis. This supports Continuous Quality Improvement processes and is an excellent example of how data can be used to improve service delivery.

Our online data receipt and validation product, Validata™, has been designed to improve the quality and timeliness of data supplied by jurisdictions and non-government organisations. Currently being used to facilitate online submission and validation of hospitals and homelessness data, the product is now progressively being extended across other AIHW data collections.

Health and welfare reports

We pride ourselves on our ability to produce clear and readable reports that also provide a sophisticated level of informed analysis. The reports are designed for a range of stakeholders, including various levels of government, academia, non-government organisations and the general public. For many data collections we produce a suite of products, including user-friendly summary publications and web products, comprehensive statistical reports, and accompanying detailed statistics that are presented online as spreadsheets or data cubes.

Because we collect and hold data on a diverse range of subjects across the health and welfare fields, we can focus on specific subjects, such as the incidence of a particular disease, or the number of people requiring particular government services, and also produce thematic reports linking material from different subject areas.

Authoritative studies

Our research capabilities inform authoritative studies on a wide range of health and welfare issues of relevance to policy makers, academics and the public. We engage closely with our stakeholders and external advisers to ensure the high quality, policy relevance and usefulness of our work, which ranges from timely data reporting to presentation of detailed statistical analyses. Just a few examples include:

Cancer in Australia: an overview 2012 is is a joint report produced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the state and territory members of the Australasian Association of Cancer Registries; it is a product of the National Cancer Statistics Clearing House. The report is the sixteenth in the AIHW’s Cancer in Australia series and presents the latest available information on incidence, mortality, survival, prevalence, burden of cancer, hospitalisations and national cancer screening programs. The report shows that survival rates for most types of cancer are improving. However, the number of new cancer cases diagnosed in Australia each year almost doubled between 1991 and 2009, mainly due to population growth and population ageing. The main report is accompanied by a summary document, Cancer in Australia: in brief 2012.

Children and young people at risk of social exclusion: links between homelessness, child protection and juvenile justice uses innovative data analysis to link available child protection, juvenile justice and Supported Accommodation Assistance Program data. Analysis of the linked data shows that children and young people who are involved in one of these three sectors are more likely to be involved in another of the sectors than the general population. While the results are limited by data availability at this stage, the project highlights the valuable information obtainable through data linkage.

Dementia in Australia provides a comprehensive picture of dementia in Australia. The report was by launched by AIHW Director and CEO David Kalisch, and the President of Alzheimer’s Australia, Ita Buttrose, at the 2012 National Dementia Research Forum in Canberra. Around 298,000 Australians had dementia in 2011, and this is estimated to reach almost 400,000 by 2020, and 900,000 by 2050.

Australia’s food and nutrition 2012 is the follow-up to the AIHW’s first comprehensive report on food and nutrition in Australia, released in 1994. Australia’s food and nutrition 2012 was launched by the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King, at the 2012 World Congress of the International Federation for Home Economics in Melbourne. The report highlights the key parts of the food and nutrition system from ‘paddock to plate’ and how food choices affect health and the environment. The report shows that many Australians are eating too much of some foods and not enough of others. The main report is accompanied by a summary document, Australia’s food and nutrition 2012: in brief.

The online interactive Mental health services in Australia report provides the most recent information about the activity and characteristics of Australia’s mental health care services and is updated progressively each year as more recent data become available.

As part of the National Indigenous Reform Agreement, the AIHW is working with the Australian and state and territory governments to develop a set of national key performance indicators (nKPIs) for Indigenous-specific primary health-care services. The nKPIs will be reported by all government-funded Indigenous primary health-care services in the context of the Council of Australian Governments’ commitment to Close the Gap in Indigenous disadvantage.

Health and welfare surveys

We manage a range of large survey-based collections, including the Prisoner Health Census, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, the National Infant Feeding Survey, and the National Social Housing Survey, demonstrating our ability to carry out appropriately targeted research using survey methodologies.

Detailed analyses of survey data are used to inform health and welfare planning. For example, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey is the leading population survey related to alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use in Australia, and is used to inform policy, monitor trends and evaluate progress under the National Drug Strategy 2010–15.

The 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey collected information from more than 26,000 parents and carers of infants aged 0–24 months. As the first special-purpose, large-scale survey on this topic, the results provide solid baseline data relevant to the 2010–15 Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy, including information on the barriers to initiating and continuing breastfeeding.

Innovative web products

A rich collection of health and welfare information is presented on the AIHW website in innovative formats, including subject-specific snapshots supported by more detailed layers of data; and observatories and clearinghouses that gather diverse topic-based information into a central repository. Online data sets (cubes) with interactive build-your-own-data table facilities are also featured on the website. All AIHW-managed websites are designed to be user-friendly and conform to website accessibility requirements.

The AIHW developed the myhospitals.gov.au website and currently manages it under contract to the National Health Performance Authority (NHPA). MyHospitals presents the first nationally consistent reporting of individual hospital performance information. Extensive consumer research and innovative design contributed to a state-of-the-art website with strong popular appeal.

Information clearinghouses

The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse is managed in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Family Studies. It provides access to a collection of quality-assessed information on what works to overcome Indigenous disadvantage. The Clearinghouse will provide policy makers and program managers with an evidence base for achieving the Closing the Gap targets and related Indigenous reforms. For Indigenous Australians this will mean more effective delivery of policies and services that address Indigenous disadvantage.

Data integration

Data integration (also known as data linkage) involves bringing together information about people, places and events in a way that protects individual privacy and confidentiality. The resulting data sets are used for statistical and research purposes only and are disposed of as soon as the project is completed. Research based on integrated data sets is used in the health sector to examine a range of health issues and provide us with a picture of the health and well-being of our community. The results from these studies have provided valuable information on the causes of and risk factors for disease; the evaluation of new approaches to prevention, early intervention and treatment; and the assessment of new and more effective ways of delivering health services.

An example of the AIHW’s data integration work is the Pathways in Aged Care project that uses data linkage to understand more about the services accessed by people who have had aged care assessments. This information can be used to support planning and budgeting for aged care places.

Health and welfare data standards

The AIHW manages national health and welfare data standards through its work with national information committees to produce the National Health Data Dictionary, the National Community Services Data Dictionary, and the National Housing Assistance Data Dictionary. METeOR, Australia's award-winning metadata online registry for health, community services and housing assistance, is managed by the AIHW.

Contact us

For further information on how we can provide products and services for your organisation, please phone the Institute on (02) 6244 1000 or email

Customised data analysis

If you are looking for statistics that are not available in publications or data cubes, we also offer a data request service. Customised tables can be provided, subject to data quality and confidentiality requirements, from a range of AIHW-held databases. Please note that a fee may apply for this service.

Telephone

(02) 6244 1000

International callers, please use
+61 2 6244 1000.

Facsimile

(02) 6244 1299

Post

AIHW
GPO Box 570
Canberra ACT 2601
Australia

Visit

1 Thynne Street
Fern Hill Park
Bruce ACT 2617
Australia