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Under the National Indigenous Reform Agreement (the Agreement), the Australian Government was given the responsibility to develop, in partnership with states and territories, national Key Performance Indicators (nKPIs) for Indigenous specific primary healthcare organisations. The Agreement also stipulated the development of a coordinated data collection to fill existing data gaps in primary health care sector. These nKPIs are expected to link the activities of the Australian government funded organisations that provide primary health care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the COAG Closing the Gap targets (in particular, the targets for life expectancy and child mortality).

The indicators provide the evidence base required to enable monitoring of the contribution of primary health care system in achieving Closing the Gap targets. The indicators:

  • highlight the major health issues affecting the clients of Indigenous-specific primary health care organisations (especially those of maternal health, early childhood and the detection and prevention of chronic diseases)
  • outline the extent to which government-funded Indigenous-specific primary health care organisations collect, record and review pertinent data on these issues, and reveal changes in health risks or outcomes that may be driven by the quality of care that government-funded organisations provide to their clients.

Development of nKPIs

A draft list of 24 Key Performance Indicators based on the critical assessment of existing and potential indicators in national agreements and some state and territory reporting was prepared in late 2010 by the then Department of Health and Ageing
in partnership with state and territory health departments and in collaboration with the AIHW.

A Technical Working Group (TWG) including representatives of NACCHO, peak-bodies of ACCHOs, state governments, the AIHW and other technical experts, was established to inform the development of the indicators.

The National Advisory Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Information and Data (NAGATSIHID) supported a draft indicator set in December 2010 and in early 2011, the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council (AHMAC) gave in-principle approval.

Indicators specifications were finalised after advice from the TWG and NAGATSIHID. Required approval by the National Health Information Standards and Statistics Committee (NHISSC) and endorsement by National Health Information and Performance Principal Committee (NHIPPC) and AHMAC occurred for 22 indicators. These approved indicators were introduced in stages:

  • 11 indicators were introduced in a trial collection that took place in March 2012. Collection of these indicators commenced from 1 July 2012.
  • 8 further indicators were collected from 1 January 2013, with an additional 2 in December 2014. One further indicator was collected from December 2015.
  • 2 indicators—Alcohol consumption result and Absolute cardiovascular risk assessment result—will be collected from June 2017.

All nKPI definitions and technical specifications are available on the AIHW's Metadata Online Registry (METeOR) which is Australia's repository for national metadata standards for health, housing and community services statistics and information.

Currently, around 240 Australian government funded primary health care organisations located across Australia participate in the nKPI data collection. The collection is expected to be extended to state/territory funded primary health care organisations.

Ongoing maintenance and management of nKPIs

The AIHW is responsible for the ongoing management and maintenance of the nKPI data specifications on METeOR and the national database.

Any changes to existing indicator definitions or addition of new indicators will need to be approved through relevant national committees including NHISSC, NHIPPC and AHMAC.