Accessing government health & welfare data

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The Australian Government's Declaration of Open Government in July 2010 affirmed its commitment to open government through the provision of accessible and reusable government information.

Publicly available data

Open Government data

  • data.gov.au provides an easy way to find, access and reuse public datasets from the Australian Government.

Social security payment data

Datasets relating to social security payments, as paid by the Department of Human Services through Centrelink, include:

  • Federal electorate level data (pre-March 2014). Social Security Payment Statistics by Federal electorate boundaries, before March 2014.
  • Federal electorate level data (post-March 2014). Social Security Payment Statistics by Federal electorate boundaries, post March 2014.
  • Customer population data Published statistical information includes customer population data for key payments, with a pre-defined drill-down available for relevant demographic characteristics (for example, gender, age) and geographic characteristics (for example, national, state and territory).

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data

You can browse our data collections for details on the formats available for AIHW data and information. 

The Reports and statistics section provides access to all our publications divided into topic clusters for easy reference:

Health and welfare overview

Health & welfare services

Population groups

Health conditions, disability and deaths

Behaviours and risk factors

Health data

Data access and release policy (health data)

Consistent with the whole-of-government approach to making government information publicly available, the Department of Health's Data Access and Release Policy encourages the release of data to support research, consumer information and policy decisions, while meeting its legal and contractual obligations to respect privacy, recognise intellectual property and manage risks.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data

The statistics section of the Australian Bureau of Statistics website gives you access to the full range of its statistical and reference information. You can browse data by topics such as:

State and territory data

Your state or territory health department may also have data for public use. Check their websites:

Legislation and agreements governing release of data

The decision to release data is governed by legislation and contractual agreements between Australian Government departments and agencies.

Examples of relevant legislation include:

The Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Social Security, Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare collaborate to support the research community in providing information that can assist with better health and welfare research outcomes.

Data on request

Where statistical information is not available publicly, you may request ad-hoc statistical reporting. This level of reporting allows access to reports and information at a statistical aggregate level and focuses on specific counts (that is, payment population by state or territory by age).

All ad-hoc requests are assessed against legislation and privacy principles and bilateral agreements with partner policy agencies, to determine if the information can be lawfully disclosed for a secondary purpose.

Release considerations include:

  • Purpose—a specific research question or public benefit defined outcome has been identified which can reasonably be expected to support improvement of the health or wellbeing of Australians.
  • Anonymity—anonymity checks are required before the provision of information is approved and again before the information is provided, to ensure data cannot identify an individual or entity where consent is not given.
  • Consent—identified and identifiable information can only be provided with the valid consent of the identified people or entities. For consent to be valid it must be free, informed, competent and current.
  • Secrecy provisions—requests can only be approved if information can be released in accordance with relevant secrecy provisions, in line with relevant legislation.
  • Privacy—the release of data meets the purpose for which it was collected.

Charges may be levied to cover the costs of ad-hoc statistical data preparation.

Who do I contact for ad-hoc data requests?

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Review AIHW data on request.

Department of Health

Email [email protected]

Department of Human Services

Email [email protected]

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Phone the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or email [email protected]  

Data linkage

Data linkage brings together information from different sources to create a new, richer datasets that can tell a bigger story. It is cost-effective because it re-uses existing data sets.

Data linkage involves identifying and combining information from corresponding records on each dataset. The end product is a consolidated record comprising some data from each dataset.

Where linkage of data uses Australian Government data,  strict requirements apply for collecting and releasing the linked data. The Australian Government’s data integration principles require an accredited integrating authority to link the data, if the data steward considers the project to be high risk. The integrating authority is accountable for the implementation of a data integration project and must ensure that risks have been assessed, managed and mitigated throughout the project, in line with agreed requirements of data custodians.

Who do I contact to discuss a data linkage project?

For projects that will link Australian Government data, contact the AIHW Data Integration Services Centre [email protected] for initial advice, help designing your research project and getting it approved, and a cost estimate. The Australian Government’s two other accredited integrating authorities are the:

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Email [email protected] after reviewing the AIHW data linkage services brochure (2MB PDF).

Department of Health

Email [email protected] for guidance through the approvals process.

Department of Human Services

Email [email protected]

Department of Social Services

Email [email protected]

National Statistical Service

The National Statistical Service website has more information.

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Email [email protected] or read ABS' skills and experience in data integration.

Further information

Read Statistical Data Integration involving Commonwealth Data.

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