Data linkage brings together data from multiple sources to better understand complex interactions Australians have with health and welfare services.

Data is collected whenever a person engages with the health system, from seeing their GP and collecting a script to presenting to hospital or outpatient services. The way this data is collected differs across the states and territories, but also across the health service sector making it difficult to connect, compare and measure over time.

Linked data assets bring these data sources together, making it easier for researchers to conduct complex cross-sector and cross-jurisdictional research. This research can be used to improve health policies, provide better access to services and inform treatment pathways and care for chronic disease management, for the benefit of all Australians.

The AIHW holds and arranges access to 3 linked data assets.

Privacy and confidentiality

As an accredited integrated authority, we have a long history in managing data linkage safely and securely.

We are committed to protect personal data and safeguard your privacy. This commitment is underpinned by law.

We do this by:

  • collecting and using personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988
  • de-identifying personal data, which means any identifying data, such as names and addresses, are removed so that a person cannot be identified
  • applying the separation principle to data, which means personal identifiers are stored separately from other data so that no one can see both personal identifiers and analytical data at the same time.
  • embedding the Five Safes Framework – an internationally recognised approach to considering strategic, privacy, security, ethical and operational risks associated with data sharing or release
  • providing a secure environment for authorised researchers to use the linked data asset
  • managing relationships with data custodians to ensure accountability and appropriate use of linked data assets.

All projects using the linked data assets must have ethical approval from the AIHW Ethics Committee.

The AIHW’s data governance framework provides more information about measures we are taking to manage data safely and protect your privacy.