This Statement of Intent outlines our response to the Statement of Expectations for the AIHW issued by the Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP.


Excellence in health and welfare data

Our reputation as a world-class statistical agency has been built over more than 30 years of excellence in health- and welfare-related information. We will continue to produce high-quality and timely statistical information to support an increased understanding of health and welfare issues and retain the trust of governments and the Australian community.

We have identified opportunities to improve the degree of timeliness of our work and this is a priority action area for 2020–21. Our experience in supporting the response to the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted our flexibility in adapting to the needs of governments. We also acted to improve the timeliness of data to inform the national response in areas including hospital activity and capacity, the use of mental health services and the use of homelessness services. We commit to building on these achievements to improve our processes in the longer term.

Identifying and filling gaps in health and welfare data is an ongoing strategic priority. We will collaborate with stakeholders to develop solutions to fill gaps and enhance our data holdings with the addition of new data assets.

We will continue to invest in data linkage to support the data needs of policymakers and researchers. We will build on our expertise in the linkage of our data holdings and identify potential new opportunities for linkage with our stakeholders. Some of our key data linkage activities include:

  • enhancements to the National Integrated Health Services Information Analysis Asset
  • developing the National Disability Data Asset with the Department of Social Services
  • developing a person-based COVID-19 linked data set for ongoing monitoring of health outcomes and health system use of people who have had a diagnosis of COVID-19.

We will provide national and international leadership in the development, maintenance and promotion of statistical information standards in health and welfare through collaboration with stakeholders across governments, research bodies and the health and welfare sectors. In particular we are investing in an updated metadata repository for national data standards.

Strategic partnerships

Our success is built on strong formal and informal relationships with Australian, state and territory government agencies and non-government organisations. Data from these agencies and organisations is vital to achieving our functions. We encourage participation in our committees and working groups to leverage their subject-matter expertise and receive valuable feedback on our products.

We maintain memoranda of understanding or similar agreements with many of these organisations. We will continue to engage with stakeholders to align our work with the priorities of governments and the research community to ensure relevance and maintain our position as Australia’s leading health and welfare statistics agency.

We will work closely with the Department of Health and other Commonwealth agencies to achieve their strategic goals and drive data improvements. Similarly we will continue to build on our strength in working with state and territory health and welfare agencies to achieve their strategic goals and develop nationally consistent data.

Building the evidence base

We recognise the significant role of data and information in providing the evidence base to drive changes in improving health and welfare policy and service delivery. We will build on our trusted status to identify and respond to gaps and opportunities in multisource health and welfare data holdings. Findings from recent Royal Commissions and other inquiries have highlighted the importance of timely and meaningful data. We will work with stakeholders to align data standards and delivery timeframes to improve the quality of data to build the evidence base.

We are an expert source of value-added analysis. We are investing in the skills and expertise of our staff to improve the presentation of data, analysis of trends and report on outcomes and comparisons across organisations, regions and internationally.

We will conduct and release timely analysis into the health of Australians and their use of health services. We will develop methods and analyse the provision, use, cost and effectiveness of health services and technologies. We will continue to work with our data providers to improve the timeliness of data supply and improve our processes to release data closer to the end of the collection period. Researchers will also continue to access sensitive data through our secure research environment.

We will provide timely reporting on the health of Australians and the performance of the health system under the Australian Health Performance Framework. We will collaborate with governments to develop indicators and report these nationally and at other geographical levels. We will also support the data and performance information needs of national agreements including the National Health Reform Agreement – Addendum 2020–25.

We will identify potential data linkage opportunities between diverse data sets in health, welfare and other subject areas. We will seize these opportunities to develop a better understanding of the inter-relationships between health, welfare and other social factors; consistent with our person-centred model for reporting data.

Key publications

We will publish over 180 policy-relevant products each year. We continue to improve the accessibility and usability of information with product releases supported by data and visual analytics to meet the different needs of stakeholders. As required by the AIHW Act, we will produce our biennial flagship publications, Australia’s health and Australia’s welfare, and present them to you for tabling in Parliament.

We continue to move away from static reporting products. We will leverage emerging technology and enhance our products and services to provide data and information tailored to diverse access, timeliness and quality requirements. We will regularly update data on our website where possible to improve the utility of our information to users.

Relationship with minister and portfolio

We will keep the Minister for Health informed with accurate and timely advice on health and welfare information and statistics. We will maintain the very strong and productive relationship with the Department of Health and ensure they are alert to forthcoming releases. All portfolio ministers and the department will have embargo access to our products prior to public release. We will support the department in briefing ministers on the key findings of our products and we will continue to support the department through the provision of unpublished data such as our current compilation of weekly data on the use of mental health services.

We recognise the interest of other Australian Government ministers, including Minister Ruston, and will continue to maintain and improve our productive relationships with their departments and agencies. As the breadth of our work program continues to expand, we will extend the same courtesy to other ministers and their agencies.

Organisational governance, financial management and data governance

We will continue to manage our resources efficiently and effectively under the oversight of the AIHW Board. We will comply with the Commonwealth Resource Management Framework, relevant provisions of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, the Public Service Act 1999 and other government directions. We will maintain strong controls over the proper use of the Commonwealth’s financial resources.

We will uphold and promote Australian Public Service values in our employment policies and in our leadership and management of all staff.

We operate consistently with the Australian Government’s commitment to open data and data-driven innovation and place data in the public domain wherever possible. We rely upon strong data governance to perform our functions effectively and maintain a trusted reputation amongst our many data suppliers, data users and other stakeholders. We manage data professionally, with due respect for its sensitivity. Privacy and confidentiality is assured through our legislation and through robust data policies and procedures. These include the use of rigorous controls to determine access and release arrangements and through the scrutiny of the independent AIHW Ethics Committee.

We are committed to investing in and improving our ICT capabilities that are essential to supporting our work, with a particular focus on cyber security capability and awareness as they are critical to maintaining the security of our systems and data holdings.

Transparency and accountability

We will be transparent and accountable in our role as Australia’s leading health and welfare statistical agency. Each year, we will publish a corporate plan and annual report. The AIHW’s CEO and other senior executives will make themselves available for Senate Estimates and other parliamentary hearings.