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The important and critical role played by informal carers of people with disabilities will receive greater prominence under new national data collection arrangements announced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare today.
The new data collection arrangements are for the Commonwealth-State Disability Agreement, which will be renamed the Commonwealth-State/Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA) once negotiations have been finalised. In 2000-01 the program involved $2.5 billion of public expenditure.
A major difference is that under the new arrangements data will be collected throughout the year whereas previously information was collected on a single 'snapshot' day.
Head of the AIHW's Functioning and Disability Unit, Ros Madden, said that this would provide better information on the numbers and characteristics of people receiving services, and the patterns of service provision delivered.
'This is especially relevant given the importance of the CSTDA program to people with disabilities and to their carers. A strong evidence base is a vital element in developing good national policy', Ms Madden said.
During the data redevelopment process, all parties involved with the agreement and its administration took the opportunity to fine tune the types of information needed to keep the data collection relevant to the current disability services field.
'This is where the extra information on carers comes in. In recent years we have all seen the growing recognition of the critical role informal support networks play in assisting people with disabilities within the community. The needs of ageing carers are now firmly on the national policy agenda.'
'With this improved data collection we will be able to have a more detailed information profile on carers and the relationships between informal care and the provision of services. And we'll be able to do this while preserving the strictest standards of privacy and confidentiality.'
The disability data redevelopment process involved intensive consultations with stakeholders, CSTDA service users, carers, and disability peak organisations. Hundreds of CSTDA-funded agencies were involved in field testing of the data set throughout its redevelopment to ensure practicality of the collection.
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