‘A goal without a plan is just a wish.’
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (French writer 1900–1944)
In 1987, the Institute’s vision was to attract top-quality researchers to ensure state and territory confidence and concentrate on long-term aspects rather than immediate short-term problems. While the information environment (along with fashion and music) may have changed since the 1980s, Matthew James, Deputy Director at the AIHW, believes these ambitions remain core.
‘The Institute has played a major role in improving the comparability and availability of administrative data across Australia. As a result of this work, administrative data are playing an increasing role in research, performance assessment and evaluation,’ said Mr James.
As the cost of information technology falls and the demand for better evidence grows, the role of Institute continues to broaden. There is a growing awareness of the importance of having a broad policy focus rather than just focusing on individual policies or programs, and the work of the Institute increasingly recognises this. For example, the Institute has looked at the extent to which people using drug and alcohol services are using homelessness services and mental health services. The Institute is also increasingly meeting the demand for local data for particular areas and regions.
The need for better evidence also means there is an increasing demand for data on outcomes, and for longitudinal analysis, through which it is possible to follow the experience of people over time. This kind of data not only helps inform policy development, but also enables people to make informed choices about their own lives.
Mr James noted that, with growing demand for timely data and analysis, the bar is constantly rising. To respond to this growing demand, the Institute is working to ensure it is engaged and connected with stakeholders, by taking a conscious and deliberate approach to business improvement.
‘The AIHW has undergone a major restructure of stakeholder engagement and communications services, and has established a dedicated business improvement team,’ he said.
While there’s a strong focus on ensuring a solid strategy around our future goals, there are also several exciting projects paving the way. This section highlights some of these projects.