We undertake data linkage to bring together data from multiple sources to better understand the health and welfare of Australians and the interactions they have with health and welfare services.

We are an international leader in data linkage with a strong record both in our own linkage work, and in performing linkage for other researchers. We are an Accredited Data Service Provider (ADSP) under the Data Availability and Transparency Act (DATA) Scheme and have a long history in managing data linkage safely and securely. (See Data governance for more information).

Our Data Integration Services Centre (DISC) assists researchers with customised data linkage projects that will have a clear benefit to the community. Our data linkage service includes:

  • providing help and advice on project design and methodology
  • assisting with seeking Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Ethics Committee approval
  • negotiating access to relevant datasets
  • facilitating customised linkage of datasets held by the institute, or other custodians
  • providing secure file transfer
  • providing access to data through secure environments if required
  • destroying data securely.

We receive a high volume of data linkage requests and operate on a cost-recovery basis. You can read more about the costs associated with data linkage on Data linkage costs.

Researchers are advised to consult researcher resources and ensure they understand the data linkage process and requirements, including approvals.

Accessing linked data

All data linkage projects must be approved by the AIHW Ethics Committee, a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) registered with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

To prepare for AIHW Ethics Committee review, researchers must first complete a feasibility questionnaire and technical assessment (described below).

1. Feasibility questionnaire

Researchers are required to complete a short feasibility questionnaire to provide information that will allow DISC to identify any technical, privacy or ethical issues that need to be addressed, before providing a quote for the data linkage project.

Fees apply for DISC’s assessment of the project and provision of a formal quote. See data linkage costs for more information.

  1. Contact DISC by emailing [email protected] to obtain a feasibility questionnaire.
  2. Upon submission of the questionnaire for DISC review, you will be advised of the review fee that applies and will be issued an invoice.
  3. If your project is determined to be feasible based on DISC’s review of the feasibility questionnaire, DISC will provide you with a written quote and a technical assessment form.

2. Technical assessment

The AIHW Ethics Committee will only consider data linkage projects that include a technical assessment that has been approved by the DISC.

The technical assessment provides the AIHW Ethics Committee with information about the technical elements of your project. DISC works closely with researchers to ensure the technical assessment form meets all project linkage, data custodian and AIHW Ethics Committee requirements.

The technical assessment form must address feedback provided by DISC and AIHW data custodians before DISC will approve it for submission to the AIHW Ethics Committee.

Visit Researcher resources for information about national datasets and helpful tips to assist you along the linkage pathway.

3. Ethics approvals

Once DISC signs off the technical assessment, the AIHW Ethics Secretariat will review the project to identify, investigate, and resolve privacy and ethical issues prior to consideration by the AIHW Ethics Committee.

The Ethics Online System (EthOS) is used for lodgement and management of all projects requiring approval by the AIHW Ethics Committee.

Visit AIHW Ethics Committee for more information, including EthOS application fee details.

Queries about EthOS and AIHW Ethics Committee processes should be directed to the AIHW Ethics Secretariat at [email protected].

Contact us

Contact the AIHW Data Integration Services Centre via [email protected] to request a quote, or if you have any questions about data linkage services.