Chair's report

Mrs Louise Markus

On behalf of the board of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), I am pleased to present the AIHW’s annual report for 2021–22. Following the federal election, the AIHW is looking forward to working with the new Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP, who is very supportive of the institute’s work.

I continue to be impressed by the professionalism and commitment AIHW staff have shown to their work during sometimes trying circumstances in 2021–22, such as lockdowns and the return of home-learning for schools. The board has closely monitored the AIHW’s response to the ongoing pandemic, which has included investments in technology to enable more staff to work from home as needed.

The provision of timely and robust health and welfare data by agencies, including the AIHW, has proved to be an important tool in government responses to the pandemic and will remain important as policymakers and service providers deal with ongoing challenges to the health and wellbeing of Australians. The experience of the first 2 years of the pandemic were significant in the development of the AIHW strategic directions 20222026. The development of the new strategic directions was overseen and approved the board and builds on the achievements of our previous strategic directions for 2017–2021. The new directions include the strategic goals of being:

  • a trusted leader in health and welfare data and analysis
  • innovative producers of data sets and analysis
  • a strong strategic partner
  • recognised for our organisational excellence.

The board is confident the AIHW will achieve these goals and we will closely monitor progress against a series of objectives designed to support them. These include investing in our skilled workforce and expanding our program of renewal to ensure the provision of high-quality technology and tools to deliver our data and analysis. Many of the strategic issues discussed by the board in 2021–22 were relevant to these goals, including discussions about staffing issues, the introduction of new technology and work with our partners on data linkage projects.

The board is monitoring the implementation of new projects funded in 2021–22, including data work related to mental health, aged care, and family, domestic and sexual violence. While new projects often attract attention, most of our work - such as hospitals reporting, is ongoing. The board is pleased that this work is performed to high standards and that employees are continually improving the quality and relevance of the data and analysis they produce.

The board also looked at its own performance in 2021–22, and consistent with the AIHW’s Charter of Corporate Governance, sought independent advice on both governance and cultural aspects of board performance. The final report was endorsed in May 2022 and members agreed on a plan to address the report’s recommendations at its June meeting. My goal, with the board, is to build on strong performance, and its positive culture, engagement and respect, and continue to support the AIHW to achieve its strategic goals.

I congratulate our Chief Executive Officer, Mr Rob Heferen, for the leadership he has provided during his first full year at the AIHW and look forward to working with him and the rest of the staff in 2022–23.