This report describes Phase 1 of a support and evaluation project for the AIHW National best practice guidelines for collecting Indigenous status in health data sets (the Guidelines). The project, conducted between July 2011 and December 2012, helped to implement the Guidelines in selected areas, to document implementation activities, to collect baseline information, and to identify barriers to and facilitators for implementation.

The processes for, and status of, Guidelines implementation varied across data sets and health sectors in scope for this project.

  • In the hospitals sector (which supplies data for the National Hospital Morbidity Database and National Perinatal Data Collection), Indigenous status data are generally of high quality and additional support for Guidelines implementation is not currently required.
  • The drug treatment services sector (which supplies data for the Alcohol and Other Drugs Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set) includes a mix of government and non- government service providers. Some jurisdictions have distributed the Guidelines and undertaken activities in the sector to improve data, but there is scope for more work on implementation in the sector.
  • The mental health services sector (which supplies data for the National Residential and Community Care databases) has undergone reforms with implications for data collection. Future support for Guidelines implementation will be considered as these changes are embedded.
  • The National Diabetes Register has limited coverage of diabetes in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and Guidelines implementation is therefore not a priority at this stage.
  • Cancer registries require upstream work in the general practice sector and pathology messaging to improve identification; the project will provide support in these sectors where possible.
  • The general practice sector is notable as identification is needed for service delivery as well as for data improvements. Targeted support to the general practice sector was provided in Phase 1 of the project and will continue in the next phases of the project.

Further implementation of the Guidelines could be facilitated by:

  • recognising non-jurisdiction stakeholders as essential partners in Guidelines implementation, as the capacity of jurisdictions to implement the Guidelines varies across health sectors
  • supporting jurisdiction implementation processes; for example, by strengthening reporting mechanisms through more detailed description of Guidelines implementation activities to better monitor progress and by identifying areas in need of greater support
  • providing targeted support in selected areas to assist in the systematic implementation of the Guidelines
  • fostering national coordination in the general practice sector.