In the light of changes to the ways in which community services in Australia are structured and delivered and the need for more reliable and comparable data about their provision, there have been significant moves in recent years towards developing key national information issues and priorities in regard to community services.

A National Community Services Information Agreement, signed by the Commonwealth, State and Territory community services authorities (excluding Western Australia), the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), came into effect in March 1997. It covered aged care, disability services, children’s services, child protection services, juvenile justice and emergency relief services (AIHW 1997).