The ABS recognises data as a valuable asset that has the potential to improve the lives of Australians. Data integration (or linking) is an efficient and effective way of creating new insights from reusing existing data to address important questions about Australian society.
The ABS complies with a set of High Level Principles for all data integration activities. It has been accredited under Commonwealth arrangements to undertake data integration safely and in a manner that guarantees the privacy of Australians. All data integration project proposals go through a rigorous assessment and approval process to ensure the project provides a significant public benefit and safeguards privacy.
Australians can also be assured that their confidentiality is strongly protected by the secrecy provisions in the legislation under which the ABS operates – the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (Cth).
The combining of information from surveys, administrative collections and censuses provides a more dynamic picture to inform complex policy problems facing the Nation. Tapping into the potential of existing data sources means a more efficient and less costly alternative to surveys, reducing the burden on the public to provide data that is already available.
Data integration is increasingly being utilised in important areas such as health, education, infrastructure, innovation and the economy to:
- establish a stronger evidence base to support the key challenges facing Australians and future generations;
- inform the distribution of taxpayer dollars into programs and services for those most in need; and
- facilitate collaboration between agencies for better service provision.
ABS data integration objectives are to:
- Reuse existing data before considering new survey questions to deliver high quality statistics and to address data gaps of national significance;
- Maximise the value of public data through integration and improved access to inform the best policies and services for all Australians; and
- Build strong and mutually beneficial relationships with data custodians and decision makers to deliver quality information needed to inform better quality outcomes for Australians and future generations.
Privacy protection is of paramount importance to the ABS as a trusted public institution.
ABS is committed to upholding the privacy, confidentiality and security of the personal information it collects. Not only does the ABS have strong legislative protections which safeguard the privacy of an individual’s information, it has a proud 100-year history of maintaining community trust in the way it collects, uses, discloses and stores personal information. This reflects our culture, attitudes and practices as much as our legislative obligations and methodologies.