07:17am Saturday 19 October 2019

Data links build the big picture for community health and well being

New data link project a resource for building poulation health and community wellbeing

The new secure environment has been established at the University of South Australia’s City East campus to enhance the linking of routinely collected historical government health, education and community services data from SA and the NT.

Director of SA NT DataLink, UniSA’s Professor Robyn McDermott says the capacity to link this data will be of enormous importance to health and population research, future service planning and delivery and to help gauge the success of health and other programs.

“While the information will be completely anonymous and secure, access to the data and the capacity to research across the health, education, community services spectrum is enormously powerful for researchers and policy planners,” Prof McDermott said.

“It allows us to look at emerging population trends and problems in a much more sophisticated way than was possible previously. It means we can examine the relationships between location or education and health and provide a more holistic understanding of the development of our population over time and through that, devise better strategies to promote health and well being across the community.”

SA NT DataLink was established as a consortium earlier this year comprising the SA Ministers for Health, Education, Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Early Childhood Development, Families and Communities, Housing, Ageing, Disability, and Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, the Northern Territory of Australia, the Anti-Cancer Foundation of South Australia, SA’s three Universities and the Motor Accident Commission.

“SA NT DataLink is working closely with the Privacy Committee of South Australia and similarly with the authorities in the Northern Territory to develop processes and protocols to achieve world’s best practice in protecting the privacy and confidentiality of the data,” Prof Mc Dermott said.

SA Minister for Health John Hill says SA NT DataLink is an initiative that will build invaluable health and human services policy flexibility and responsiveness across the state and territory.

“The foundation of SA NT DataLink will mean researchers and policy makers can develop the most accurate and unbiased information to guide the development of the most effective public policy and practice,” Minister Hill said.

“Linked data across a whole population provides inclusive and representative information and offers more accuracy and efficiency than conventional sample-based research studies.

“This initiative, while being developed with the strongest protection for the privacy of the individual will be at the same time of benefit to all South Australians and Territorians for generations to come.”

Welcoming the partnership, NT Minister for Health, Kon Vatskalis said that the collaboration between the Northern Territory and South Australia provided a foundation for important research to inform many areas of policy and service development.

“A focus of particular interest is gaining a better understanding of the crucial influences on the development of children, which will assist governments to improve a child’s life trajectory through health, education and community services,” Minister Vatskalis said.

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