Cooperation and Innovation in Data Linkage Creates A Linked, Multi-Sectoral Data Repository for Western Australia – The SIDR Project

Main Article Content

Anna Ferrante
Tom Eitelhuber
Max Maller
Sean Randall
Adrian Brown
David Pedrotti
James Boyd
Kurt Sibma


During 2019, the Western Australian (WA) government and Curtin University’s Centre for Data Linkage (CDL) created a large, de-identified researchable database – the Social Investment Data Resource (SIDR) – to support government in delivering targeted early interventions to young offenders and their families to reduce the likelihood of re-offending (the Target 120 program).

Objectives and Approach
SIDR brings together administrative data from health, education, justice, child protection, disability and housing sectors. The linked, de-identified data provides an invaluable resource for actuarial assessment and social investment analytics to assess long-term costs and benefits of the Target 120 program. SIDR also provides an invaluable tool for academic research. SIDR adopted a distributed linkage model where linkage workload was shared between the Department of Health Data Linkage Branch who create and maintain the WA Data Linkage System (WADLS) and the CDL. Design elements of the model included a common spine (embedded into the infrastructure of both groups), methods for leveraging quality from WADLS, and inclusion of family relationships data from the WA Family Connections database. The linkage model within SIDR uses a combination of traditional and privacy-preserving record linkage (PPRL) methods. PPRL does not require release of personal identifiers; instead, data is irreversibly hashed prior to release for probabilistic linkage.

Through cooperation (distributed linkage) and innovation (a mix of traditional and PPRL linkage), the project has delivered a large, linked, cross-sectoral data resource for policymakers and researchers. Sharing of the linkage workload maximised the capacity and unique capabilities of each linkage unit. PPRL enabled ‘hard to get’ datasets from justice to be included. SIDR is being updated in 2020.

Conclusion / Implications
SIDR provides a resource for whole-of-government policy development, service evaluation, academic research and social investment analytics for T120 and beyond. The SIDR linkage model has potential for adaptation and use elsewhere.

Article Details

How to Cite
Ferrante, A., Eitelhuber, T., Maller, M., Randall, S., Brown, A., Pedrotti, D., Boyd, J. and Sibma, K. (2020) “Cooperation and Innovation in Data Linkage Creates A Linked, Multi-Sectoral Data Repository for Western Australia – The SIDR Project”, International Journal of Population Data Science, 5(5). doi: 10.23889/ijpds.v5i5.1490.

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