A National Approach to The Management of Multi-Jurisdictional Linked Data Projects in Australia

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Natalie Wray
Felicity Flack
Katie Irvine


The Population Health Research Network (PHRN) is an Australian data linkage infrastructure capable of securely and safely linking and integrating data collections from a wide range of sources. Australia, as a federated nation, has taken a national approach because:

  • Australia’s population is mobile and there is significant cross border service use

  • Commonwealth, state and territory government agencies collect and store their own data.

The national data linkage infrastructure enables researchers to apply for access to routinely collected and linked administrative data from the Commonwealth, six states and two territories. The application and approvals has been described by researchers as a time-consuming and administratively burdensome process.

Objectives and Approach
The primary objective of this project was to improve coordination of the application and approval processes for researchers requesting linked data from multiple jurisdictions in Australia. The approach taken was to develop a single application form/online application system (OAS) and standardise the business processes for multi-jurisdictional research applications.

The PHRN OAS was launched in 2014. All jurisdictions agreed to use the system for multi-jurisdictional linked data projects and SA NT DataLink agreed to use the system for their single-jurisdictional projects.

Each year since the PHRN OAS’s launch, both the total number of registered users and the number of submissions each year has increased. The majority of
organisations that lodge submissions are universities and medical research institutes.

There has been a significant reduction in the time taken by data linkage units to issue quotes and the time taken to achieve all approvals for multi-jurisdictional projects since the introduction of the standardised business processes.

Conclusion / Implications
This paper demonstrates that despite the challenges and complexities associated with applying for linked data from multiple jurisdictions a coordinated application and approval approach can be achieved.

Article Details

How to Cite
Wray, N., Flack, F. and Irvine, K. (2020) “A National Approach to The Management of Multi-Jurisdictional Linked Data Projects in Australia”, International Journal of Population Data Science, 5(5). doi: 10.23889/ijpds.v5i5.1573.

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