07 March 2023

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A new linked data asset that will produce insights on the outcomes of people with disability and their pathways through services is set to transform the capability of data linkage.

The Centre for Victorian Data Linkage (CVDL) is leading the Victorian implementation of the National Disability Data Asset (NDDA), which is expected to be ready to commence data onboarding and linkage by the end of the year.

The NDDA is the flagship product of the Australian National Data Integration Infrastructure (ANDII) program.

Supported by the Commonwealth Government and featuring significant consultation with the disability community, the project will lead to a major expansion in data linkage capability at a national scale.

The NDDA will include a broad range of datasets across health, human services, crime and education. It has been highlighted as an important source of information for the Australian Disability Strategy, as well as providing insights on the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Carley Northcott, Executive Director Disability Services, Policy, and Support at the Department of Health, says the role played by the disability community under the governance arrangements will be crucial to the success of the NDDA.

“Timely access to data about people with disabilities is critical for informing effective, evidence-based interventions that meet the needs of the community,” Ms Northcott said.

“It is equally important that people with disability have a say in terms of how their information is used and the priorities we focus on when designing public policy.

“The NDDA presents an exciting opportunity to collaborate with our jurisdictional counterparts and the community, as we deliver positive change for people with disability.”

Governance arrangements are expected to be finalised by mid-2023, and by 2025, it is expected that the NDDA will have reached a level of maturity whereby insights are routinely shared with a range of audiences. A knowledge sharing platform is also planned to enhance useability of the data and deliver further value to users.

Improving the model of linked data to deliver greater value

The NDDA work has been driven by cross-jurisdictional recognition that the potential uses of data linkage are being restricted due to lengthy approval processes and complex governance.

The current data linkage model in Australia involves project-by-project data custodian approvals, which attract significant transaction costs and delays to data provision. This has historically compromised the timeliness, scalability, and quality of linked data.

The ANDII and NDDA aim to overcome these challenges with a new, streamlined data governance approach under the Commonwealth Data Availability and Transparency Act (2022). This will involve jurisdictional data custodians providing approval for broad use cases of public data under the NDDA, via a Multilateral Data Sharing Agreement.

Use of data under the ANDII and NDDA will be in accordance with the Five Safes Framework, an internationally recognised model for managing data sharing risks where sensitive and personal information is involved. Under this model, it will not be possible for names and personal information to be accessed alongside content data, such as health information or criminal history.

The feasibility of the NDDA has been established through the project’s pilot phase and analyses of test case data that was supplied by Australian jurisdictions during this stage.

Victorian test case data analyses explored the connection between the use of supports and outcomes for people with disability, who experience mental illness and psychological distress. Published information about the NDDA and test case reports can be accessed via https://ndda.dss.gov.au/.

For further information about the NDAA project, please contact Toby Sherring, Principal Project Manager, CVDL, via [email protected]