How we use data

Australia's data is an important national asset which can be used to inform policy development, improve service delivery and evaluate government programs.

Effective use of government data can support innovation and contribute to Australia’s economic growth and social wellbeing. Sharing government data can also help to create a fairer and safer society for everyone.

Summary

The Data Availability and Transparency legislative reforms will modernise and streamline data sharing arrangements within government and with accredited users.

Under the legislation, data will only be shared where it will benefit the Australian community, for three purposes:

  1. Government services delivery – more convenient access to the information and services people need.
  2. Government policy and programs – planning for the future based on the best available information.
  3. Research and development – to guide the country’s academics, scientists and innovators to make our economy, environment and society healthier into the future.
Improving government services

Every day millions of Australians rely on services delivered by the Australian Government. These services are underpinned by the government’s ability to share and use government data.

Now, more than ever, Australians expect Government services to be simple, seamless, and secure.

That is why the Data Availability and Transparency legislative reforms are so important. The reforms will modernise how government shares and uses data, putting Australians at the centre of service delivery.

Data can be used to pre-fill forms, reduce waiting times by ensuring that people are directed to the right access point, and improve services so that the public is receiving the best outcomes, support and information.

Case study

Government services can be made simpler; often people need to provide the same information multiple times to different departments and agencies to access similar services.

Right now to apply for the Disability Support Pension through the Department of Human Services (DHS) and for support services through the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), they must supply almost the same information, including medical evidence, to both DHS and the NDIA separately.

The new legislation would enable ‘tell us once’ type service improvements - so rather than having to give multiple areas of government the same, you could just tell us once.

Improving policy and programs

Public policy delivers solutions to challenges facing our society and it’s important that these problems are solved using the best available data.

Government data can inform policy and programs in many areas such as regional development, drought relief, and the location of important services like schools, transport links and healthcare facilities.

Better data sharing will help the Australian Government deliver more improved policies and programs that achieve results.

Case study

The National Drought Map is an example of good sharing of government data from across many areas of government.

The map pulls numerous pieces of government held information from across different agencies and visually displays information relevant to a particular area. It includes rainfall patterns, soil moisture, agricultural types and employment by industries, but also useful information for users on drought conditions and support measures available in the area.

This information helps farmers, their families and their communities find out what government services and supports are available to help them manage during times of drought and prepare for the future.

The new legislation would help agencies bring together the information you need in more accessible ways, like the National Drought Map.

Supporting research and development

Government data can be used to help researchers find the solutions to Australia’s current and future problems. Government data can help researchers improve health outcomes, create frost tolerant crops or improve traffic flow in cities. 

The private sector is responsible for driving some of the greatest innovations and lifesaving medical breakthroughs of our time. Sharing data with organisations in the research and innovation space will support new ideas and help create a better society for everyone.

This would only be allowed if it is safe and secure, and where there is benefit to the Australian public.

Case study

Researcher Professor Fiona Stanley and colleagues used government health data to discover taking folate during pregnancy can significantly reduce the likelihood of neural tube defects, which lead to birth defects, including spina bifida.

Her research was key to the Department of Health requiring folic acid and iodine to be added to bread.

Improved access to government data for the private sector will support new ideas, stimulate economic growth and help create a better society for everyone.