The three themes do not operate in isolation; it is expected that enhancements in each theme will enable further improvements to other themes and enhance the quality and value of the Australian statistical system. Enhancements in theme one are also expected to have benefits in increasing the utility of existing data sources, especially legislative amendments that enable agencies to collect and share information.
While most if not all organisations collect administrative data to support service provision, allocate budgets, apply for funding and track performance, often there are cost implications for adapting the data to enable the production of statistical information. The following themes can be used as a guide to inform future resourcing decisions.
Theme 1 – Improve the quality and comparability of existing data sources
Many data collections have the potential to provide important statistical information that forms part of the evidence base for family, domestic and sexual violence, if appropriate statistical infrastructure is in place. The National Statistical Service (NSS) describes statistical infrastructure as statistical standards, policies and tools that are shared to maximise the value of investment, reduce provider load and support integrated statistics. Enhancements to these areas provide the foundation for this theme, in particular actions that encourage the:
§ use of data standards and definitions that enable consistent identification of family, domestic and sexual events;
§ application of data quality assessments to encourage the production of accessible information; and
§ consideration of amendments to legislation that enable the use of data for statistical purposes.
There are a number of ways to transform existing data into statistical information. Some suggested actions are outlined in Table 3.
Theme 2 – Maximise the utility of existing sources
The existing information for family, domestic and sexual violence can be sourced from many collections including a number that are not currently publicly available. Those available provide detailed information on various aspects of family, domestic and sexual violence but there are a number of data gaps due to coverage limitations and methodological differences. Through improving data collection practices, populations of interest will become more visible in existing datasets. However sub population groups which are not accessed in traditional survey collection methods and administrative data will require targeted strategies that complement traditional methods. It is advised that identification of suitable data holdings for those in unique living circumstances (e.g. care facilities or institutions) be investigated in future work.
Theme 3 – Augment existing data sources to address priority gap areas
This evidence base has potential for considerable adaption for improved statistical use through data enhancement techniques such as augmentation, sharing and linkage. There are many options for data linkage, ranging from simple enhancements, such as the addition of small area indicators, through to more complex data matching of multiple sources. However, there are significant issues that must be addressed to make data linkages more viable. These mainly stem from privacy and data access legislative requirements, at both state and territory and Commonwealth levels. Opportunities to address these in ways which improve access while maintaining privacy should be explored further.
Additionally, the quality and comparability issues raised in theme one are important enablers that underpin the ability to achieve data matching. If these can be overcome, data linkage strategies can present an effective way to address many high priority information gaps by fully utilising existing data. These types of data linkage options need to be considered in a whole of government approach to effectively govern data and maximise cross linkage between government sectors (e.g. crime and justice, health, education).
Exploring the potential to use data sharing principles and working towards the goal of data linkage are encouraged as guiding aspirations for building the evidence base for family, domestic and sexual violence.
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