The ABS recognises data as a valuable asset that has the potential to improve the lives of Australians. Data integration (or linking) is an efficient and effective way of creating new insights by reusing existing data to address important questions about Australian society.
The ABS complies with a set of High Level Principles for all data integration activities. It has been accredited under Commonwealth arrangements to undertake data integration safely and in a manner that guarantees the privacy of Australians. All data integration project proposals go through a rigorous assessment and approval process to ensure the project provides a significant public benefit and safeguards privacy.
Australians can also be assured that their confidentiality is strongly protected by the secrecy provisions in the legislation under which the ABS operates — the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (Cth).
Combining information from surveys, administrative collections and censuses provides a dynamic picture that can better inform complex policy problems facing Australia. Tapping into the potential of existing data sources means a more efficient and less costly alternative to surveys, reducing the burden on the public to provide data that is already available.
Data integration is increasingly being utilised in important areas such as health, education, infrastructure, innovation and the economy to:
- establish a stronger evidence base to support the key challenges facing Australians and future generations;
- inform the distribution of taxpayer dollars into programs and services for those most in need; and
- facilitate collaboration between agencies for better service provision.
There are strong legislative protections in place to safeguard people's privacy. All data integration projects comply with the Privacy Act 1988 and the legislative requirements of both the ABS and other agencies involved. In addition, no data can be released by the ABS that is likely to allow an individual or business to be identified.