Information channels are mechanisms by which the ABS is able to deliver information to the information users. The key channels are:

  • ABS website (e.g. via the AHS portal or more general ABS Health portal);
  • Other websites (e.g. shared content across domestic and international websites);
  • Publications (e.g. magazines, journals, specialist publications);
  • People (e.g. media spokespersons, presenters, meeting and briefing, workshops);
  • Data access tools (e.g. Survey Table Builder, CURFs); and
  • Partnership arrangements (subject to ABS legislative requirements).

The ABS website will be the point where users of AHS data will be most active. The website will provide multiple navigation paths to data and information from and about the survey. Information users will want to access the AHS from multiple perspectives (e.g. by a focus on a particular issue or combination of issues, from a historical comparison perspective or from a geographical or population group perspective). The navigation mechanisms need to anticipate these uses and provide a path to the information products that support these questions.

The ABS website will be a repository for the various information products, exposing them to the users in an interactive and linked manner. The website will seek to utilise data visualisation tools, HTML based ‘publication’ production, and downloadable data tables.

While the ABS website will be the primary data access point, other websites may be used to link potential users to the survey, provide some further analysis of the survey outputs or compare and contrast AHS data with other health data sets available domestically or internationally. Examples of this type of work might be links between key policy initiatives by DoHA and the AHS held on the DoHA website, or further analysis undertaken of the AHS in Australia’s Health publications by AIHW where AHS links are made or data displayed. In an international setting OECD or WHO might use AHS risk factor data in their OECD.Stat (read as OECD ‘dot’ Stat) interactive data base, or the WHO Global Data Repository.

Communicating the data from the AHS will take place in many forms, however the traditional approach which meets a significant proportion of user needs is the use of publications. The term publication used here is a broad definition to represent formats from printed book-like outputs, through downloadable PDFs, to web based HTML based publications designed as single or multi page outputs. It is effectively a formalised release of data, which can be catalogued in some form and used as a reference point for other publications. These releases will be designed to meet the needs of a range of information users and will reflect the depth of analysis as described in the information products section.

People in the form of ABS staff, Survey Reference Group members, key stakeholders and selected consultants will be involved in actively promoting the outputs from the AHS. Using the expertise of these people will allow information about the survey to be communicated through or support a range of different information products. This approach will need to be supported by training and exposure to the information products, which will be arranged in part by the ABS. This may include formal training sessions around the ABS website, or use of the data access tools, or could be a discussion around the methodological issues. People will be used to present materials to the media, be a spokesperson at briefings and meetings with information users, conduct training at workshops and be a speaker at seminars and conferences. These spokespersons may be supported through materials such as media releases, training notes and slides, and downloadable video/audio presentations.

A critical channel for information users will be data access tools. This channel provides access to a number of products to meet the demand for low level data (i.e. population, geography, response categories) that can meet the needs of researchers and specialised data users. This channel will be managed by the ABS using a range of access protocols that users will need to accept in order to use these data. These protocols relate to issues such as confidentiality, storage and access arrangements, responsibilities for the data and acknowledgements. These tools may be in the form of Basic Confidentialised Unit Record Files on CD-ROM, Survey Table Builder and Census Table Builder, the ABS Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) and the ABS on-site Data Laboratory (ABSDL). This channel will be one where users will be required to pay for their access, however there are pre-existing agreements in place for several agencies, while the university sector pays for access to these products and services through its peak body, with individual researchers not required to pay for use.

Partnerships will be an important part of the AHS output strategy. The ABS is committed to developing partnerships with key researchers and agencies to produce joint analytical outputs from the survey. Details about how these partnerships will be facilitated within the ABS’ legislative and procedural frameworks are still being finalised. These partnerships may take a range of formats to meet the type of output required. The formats being considered are partnerships in:
  • building survey support information (both qualitative and quantitative) and delivering this information to users;
  • defining analytical priorities and defining output specifications, table structures and information products;
  • where it meets ABS legislative requirements, undertaking joint in-depth analytical work on issues highlighted in the initial basic analysis releases;
  • identifying work program priorities and defining roles in which each organisation might focus; and
  • working on peer review of analyses where ABS does not have extensive expertise.
The key strategies in information channels are:
  • utilise existing ABS web based infrastructure and develop new interfaces for information access;
  • negotiate on a case by case basis the lodgement of AHS data on external websites and encourage linkages to the AHS website;
  • drive a continual engagement around the AHS data with information users through briefings, workshops and presentations;
  • facilitate timely and easy access to online data tools for accessing unit record data, supported by quality web based documentation; and
  • identify potential partners for selected parts of the work program. Identify how best to work with these partners (within legislative and policy parameters) and engage their expertise and capacity to advance the analysis and support of the AHS.