TRUST IN ABS AND ABS STATISTICS SURVEY, 2015
More specifically, feedback from focus group testing indicated a general level of support for retaining names and addresses from the 2016 Census for the purpose of data integration in the public benefit. There was strong community support for high quality data linkage, and acknowledgement that retaining name and address information was important to achieving high quality linked datasets. The majority of people felt that the use of anonymised names struck an appropriate balance between improving the quality of statistical information and safeguarding privacy. In cases where the linked datasets had not utilised an anonymised name linkage key, and therefore had a lower rate of successful linkages (60% – 70%), participants expressed concern about the quality and usefulness of the data and in particular the quality of decisions based on poor quality data.
In working through examples, focus groups were generally comfortable with existing and proposed ABS protections to preserve privacy and confidentiality but emphasised the importance of the ABS being transparent about how it handles people’s personal information and that the appropriate security practices were in place.
2014 Report Colmar Brunton.pdf
FOCUS GROUP STUDY, 2011
In March and April, 2011, eleven focus groups were conducted in both city and regional areas of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia to canvass community views on data integration for statistical and research purposes. The main purpose of these focus groups was to assess public awareness and acceptance of statistical data integration.
A cross-section of the community was represented in the focus groups, including people of different gender, age, ethnicity, occupation and educational attainment. Each group comprised six to nine people and the group discussion lasted about two hours. Each group was told about the concept of data integration, given examples to demonstrate the benefits of data integration, and told about the ways in which their personal information is protected. Participants were also asked to comment specifically on ABS involvement in data integration. Reactions and issues were discussed progressively as new information was presented to the group.
Historically, the public have had a high degree of trust in the ABS to produce high quality statistics and maintain the confidentiality of data providers. The feedback from these focus groups reflected that trust. Participants stated that:
'Everybody knows it [the ABS]'
'It does have proper controls'
'I have little knowledge...but it does have a good reputation'
'It is seen as professional'
'It is non-political'
'They are good at what they do...have a good track record'
'It is reputable'
In addition to a high level of trust in the ABS generally, there was greater confidence in the development of statistical data integration work if the ABS was a leader in its development. This was a common finding across all the groups. Furthermore, some participants pointed out that it was a “natural progression” and “bound to happen” and that, as the national statistical agency, the ABS is expected to have a central role in developing statistical data integration methods. For the ABS (compared with other government agencies), data collection and analysis was seen as its core business or “job”.
The risks associated with statistical data integration were discussed by the focus groups, and the High Level Principles for data integration involving Commonwealth data for statistical and research purposes were seen as being strong protection against these risks. As a recognised leader in data collection and dissemination, participants felt that the ABS could face potential harm to its strong reputation and level of provider trust if integrating authorities (including agencies other than the ABS) made errors or failed to protect confidentiality in relation to linked data. The ABS was seen as largely responsible for the good conduct of statistical data integration projects, in a leadership role across Commonwealth government agencies.
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Understanding community attitudes towards data integration