Value of Data Integration and Security

Value of Data Integration and ABS Protection of Information

The role of the Australian Bureau of Statistics
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) informs Australia’s important decisions by partnering and innovating to deliver relevant, trusted, objective data, statistics and insights. The ABS is the central statistical authority for the Australian Government and provider of statistical services to the states and territories.

The ABS produces and assists in the production and provision of key statistics to governments, business and the community on economic, social and environmental matters, for the benefit of all Australians. It also has an important role in maximising the value of public data for statistical purposes.

Creating Public Value
Data integration (or linked data) brings existing information together to create new datasets, for the benefit of the Australian community. This is an efficient and effective way of creating new insights about communities, families, industry and the economy. By reusing existing data, there is a reduced burden on households and businesses.

Linked data can be used to detect patterns and trends among groups of people in the community to provide insights into the effectiveness of government policies, programs and services. For example, linked data can help improve Australians’ lives by enabling better targeting of government services, such as specialised health and education, to the people who need them.

Image right: Public data is linked by the ABS data and analysed to produce statistics on economic, social and environmental matters, then statistics are delivered to business, government and community stakeholders.

Image: Infographic - Public and ABS data is analysed and provided to stakeholders

Image: Infographic - Displays ABS data security toolsKeeping information secure
The ABS has a number of safeguards in place to protect the data it holds. These include:
  • Strong IT security arrangements that conform with the Australian Government Information Security Manual
  • Strict control of access to all ABS premises in accordance with the Commonwealth Protective Security Manual
  • Personnel security arrangements, including security checks for all ABS staff and a requirement to sign an Undertaking of Fidelity and Secrecy under the Census and Statistics Act 1905
  • A secured internet gateway reviewed annually by the Australian Signals Directorate
  • Regular protective security risk reviews
  • An ongoing program of security audits
  • Staff only have access to limited data that they need for their work.

Image left: ABS data security system comprises security checks, risk reviews, access controls, security audits, a secured internet gateway and IT security.

Linking Data
All projects go through a rigorous assessment and approval process to ensure they have a clear benefit to the Australian community.

Data linking activities in the ABS that use personal information are conducted within a dedicated and secure data linking facility.

Consistent with international best practice, the staff members undertaking a linkage project cannot see all of your information together at any point of the data linking process. This is called the Separation Principle, which requires that personal information (e.g. name, address, date of birth) and analytical information (e.g. occupation, income, health services use) is kept separate at all times. Once datasets have been linked, any identifying information, such as name or address, does not form part of the linked dataset.

Privacy and Confidentiality of Information
The ABS respects the privacy of individuals and protects the confidentiality of their information by operating under the Census and Statistics Act 1905, and the Privacy Act 1988.

This legislation includes strong obligations to maintain the secrecy of information collected. This is a responsibility the ABS takes very seriously.

All ABS officers sign a secrecy and fidelity undertaking, legally binding them to never release information collected under the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Penalties include fines of up to $25,200 or imprisonment for up to two years, or both, for anybody convicted of breaching this obligation. As an Australian Government agency, the ABS also handles personal information in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles. As an Accredited Integrating Authority, the ABS abides by the High Level Principles for Data Integration Involving Commonwealth Data for Statistical and Research Purposes.

Data linked by the ABS may only be used for statistical and research purposes that provide a significant benefit to the community.

If you want to learn more about how we collect and use your information, please see

Image right: Data from various sources is collected/given to ABS, anonymisation and linkage process undertaken, analytical confidentialised files created, authorised users analyse linked confidentialised information, and data is used for statistical and research purposes.
Image: Infographic - Process to collect, de-identify, anaylyse and use data