This article was originally published in March 2015.
The recent Data Resource Workshop brought together representatives from key government agencies and Life Course Centre (LCC) researchers and data experts.
The Workshop, held in Brisbane on March 10-11, covered ways to improve access and integration of government data that can be used by researchers to inform policy directed at reducing social disadvantage in Australia.
Representatives from the Department of Health, Department of Social Services, Department of Employment, Department of Human Services, Department of Education, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Australian Bureau of Statistics attended the Workshop.
Centre Director Professor Janeen Baxter pointed out the need to link data holdings to gain better insight into the multi-faceted nature of disadvantage, a social problem that is best tackled by collaborations that transcend academic disciplines and government department boundaries.
“Social disadvantage is a complex and global challenge and to date, policies to address disadvantage in Australia and the Western world have focused largely on income support.
“Our Centre is the first to bring together academic, policy, data, government and community experts into an integrated unit to systematically work together to tackle the problem.
“One of the Centre’s strengths is its role as a facilitatator of discussions around the types of projects and research approaches on the table today,” she said.
Professor Mark Western, Director of the Institute for Social Science Research and LCC Disadvantage Systems Program leader and Chief Investigator highlighted what could be achieved with integrated data.
“Ideally we’d like to see government partners and academic researchers working collaboratively to identify key common research questions that will inform policy and advance the social science of disadvantage.
“To this end, we’re working to create points of interaction between government, industry and community to transform how this research is done and put Australia at the forefront internationally,” he said.
Both academic and government representatives discussed the benefits of using existing data holdings to identify at-risk groups early.
The projects identified at the workshop will be used to test what is possible with regard to ethical and effective data linkage, and to demonstrate the research and policy value of integrating Commonwealth data to study social disadvantage.
The workshop follows on from the first LCC Data Linkage Workshopin Melbourne on October 8, 2014.