Recommendation 6.17

Integration and Data Linkage

The Australian Government should abolish its requirement to destroy linked datasets and statistical linkage keys at the completion of researchers’ data integration projects. Where an Accredited Release Authority is undertaking multiple linkage projects, it should work towards creating enduring linkage systems to increase the efficiency of linkage processes.

Data custodians should be advised as part of early implementation of this reform package to use a risk-based approach to determine how to enable ongoing use of linked datasets. The value added to original datasets by researchers should be retained and made available to other dataset users.

Government response: 

The Government agrees with this recommendation.

Principle 6 of the High Level Principles for Data Integration Involving Commonwealth Data for Statistical and Research Purposes includes that once the approved purpose of the linked project is met the related datasets can be retained where the reasons for the retention are documented.

The National Health and Medical Research Council will review its guidelines for Human Research Ethics Committee’s on the retention of data for re-use.

The interim National Data Commissioner will develop guidance for data custodians and Accredited Data Release Authorities on risk based approaches to the ongoing use of linked datasets.

Lead Agencies: National Data Commissioner, National Health and Medical Research Council