Disability Services Data Collection 2016-17

What is the Disability Services Data Collection?

The Department of Social Services (DSS) provides funding to a large number of organisations who provide services to help people with disability.

The Disability Services Data Collection, (formerly known as the Disability Services Census) collects information each year from certain disability services funded by DSS:

  • supported employment services (also known as Australian Disability Enterprises)
  • advocacy services
  • respite services for carers of young people with severe or profound disabilities
  • information/referral services
  • alternative formats of communication (includes print disability services)

What information is collected?

The Disability Services Data Collection collects information about services, such as hours of operation and staffing hours. Supported employment services are also asked to provide certain information about each of their clients. Information for clients appears below, under the heading Information for Supported Employment clients.

How is the information collected?

The service outlet information is collected via an electronic review form (a PDF file) which is generated and sent by the Department's Online Funding Management System (FOFMS) – a web based system that assists in the day-to-day management of DSS’s community based programs as part of the Program Management Lifecycle. Services fill in the information on this form and submit it electronically.

Supported Employment service providers also provide information about their clients directly within FOFMS.

What do services need to know to complete the Disability Services Data Collection?

Services should refer to the Data Guide for Disability Service Providers. This data guide provides definitions, classifications, comments and justifications for each information item required for services and clients. The Disability Services Data Collection 2016-17 collects information which relates to the 2016-17 financial year.

When is the information collected?

The collection period starts on 1 July 2017. Services need to provide the required information by 21 July 2017.

Who can I contact for help?

If you need further information about or assistance to complete the Disability Services Data Collection, you can contact the Disability Services Data Collection Help Desk by phone on 1800 550 244 or email disability.census@dss.gov.au.

What is the information used for?

The services that DSS collects information on are delivered under the National Disability Agreement (NDA).

DSS is required to provide information on these services for inclusion in the Disability Services National Minimum Data Set. The purpose of this National Minimum Data Set is to:

  • collect nationally comparable data about specialist disability services funded under the Agreement
  • obtain reliable and consistent data
  • meet performance reporting requirements set down in the Agreement
  • assist in service planning and monitoring by Australian jurisdictions.

Information is published annually by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in Disability support services: services provided under the National Disability Agreement.

The data also feeds into the Report on Government Services published by the Productivity Commission.

Information for Supported Employment clients

The Department of Social Services (DSS) provides funding for Supported Employment clients under the NDA.

Facts and circumstances of collection

Each year, DSS needs to provide information about the services it provides under the NDA to the AIHW for inclusion in the Disability Services National Minimum Data Set.

Purposes of collection

DSS needs to provide some information to AIHW on Supported Employment services and the people who use these services. The information that DSS provides to AIHW about people who use Supported Employment services includes some of the information DSS receives from service providers. Inability to provide the required data would mean the failure of the Australian Government to fulfill its responsibilities under the NDA, failure to meet its commitment to Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and non-compliance with the Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision terms of reference.

How is the information collected?

When you start with a Supported Employment service, you sign a form to allow your service provider to give certain information to DSS. The form says that DSS may provide some information about you to other government departments and research bodies. When this happens, only limited information is provided, and DSS removes details that could identify you.

Your first and last names are not given to anyone else except DSS. Your name is replaced with a special code, called the statistical linkage key, so no one is able to identify you.

You can ask your Supported Employment service provider to give you a copy of what they tell DSS about you. You have the right to update or correct this information.

How do we protect your information?

Government departments must obey very strict rules contained in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and follow the Australian Privacy Principles contained within the Act. These principles tell government departments how they can collect, use and disclose your personal information.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has responsibility for regulating and providing advice on the operation of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and other privacy-related legislation. You may wish to visit the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website for further information.

The DSS Privacy Policy outlines information on the collection of personal information and the Australian Privacy Principles and can be found at the Privacy Policy page. This policy also details information on how to request access to or correction of personal information and contact details for making a privacy complaint regarding the Department.

Who can tell me more about this?

If you would like further information, first talk to your Supported Employment service provider. Alternatively, you may call DSS directly and ask for the Disability Services Data Collection Help Desk. Your service provider can give you the contact number for the Help Desk.

If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use the National Relay Service to contact any of the DSS's listed phone numbers.

The statistical linkage key

The statistical linkage key is a code that replaces a person's first name and last name to protect people's information.

The statistical linkage key has a number of important purposes. Its use enables:

  • the record of individual clients to be confidentialised
  • the identification of multiple service episodes by individual clients
  • the identification of duplicate client records
  • the number of clients to be counted at the service outlet level.

The statistical linkage key contains 14 characters that comprise:

  • the second, third and fifth letters of a person’s last name
  • second and third letters from a person’s first name
  • date of birth
  • sex code.

When the surname of a client is not long enough to supply the requested letters (i.e. a surname of less than five letters), a number ‘2’ is substituted to reflect the missing letters. The placement of a number ‘2’ corresponds to the same space that the missing letter would have within the three-digit field. The placement of a number ‘9’ is used to indicate that a name is absent. Spaces and apostrophes are not included as part of the statistical linkage key. For Asian names where the last name is written first, the last name is included in the last name field. When a client has only one legal name, then the single name is considered as the last name.

For example, if a male person’s name was John Brown, and his date of birth was 01/01/1990, the Statistical Linkage Key would be RONOH010119901.

How does the Department collect the linkage key?

For the Disability Services Data Collection 2016-17, DSS will use information stored in the Department's Online Funding Management System (FOFMS) to compile the statistical linkage key for each client. Disability service providers do not need to supply this data for the Disability Services Data Collection 2016-17.

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