Identifying disability in linked data sets

Project Details

This research project is one of five high-priority test cases conducted under the National Disability Data Asset (NDDA) Pilot. The NDDA is a new government initiative aiming to improve outcomes for people with disability, their families and carers, by linking de-identified data to better understand the life experiences and outcomes of people with disability in Australia. The NDDA has been authorised by the Prime Minister to start with an 18-month Pilot phase (the Pilot) which is intended to demonstrate the value of the asset for policy and program implementation and reporting. The Pilot started in April 2020 and is scheduled to conclude in September 2021 when the findings of the Pilot will be reported to the Disability Ministers.

This research project will focus on development of a comprehensive measure(s) of disability (including within and outside of the scope of the NDIS) based on information in existing administrative data collections, and testing the suitability of this measure to reliably report on NDS/NDIS outcomes for, and supports being accessed by people with disability, focusing on housing system.

People with disability (PwD) are not readily identifiable in many mainstream data collections; this precludes measurement of outcomes and of the performance of services under the new National Disability Strategy (NDS) Outcomes Framework. The project will involve the linkage of Commonwealth health, social services and disability data with housing and homelessness data for the four states participating in the NDDA Pilot (NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria). The project also aims to test the extent to which people with disability,

This test case will evaluate the capacity to create a comprehensive indicator of people with disability within the NDDA. The test case will address the following research questions:

  1. Can cross-system data matching provide an accurate and complete measure to identify people with disability?
  2. What proportion of people with disability receive housing-related supports?
  1. How does contact with housing supports vary across sub-cohorts of people with disability? How does contact with housing supports for people with disability compare to those without disability?
  2. How do housing systems perform for people with disability, by sub-cohort, and relative to people without disability? How can data be best structured and analysed to support insights about the performance of housing systems?
  3. Can the interaction between people with disability and the housing system be accurately captured within existing datasets? What other sources of data should be integrated into the enduring Asset, and/or what new measures should be included in existing data collections, to make NDDA a suitable data source for reporting against the National Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework?

This project relates to the first research question of the test case.  It aims to develop and test disability indicators derived using disability-relevant information contained in existing administrative data. The project will provide DSS with a methodology for deriving indicators of disability in the linked dataset, which can be implemented in the enduring NDDA. Moreover, it will provide crucial evidence on the utility of the NDDA for conducting analyses to inform policy and programs relevant to people with disability, and for reporting against the future National Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework.


Dr Zoe Aitken, University of Melbourne
Ms Lauren Krnjacki, University of Melbourne
Dr George Disney, University of Melbourne
Dr Nicola Fortune, University of Sydney 
Professor Anne Kavanagh, University of Melbourne
Professor Rebecca Bentley, University of Melbourne
Professor Andrew Beer, University of SA


Commonwealth Department of Social Services

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For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

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