The Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) collection

The Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) collection is managed and administered by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The collection consists of data provided by Specialist Homelessness Services agencies and state/territory governments.

This includes: 

  • data about the agencies participating in the collection, provided by relevant state and territory governments. This information is submitted each month to the AIHW and uploaded to Validata™  to define the scope of the collection; 
  • data about clients assisted by Specialist Homelessness Services agencies. This data is submitted monthly to Validata™  by each Service (or agency). The data includes information about the client, their circumstances, the type of assistance sought and the services provided by the agency. Agencies also provide limited information on people who requested assistance but were not assisted by the agency. 

1 For agencies based in South Australia, client and unassisted person data is initially provided by agencies to Housing SA. Housing SA then submits the collated dataset through Validata™  on behalf of all homelessness agencies. 

Details about the SHS data held by the AIHW can be found in METeOR (AIHW’s metadata online registry: The SHS data collection does not contain any direct information that identifies clients of homelessness services or unassisted people. This document describes the privacy and data security arrangements for all SHS data held by the AIHW. 

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 

The AIHW was established as a Commonwealth statutory authority in 1987. The AIHW’s governing legislation is the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987 (AIHW Act). The main functions of the AIHW are to collect, analyse and disseminate health and welfare-related information and statistics. 

The health and welfare information held by the AIHW is managed in accordance with legal and ethical obligations for privacy, confidentiality and objectivity. The provisions of the Privacy Act 1988, including the Information Privacy Principles, establish the framework for the collection, storage, use and release of all personal information in the public sector. AIHW practices comply with the requirements of the Privacy Act. 

The confidentiality provisions of the AIHW Act prevent release of any information that may identify an individual. The same confidentiality obligations apply to recipients of data released by the AIHW (e.g. with the approval of the Ethics Committee). All AIHW staff, as a condition of their employment, sign a Confidentiality Undertaking

Access to data held in Validata™ 

Full SHS (client, unassisted person and agency) data submitted via the Validata™  web portal can only be accessed by authorised AIHW staff. 

Authorised staff of agencies have access to client and unassisted person data submitted by their own agency. 

Authorised staff of state/territory governments are able to view full data about specialist homelessness agencies submitted by their jurisdiction, but can only access aggregate data about clients and unassisted people submitted to Validata™  by these agencies. 

Data security relating to Validata™ 

Validata™ has many measures in place to ensure the security of the data submitted to the SHS Collection. The data is de-identified (it does not contain client names or addresses) and the AIHW is legally mandated to protect both the privacy and the security of the data it holds. For more information refer to the AIHW Privacy policy.

Users of Validata™ are carefully monitored. Users have a unique user ID, unique email address, and must maintain a personal password. They can only access information about the organisations for which they have been assigned a role by their organisation’s manager (‘User Admin’).

The databases associated with this project are maintained in a secured partition on the AIHW’s server infrastructure. Only authorised AIHW staff have access to the databases using unique usernames and passwords. All access to the databases is monitored and logged by AIHW ICT staff. 

All AIHW IT infrastructure associated with this project is maintained in a secure ICT environment which meets or exceeds the AIHW defined IT Security Protocols. 

This includes: 

  • use of an Australian Government approved secure gateway provider 
  • a dedicated physical environment providing isolation of the systems 
  • controlled physical access to these systems via passcode and passcard for authorised AIHW staff only 
  • automated monitoring of system access and performance
  • automated monitoring and logging of intrusion attempts. 

All Validata™  users (i.e. AIHW, state/territory government staff and agency staff) have a unique username and password identifying the type and level of access to the systems. All access to the system is logged and monitored. Each data submission is also logged and stored. Data backups are maintained and stored offsite using approved Australian Government data storage providers.