What ethical and privacy processes are followed?

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Ethics Committee is required to advise on the ethical acceptability of AIHW activities involving information that can potentially identify a person. The committee has been actively involved with the National Prisoner Health Data Collection (NPHDC) since its inception.

The AIHW operates under a strict privacy regime based on section 29 of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987 and the Privacy Act 1988.

The AIHW Ethics Committee oversees the appropriate management of participant consent and risks for potential harm, as well as respectful First Nations research.

The AIHW has a range of policies, protocols and processes in place to manage confidentiality and reliability, including how data should be reported to ensure confidentiality.

The AIHW Ethics Committee gave initial ethics approval for the NPHDC project on 4 March 2008. Amendments and/or new ethics applications are submitted each survey cycle to this committee, as well as to ethics committees in states and territories, as required.

Ethics applications are also submitted to ethics committees who have an interest in ensuring research has a positive impact for First Nations people, as required.

The following committees granted additional ethics approval:

  • NSW Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC)
  • NSW Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council HREC
  • Corrective Services NSW HREC
  • NT Health and Menzies School of Health Research HREC
  • WA Research Application and Advisory Committee
  • Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies HREC.

The AIHW manages First Nations data and research in accordance with human research ethics obligations. A Deputy Secretaries Data Group Sub-committee is also overseeing the development of a Framework for the Governance of Indigenous Data. The framework is being developed in partnership with First Nations representatives. Once the framework is available, the AIHW will work to implement processes that align with its intent.

For more information on the AIHW’s ethics, privacy and confidential practices, see Privacy.