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Researchers from Deakin University have to discuss how they could better access and use more than three million gigabytes of data to improve the lives of Australians.
Minister for Human Services Senator Kim Carr visited the Deakin University Geelong Waurn Ponds campus in March to discuss how the Department of Human Services can help researchers use government data to support academic studies and build better services.
"The Department of Human Services is like no other: it looks after all Australians through every stage of life – and it makes 200 million individual payments a year through Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support,” Senator Carr said.
“From cradle to grave the Department collects a wealth of information about Australians’ interaction with social services. This information can provide significant opportunities for researchers to put hard evidence into critical national debates.
“Over the last few years we’ve provided data to Deakin University researchers that have informed studies into childhood obesity and we’re currently sourcing data for health studies into childhood anxiety disorders and osteoporosis.
“My aim is to use the information already available to strengthen research and provide robust evidence that could be used to change people’s lives.
“I want strong relationships with researchers to be at the heart of how we work, so we are better informed in the way we do business and can provide improved government services for all Australians.”
Member for Corangamite Darren Cheeseman said the closer collaboration between government and Deakin University researchers will help anticipate Geelong’s future service needs.
“My electorate of Corangamite is one of the fastest growing in Australia," he said.
"If we were able to better access government data we would have more information about what services we need and when, it will only help us build stronger communities in the future.”
Senator Carr also recently spoke with researchers from the University of Sydney about how government could work better with the research community to help achieve this goal.
“The feedback from the researchers was positive and the potential is enormous,” Senator Carr said.
“As the custodian of data collected from individuals and families, the Department is committed to maintaining its strong record on privacy.
“The closer we work with researchers on wicked problems, the better off we all are. Ultimately, this will improve the evidence base for service delivery and, in turn, the lives of Australians.”
The Department of Human Services currently delivers Centrelink services to seven million Australians, Medicare services to 22 million Australians and a million children are growing up with the assistance of child support.