Improving government data availability and use 

The Australian Government has recently released the Productivity Commission’s inquiry report on Data Availability and Use, highlighting the need for Australia to formalise its approach on the management of data, with a data framework that drives modern industry and citizenry.

In this article GWI takes you through the key points that you need to know, and how your business may be affected.

Key Issues

In response to the rapidly changing digital landscape in Australia and world wide, the report addresses issues such as:

  • The continual and alarming growth of data generation and collection
  • The use of data as one of the key drivers of new business and technologies
  • The increasingly urgent need to modernise the country’s policies and regulations in line with international efforts
  • Empowering innovation as a result of improved trust and openness.


The report recommends a set of reforms to enable transparency and confidence in data processes, treating data as an asset and not a threat.

Key recommendations include:

  • Drafting of new laws including a new Data Sharing and Release Act that would apply to all digital data
  • A National Data Custodian would oversee, guide, and monitor new access and use arrangements
  • A new Comprehensive Right for individuals and business, including;
    • Powers that allow individuals to view their data, be informed of data traded to third parties, and request edits or corrections
    • Right for individuals to have machine-readable copy of their consumer data provided to them or to a nominated third-party
  • A data sharing and release structure, which would include:
    • Data sets to be designated by the National Data Custodian as National Interest Datasets. This would include the replacement of current restrictions to access and use by new arrangements under the Data Sharing and Release Act, and would be resourced by the Commonwealth as national assets
    • Accredited Release Authorities to be established as sectoral hubs of expertise, supporting maintenance and streamlined access to National Interest Datasets and other datasets linked or shared
    • Streamlining the ethics committee approval processes to improve ease of data access.
  • Abolishing the existing requirement to destroy statistical linkage keys at the end of data research projects that likely impede on potential new insights and opportunities.

How business will be affected

The new data framework will impact both the public and private sectors and the way that organisations manage their data, including:

  • Additional measures to ensure data security and privacy are maintained, or effectively de-identified with increased exposure
  • Additional measures to track third-parties that have accessed, utilised, or been provided with user data
  • Standardisation of data (format, metadata, etc), and mechanisms to facilitate increased data sharing and data linkages
  • Allowing users to more thoroughly enquire about, access, and manage their data
  • Establishing capabilities and systems to better analyse and utilise shared data for greater insights.

 The Data Availability and Use report is available at


Dr Vanessa Douglas-Savage
Consulting Director

Andrew Rozo