SA-NT DataLink
Supporting health, social and economic research, education and policy in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Privacy Protecting Model

Operating under the lawful release of data for research and analysis through the Privacy Act, 1988 (Cth) or other legislation, SA NT DataLink provides a statistical data linkage service to enable research and policy analysis using de-identified data from multiple databases. The privacy protecting model is build on information security and confidentiality to provide ethically approved researchers safe and secure access to specifically approved data.

Instead of researchers having access to individual's personal details, the application of the separation principle by SA NT DataLink increases privacy protection and confidentiality of researchable data.

SA NT DataLink have a short YouTube video explaining the privacy protecting model and the application of the Separation Principle for one of its supported projects.

Please refer to SA NT DataLink's committment to Privacy and Security.

The Separation Principle

SA NT DataLink use the Separation Principle that was pioneered in the 1980s by Michael Hobbs. Prof. Hobbs was based in UWA and worked with Fiona Stanley and the WA Dept of Health.

This principle restricts the use of identified data for the creating of privacy protecting project specific linkage keys that enables each of the Data Custodians to release anonymised data to the Researcher. As illustrated in the diagram below, only the Data Custodian has access to both the Personal Identifiers and the Content Data, SA NT DataLink only has access to the Personal Identifiers with the the Researcher using the de-identified data for their research study.



The following two seminal journal articles describe the Western Australian pioneered 'privacy preserving' data linkage system:

“Research use of linked health data - a best practice protocol”   Aust N Z J Public Health 2002;26(3):251-5.

“Population-based linkage of health records in Western Australia: development of a health services research linked database.” Aust N Z J Public Health. 1999 Oct;23(5):453-9


SA NT DataLink's privacy protection protocols and processes have been developed in cooperation with the Privacy Committee of South Australia  and theNorthern Territory Information (Privacy) Commissioner.


Independent Ethical Review and the approval by an Ethics committee provides legal approval for data linkage projects, and is best practice for the access and use of people's data for research.

In accordance with Section 95 of the Privacy Act, 1988 (Cth) an NHMRC accredited Human Research Ethics Committees have legal authority and responsibility to assessing and approving the access and use of people's personal information for research. SA NT DataLink support the de-identification of data for approved use.

For more information please refer National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) ethics.

For an overview of SA NT DataLink's Information Security practices please refer to Overview - Security Manual