About Us

Purpose

The Population Health Research Network (PHRN) has been established to build a nationwide data linkage infrastructure capable of securely and safely managing health information from around Australia.

Data linkage - the method by which information about people, places and events from different data collections is brought together - has been successfully operating in parts of Australia since the mid -1990's. With the establishment of the PHRN, data linkage units and managing nodes now operate across every state and territory in Australia, allowing population health research to be carried out more thoroughly and more effectively.

The PHRN is a national network coordinated by the Program Office  located in Perth, Western Australia and comprising a network of Project Participants and Data Linkage Units located in each Australian state/territory.

The work of the PHRN will greatly improve the way linkable health and health related data is made available to approved researchers. This innovative and unique collaboration, builds on the success of well established data linkage units in WA and NSW/ACT. It will greatly enhance Australia's ability to research, analyse and monitor health trends and health needs. With the ability to provide large sample groups, the PHRN will assist a greater whole-of-population approach to health and health related research.

The PHRN is developing and testing leading-edge technology to ensure the safe and secure linking of data collections whilst working to protect peoples' identity and privacy. The PHRN is also developing mechanisms for the secure exchange of linkable data between those who hold the data collections (Data Custodians) and the researchers who receive approval to analyse the linked data. The PHRN data linkage units do not conduct their own health or health related research.

Governance

The University of Western Australia is the Lead Agent for the PHRN. It has overall responsibility for the PHRN in accordance with the reporting and accountability requirements outlined in Funding Agreements. The PHRN is governed by a Board which provides oversight and strategic direction.  The PHRN Board receives advice from the PHRN Participant Council  which includes members from each of the PHRN Project Participants.

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Funding

The PHRN commenced operations in 2009 with a $20 million allocation of funds from the Australian Government's National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) program. This initial funding covered a four year period from 2008-09 to 2011-12 inclusive. Subsequently, the PHRN received further funding from the Australian Government’s national research infrastructure programs, with cash contributions totalling over $42million in in the periods 2008-09 to 2015-16 inclusive.

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Purpose
The Population Health Research Network (PHRN) has been established to build a nationwide data linkage infrastructure capable of securely and safely managing health information from around Australia.

Data linkage - the method by which information about people, places and events from different data collections is brought together - has been successfully operating in parts of Australia since the mid -1990's. With the establishment of the PHRN, data linkage units and managing nodes have been set up in every state and territory in Australia, allowing population health research to be carried out more thoroughly and more effectively.

The work of the PHRN will greatly improve the way health and related data is made available to approved researchers. This innovative collaboration between every state and territory in Australia will allow population health research on a scale not previously possible in this country. With the ability to provide larger cohorts and larger sample groups, the PHRN will be assisting a greater whole-of-population approach to health related research.

The PHRN is developing and testing leading-edge technology to ensure the safe and secure linking of data collections whilst working to protect the identity and privacy of individuals. Whilst the PHRN does not collect or hold personal health information, it fulfils the role of trustworthy conduit between those who do hold the data collections (Data Custodians) and the researchers who receive approval to analyse it.

Funding
The Population Health Research Network has received a $20 million allocation from the Australian Government's National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) program. The original funding period runs from 2008-09 to 2010-11. The Australian Government announced a further $10 million for the Population Health Research Network in the May 2009 budget.
The allocation is sourced from the Education Investment Fund. The additional funding will enable further enhancement of the infrastructure developed through the NCRIS program in 2011-12 and 2012-13. In addition, state and territory governments and academic partners are contributing $32 million in cash and in-kind contributions to the Population Health Research Network in the 2008-09 to 2010-11 period.
NCRIS funding for the PHRN continues under current arrangements until June 2012. The National Program Office is currently coordinating a significant investment application for continued funding until June 2013 under the Australian Government's Education Investment Fund (EIF). Continued funding under the next NCRIS Roadmap is also being investigated for 2013 and beyond. Income via cost recovery data linkage projects is also a key part of the PHRN's sustainability strategy.
Governance
The Population Health Research Network is governed by a Management Council and comprises a National Program Office hosted by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Western Australia, a Centre for Data Linkage (link to cdl page) based at Curtin University in Western Australia and five state/territory participating nodes. ( link to participant page and data linkage units page).