Legal Responsibilities

Legal Responsibilities

Legal Responsibilities

Identifiable information is required for the linkage of data within and between data collections. In most cases the data were not obtained for research purposes and consent for the use of this data for linkage would not have been sought at the time of collection. In some cases researchers will also request identifiable information for analysis if it is essential to their research.

In both cases, the use of personal information without consent raises particular legal issues. As a researcher it is important to understand the legal framework applicable to data linkage to ensure that all legal responsibilities are met.

The data linkage process is regulated by three bodies of law:

  1. legislation empowering and regulating the collection, use or disclosure of information by government entities, such as public health statutes;
  2. the common law of duty of confidentiality; and
  3. privacy legislation. The NHMRC have developed flow charts and templates to help researchers and HRECs apply the s95 and s95A guidelines.

In addition, data linkage units, SURE, SUFEX and researchers accessing data via the PHRN infrastructure are also bound by contract and must comply with their;

  • contractual obligations relating to privacy and confidentiality.

The bodies of law that relate to your research depend on the nature of the information, whether it is identifiable at any stage of the research project and the institution, jurisdiction and data collections involved.

For further information about your legal responsibilities for your project it is recommended you seek legal advice.

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PHRN is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and has taken steps to mitigate the risk of transmission to our staff. In line with advice on social distancing, all staff at PHRN program office have moved to work from home. Staff are currently all working in line with our usual work patterns and our landline numbers are being diverted to staff at home, so will either be answered, or it will be possible to leave a voicemail. Please bear with us as we move to this new way of working. We will be participating in any meetings we need to attend remotely via Zoom. We are reviewing our work plans in light of the current situation and will make changes as required to ensure we are serving our network, researchers and community in this changing situation.

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WA Department of Health is seeking to establish a contract for the provision of an expert resource which will provide consultation to the Department of Health and the Department of Jobs, Tourism and Industry on a joint initiative. The ‘Strategic Linkage Advisor’, will provide strategic linkage advice, research, analysis, stakeholder management and inter-governmental coordination on matters relating to data linkage.