The NT data linkage study


This chapter describes the origins of the NT Data Linkage Study to investigate the early child development educational and wellbeing outcomes of all children born in the Northern Territory over the 20-year period since 1994. It briefly reviews the rapidly growing national and international literature on the use of new methods of data linkage and de-identification of unit-record data to enable whole-population studies in areas of policy and scientific research. The use of data linkage research for life course analysis is particularly helpful in documenting how children’s early-life health and social circumstances can impact their longer-term health, learning, and behavioural outcomes. The unique diversity of the Northern Territory’s geographic, cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic circumstances presents significant challenges for population-based research and the types of evidence needed to inform effective policy and services. The Northern Territory’s demographic profile differs markedly from other jurisdictions, particularly in that around 30% of the population identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders. Special care has been taken to ensure that the study design, implementation and reporting of findings are properly inclusive and respectful of Aboriginal perspectives and that the study addresses issues of particular relevance for the NT Aboriginal community. The chapter concludes with a description of the overall study objectives, its project governance arrangements, and its community and scientific advisory processes

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