Our Data Strategy


On this page

Message from the Secretary

Australia’s ability to remain competitive in the digital economy is dependent upon our capability to harness the value of data. Data is fundamental to how we prepare for the future, gain knowledge and make insightful and informed decisions. The use and sharing of data can help us understand what people need and how we can make Australia a more prosperous and thriving place to live. 

Our department has a responsibility to help Australians find and keep employment and work in safe, fair and productive workplaces. We collect unique data about small businesses, workplaces, job seekers and employers and have a responsibility to ensure that the data we hold is safe and secure, while leveraging the value of that data to help inform and benefit Australians. 

Everyone in the department has a role to play in ensuring that we deliver public value from our data. We all use, collect and manage data in some way. Our Data Strategy will support you to enhance your work and deliver on business goals. 

I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the development of our Data Strategy. We are well positioned as a department to take advantage of our data to open up new and innovative opportunities for Australia, and I look forward to sharing the journey with you. 

Kerri Hartland

Message from the Data Champion

Data Champion Marsha MilikenWe all value information in our work and personal lives.

Good data management and strong governance is vital to maximising the use of data to inform research, policy and program delivery as well as the leadership and management of our own department. We aim to continually improve the way we use data to seek better outcomes.

The development of the Data Strategy signals our commitment to align with whole of government reforms to the data landscape and to actively work towards data being open by default. We want our culture to be one which recognises the ‘responsibility to share’ in a safe way and seizes the opportunities brought by diversity of thinking about data to ultimately benefit all of Australian society.

With the Data Strategy, we are building on our current capability and enhancing how we use data now and into the future. We work hard to make the best use of our data, and we want to improve on our current position, to be forward thinking, agile and proactive to deliver on our departmental vision.

The Data Strategy sets out our path for the next two years to achieve our goals. We want to harness the power of our data, communicate insights drawn from our data and grow our data capability while upholding high standards of privacy and security.
The initiatives emerging from the development of the Data Strategy will touch on the work of everyone in the department. The key to making the Data Strategy work is collaboration, and I encourage all staff to take part in contributing to the success of the strategy and its practical initiatives to equip staff to make better use of our data assets.

Marsha Miliken
Data Champion

Purpose - our strategy will:

Deliver on our purpose and prepare for the future We deliver policies and programs that foster safe, fair and productive workplaces, and we assist job seekers to find work and small businesses to grow. We work with external partners including employers, service providers and other departments to meet our business aims. We need a data strategy to leverage the data we use and insights we learn from that data to better achieve our purpose and to prepare for the future.
Build our understanding of different data assets We collect unique data that provides insight on Australian job seekers, Australian workplaces, small businesses and other key parts of our economy, as well as about our staff and how we work. We have a duty to ensure that the Australian public is getting value from our data. We need to understand our data and how it can be built upon in ethical ways to maximise its value.
Highlight data as an enabler and an evidence base Our data is an enabler for everything that we do: delivering our programs, developing policy, conducting research, ensuring the effectiveness and compliance of those we work with, and operating as a department. It is our evidence base for advice and evaluation: it helps us know whether what we do is working.
Enhance trust in the way we use data Effective use of data is integral to the efficient functioning of the modern economy. There is increasing acceptance across whole of government that we cannot realise the benefits of the data we hold without gaining social licence from stakeholders and the community to utilise that data for community-wide benefit while protecting their data from misuse and unauthorised access.
We need to clearly communicate how we use our data and the data of other government agencies to lawfully, ethically and securely gain insights that can benefit the Australian community through policy and program improvements and overall efficiency gains.
Build on strengths In many areas across the department we have strong capability and processes in place to acquire and use data effectively and respectfully. This strategy is about building on current practices in some areas and increasing capabilities across the whole department. It is the plan for us to know how to get the most value from our data now and into the future.

Our data vision and data aspirations

Our data vision

To improve the way we capture, manage and use data to pursue our departmental vision of more jobs, great workplaces.

Our data aspirations

  • We will have a culture of consistently using data and using innovative analysis of data to seek out better outcomes.
  • We will partner with others to use data to inform the way we design and deliver policies and programs.
  • We will develop new ways to collect and make better use of data.
  • We will maintain the resources and capability to keep the data we hold safe.
  • We will meet the community’s expectations with what data we share and how it should be used.

Data Strategy on a page

Data Strategy on a page

A diagram that summarises the contents of the strategy. The centre of the diagram is a dark green box that says ‘Our Data Strategy’. Larger rectangular boxes of different colours overlap the corners of the box and describe each of the four strategic aims – Harness Our Data, Grow Our Capability, Protect Our Data and Communicate Data Insights. Each aim has an icon to represent its intent and the boxes are different colours.

Harness Our Data is within an orange box and the icon is a computer monitor displaying a line chart with two data series. Grow Our Capability is within a green box and the icon is a seedling with three leaves in front of a cloud. Protect Our Data is within a light blue box and the icon is a computer monitor displaying a padlock. Communicate Data Insights is within a darker blue box and the icon is two overlapping speech bubbles.

The text within each box matches the headings for each detailed strategic aim listed on pages 8 to 11 of the strategy.

Alignment with other strategies

A diagram that visually depicts how the other departmental strategies intersect with the data strategy. The Data Strategy sits within a geometric arc shape, split into four segments.

A diagram that visually depicts how the other departmental strategies intersect with the data strategy. The Data Strategy sits within a geometric arc shape, split into four segments.

The bottom left segment of the arc contains a small logo with a ‘Plan’ label. The logo matches the diagram that makes up the Strategic Plan. A text callout pointing to the Plan segment says ‘Our strategic plan overall, how data enables it’.

The top left segment of the arc contains a small logo with a ‘People’ label. The logo matches the diagram from the People Strategy on a page. A text callout pointing to the People segment says ‘Data literacy, workforce planning, software learning and development’.

The top right segment of the arc contains a small logo with an ‘IT’ label. The logo matches the diagram from the IT Strategic Plan. A text callout pointing to the IT segment says ‘Digital literacy, data development, analytical software access and support’.

The bottom right segment of the arc contains a small logo with an ‘IMT’ label. The logo matches the diagram from the Information Management Strategy. A text callout pointing to the IMT segment says ‘Storage, re-use and disposal standards’.

The Data Strategy uses the Australian Government's definition of data: Data means facts, statistics, instructions, concepts, or other information in a form that is capable of being communicated, analysed, or processed (whether by an individual or by other means including a computer, electronic, and automated means).

Harness our data 

We harness our data to develop meaningful and compelling cases and improve our services for the benefit of all parties. 


Adopt a holistic approach in our acquisition of data We will develop a consistent set of guiding principles to consider the full lifecycle of data when designing and developing new data assets. These will draw from the existing rules and processes in place across the department.
We will use data drawn from other sources to enhance the value of our existing data assets.
Ensure our data is high quality with well-developed supporting documentation  We will target data assets where supporting documentation will drive significant improvements to our understanding of the data and how to utilise it.
We will target data assets where we could collaborate with other organisations to improve the quality and useability of the data we are collecting. 
Identify and release our open data  We will develop department-wide guidance so that we can confidently release our open data by default.

What success looks like 

  • We use our data as a reliable source of evidence to guide decision-making. 
  • We use our understanding of our data to link it to new data sources to deliver new insights and improve our program delivery. 
  • Our data is easily accessible and re-useable, leaving more time to explore and learn new insights. 
  • We use our data and data from other sources to build evidence. 
  • More stakeholders use our open data to the benefit of Australian society. 
  • We can interpret and act on the insights we gather from our data. 

Planned initiatives

  • Identify and capture metadata for valuable assets 
  • Develop a protocol for new data asset design 
  • Launch a data hub and improve access to data 
  • Build a data analytics platform roadmap

Grow our capability 

We grow our data and technological capability to better gain insights from our data.


Ensure staff strengthen their capability to use our data well

We will help our staff learn how to draw value from data to improve the outcomes of their work.

We will support specialised staff to ensure they are given the opportunity to further develop their data skills.

We will bring like minded people together so that they can learn from each other.

Use appropriate tools to gain insights from our data 

We will help our staff gain access to the best tools and infrastructure they need to leverage the most value from our data.

Use emerging forms of data-driven technology

We will seek out technology to enhance how we transform and interpret the data we acquire.

We will explore and act on insights from experiments with emerging forms of data-driven technology.

We will offer our data to external partners to pilot new technology so that we can learn from and build on their experiences.

What success looks like 

  • Our staff see themselves as data users.
  • We utilise the full capabilities of our specialist staff.
  • We make the most of our data capabilities because we are using the best tools to match our skill sets.
  • We collaborate to pilot new technology to drive efficiencies and retain data integrity, with operationalisation in mind.
  • Our informal networks extend to other departments, where we learn from each other’s failures and share in successes.

Planned initiatives

  • Develop learning and development opportunities for different capability levels.
  • Develop communities of practice to encourage collaboration within the department and across the APS.

Protect our data 

We maintain safeguards so we are accountable for how we ethically use data and protect it from misuse.


Improve how we manage and share data We will set the right foundation to confidently engage in data sharing activities that will maintain information security and protect personal privacy.
We will have the policies, protocols and data sharing agreements to manage and use data consistently and ethically.
Share our public value data while protecting privacy We will provide safe environments for our staff and external partners to access and ethically use the data assets we hold to leverage their value.
We will meet community expectations in managing the data they share with us.

What success looks like 

  • We have the ability to safely and ethically access new data sources by drawing on our well understood, risk-appropriate processes.
  • The public trusts in our understanding of our legal and ethical obligations to them, and our commitment to communicate with them about what data we hold and how it is being used.

Planned initiatives

  • Develop data sharing and release policies and data sharing agreement protocols.

Communicate data insights 

We interpret and communicate the insights gained from our valuable data to improve our business.


Communicate and apply insights we gain from our data to improve our work We will create more avenues for staff to engage in the data analysis work we are doing to answer policy questions and to inform program management.
We will promote two-way communication between data teams and policy areas to ensure data is relevant to business outcomes and business areas understand and use data insights.
We will promote two-way communication between data teams and program areas to better shape implementation and program delivery through better data insights.
Bridge the gaps between data, policy and program delivery skills We will encourage staff to explore and interrogate our data to realise new insights.
We will show staff how to use existing and new sources of data to drive improved program performance and transparency of program outcomes.

What success looks like 

  • We know where our expertise lies within the department and are able to draw on it for challenges where that expertise would add value. 
  • More staff can interpret our data and look for new ways to leverage their insights to improve the success of their work.

Planned initiatives

  • Promote our data-driven achievements through existing channels and new showcases.

Strategic oversight and implementation

Implementation oversight

Coordinate implementation across the strategic partners

Data, Digital and Privacy Committee

Data Champion

Will work in concert with the Data, Digital and Privacy Committee and with the Economics Branch to ensure success of the strategy

Strategic partners

Work together to meet shared goals identified in initiatives within our departmental strategies

Data Strategy

Managed by Economics Branch

Information Technology Strategy

Jointly managed by IT Strategy and Governance Team in the Job Seeker Development Branch, Infrastructure Platforms Branch and Digital Workplace Branch

People Strategy

Managed by People Branch

Information Management Strategy

Managed by Digital Workplace Branch


Those across the department who acquire, use, share and release data

All Staff

Everyone in the department will contribute to the strategy, in one or more roles

Data roles and capability within the department

The definitions below aim to establish a common language and understanding of the data skills and capabilities that are used and needed in our department. This in turn provides the basis for mapping and developing the data capabilities required to support the implementation of the data strategy. All departmental staff should recognise themselves as data users, while some staff employ specialised capabilities as part of their role, and others have a mix of activities that will require them to undertake  a range of the functions listed at any given time.

Data user Has at least basic data literacy, can create basic data visualisations and interpret evidence from data reports.
Data Analyst Extracts data and performs advanced data analysis, data mining and/or modelling, using commonly understood data programming languages.
Performs predictive analysis, causal analysis, designs and applies machine learning, optimises code.
Data custodians and stewards Provides guidance as to how that data can be used for other purposes and ensures that it remains fit for purpose.
A custodian is accountable for and manages a dataset from a technical perspective, while a steward is accountable for data assets from a business perspective. The roles of data steward and data custodian are complementary.
Data developer Works with data analysts and users to transform collected data into a form that they can use for analysis and sharing, documents the transformation process and provides contextual information about the data suited to a broader audience.
Ensures the source data is fit for purpose and appropriately documented for a technical audience. Identifies and implements improvements to the quality and context of the underlying source data.
Data architect Selects and implements the most appropriate system to house a data source and provides technical support to protect and maintain the integrity of the data.
Data translator A communication role between data analysts and executive decision-makers. Specifically, skilled at understanding the department’s needs, can talk to policy, data and technology requirements and easily communicate this to others.
Data policy and law experts Supports data related activities within the department by collaborating across data roles to develop policies and processes that support their work and align with regulatory obligations and community expectations.
Manages contracts between the department and data storage companies and advises on risk management.
Data executive Draws on data to inform decision making, influences the level of data literacy and capability within their workforce.
Governs how data from their area of accountability is shared and used.

Towards implementation: The roadmap

The roadmap shows the initiatives that will allow our department to achieve the aims outlined in this strategy. Further details, including which area of the department will take responsibility for the implementation of each initiative, is detailed within the implementation plan.

This diagram displays a summary of the work intended to implement the strategy. The diagram shows each of the six key initiatives and the multiple stages involved in implementing each initiative.

Harness, Protect, Grow and Communicate icons for Data Strategy Roadmap

Harness our Data, Grow our capability, Protect our Data and Communicate data insights

This diagram displays a summary of the work intended to implement the strategy. The diagram shows each of the six key initiatives and the multiple stages involved in implementing each initiative. At the top of the diagram are calendar years from 2019 to 2021, indicating the two year lifespan of the strategy. Each stage is placed within the diagram to give an approximate indication of the sequence and timing for each stage of work. The initiatives and stages of work are colour coded to match the strategic aim that each initiative is in part designed to meet. On the right hand side of the diagram each of the strategic aim icons are listed to remind readers of what each colour represents.

The first initiative is Metadata, coloured orange to match the Harness Our Data aim. There are three stages of work for this initiative – Project Scoping in early 2019, Data Asset Design Protocol in early 2020 and Collecting and storing metadata in late 2020.

The second initiative is Data Sharing, coloured light blue to match the Protect Our Data aim. There are three stages of work for this initiative, though the final stage of work is coloured orange as it relates to the Harness Our Data aim. The stages are Data Sharing and Release Policy in early 2019, Data Sharing Agreement Protocol in mid¬ 2020 and Capitalise on Sharing Opportunities in early 2021.

The third initiative is Capability, coloured green to match the Grow Our Capability aim. There are two streams of work. The first stream has two stages: Assess Staff Capability in mid-2019 and Learning and Development Program in late 2020. The second stream has three stages. Assess Analytical Platforms in late 2019, which is coloured orange as it relates to the Harness Our Data aim, then green coloured Specialist Skill Learning Pathways in mid-2020 and Pilot Emerging Technology in early 2021.

The fourth initiative is Collaboration, coloured green to match the Grow Our Capability aim. There are two stages of work, Scope Communities of Practice in late 2019 and Develop Communities of Practice in late 2020.

The fifth initiative is Data Hub, coloured orange to match the Harness Our Data aim. There are three stages of work, Stocktake existing assets in early 2019, Data Hub in mid-2020 and Improve Access in early 2021.

The sixth initiative is Promotion, coloured dark blue to match the Communicate Data Insights aim. There are three stages of work, Use existing forums in mid-2019, Technology Showcases in mid-2020 and Data Showcases in early 2021.

2019-21 Data Strategy

A pdf version of the 2019-21 Data Strategy is available.