Data collectionIn Victoria, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status is a mandatory field in all major health datasets. The Victorian Admitted Episodes Dataset (VAED), the Victorian Emergency Minimum Dataset (VEMD), and the Victorian Perinatal Data Collection (VPDC) contain good-quality data on Indigenous identification. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification is also collected through the Alcohol and Drug Information System (ADIS), the Notification of Infectious Diseases System (NIDS) and community health direct care database.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of Victoria forms a small proportion of a large, mainly urban population. Correct identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Victoria is challenging in all datasets.
Measures to improve dataImproving Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patients (ICAP) program includes 30% case-mix co-payment to hospitals for patients identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. The program encourages an outcomes focus leading to improved identification and health care.
Victorian hospital datasets include two additional fields in the standard Indigenous status question: 'Question unable to be asked' and 'Patient refused to answer'. The addition of these fields has enabled the Department of Health to identify instances of misuse of either field very quickly. This has contributed to the improving rate of Indigenous identification.
Changes in access to data systems have also meant that more frequent monitoring of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital separations is possible, and errors can be discovered and rectified.
In January 2009, the Victorian Perinatal Data Collection (VPDC) allowed the recording of the Indigenous status of babies as separate from the mother. This will accommodate the large proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies born in Victoria who have an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander father and non-Indigenous mother. At the same time the VPDC also included antenatal care and maternal tobacco smoking.
The Department of Health and PapScreen Victoria have developed a system for recording and reporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status of women participating in Pap screens. A pilot study has been completed and was successful in training nurses to collect Indigenous status. The system will be extended to GP providers.
In 2008 the Department of Health conducted the first Victorian Population Health Survey with a reportable sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents. The sample was expended in 2011.
AIHW has now released An enhanced mortality for estimating Indigenous life expectancy: a feasibility study, which contains Victorian-specific life expectancy estimates for the first time.
Victoria participated in the audit of hospital inpatient data coordinated by AIHW in 2011. This confirmed the level of identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in Victorian hospitals and highlighted areas of greater need.
The Victorian Aboriginal Child Mortality Study, based at the University of Melbourne, will bring together birth and death information from a number of data sources to give an accurate report of the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies born between 1988 and 2008, and the number and causes of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who died during this period. The linked datasets will also provide an assessment of the coverage of the individual datasets.Top