What is the Data Exchange?

The Data Exchange is the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) new approach to program performance reporting. It includes a simple and easy to use IT system called the Data Exchange that provides flexible ways to submit performance information to the Department.

The name Data Exchange reflects the two-way focus of collecting data from service providers, and sharing this information back with them through self-service reports.

The Data Exchange commenced from 1 July 2014 and covers the majority of client-based programs in the Department of Social Services as well as some programs from the Department of Health and Attorney-General’s Department. Please refer to the Service Type Matrix (Appendix A) for an up-to-date list of in-scope program activities.

For a quick and succinct overview of how the Data Exchange works to help organisations achieve stronger community outcomes, please watch the new animated video available on the home page. It provides an excellent introduction for anyone who is new to the Data Exchange or can  be a useful reminder of why and how we measure client outcomes to improve the wellbeing of our communities.

Key benefits of the Data Exchange

The Data Exchange takes a ‘collect once and use often’ approach to data collection. Reporting requirements have been standardised to a core set of priority requirements.

Service providers can choose from three flexible ways to submit their data:

  • A web-based portal (that can be used like a free case management system)
  • Bulk uploads
  • System-to-system transfers

The streamlined and standardised approach to reporting supports service providers to focus on front line service delivery and achieve better outcomes for individuals, families and their communities.

The importance of outcomes

The Data Exchange shifts the focus of performance measurement from outputs to more meaningful information about service delivery outcomes.

Outcomes information is collected in two ways; directly from clients as part of client surveys and from service providers who choose to participate in a partnership approach to provide additional outcomes focused information as part of their grant agreement requirements.

In both circumstances, outcomes are collected using a concept known as SCORE which stands for Standard Client/Community Outcomes Reporting.

The option of a partnership approach

When reporting information about clients, service providers can choose to share a voluntary extended data set with the Department, in return for access to a set of additional self-service reports. This is known as the partnership approach and will help build the evidence base regarding the effectiveness of government funded programs and service delivery approaches.

Participation in the partnership approach is entirely voluntary and there will be no negative consequences if a service provider chooses not to provide this extended data set and submits only the standard priority requirements.

Access to valuable data through self-service reports

All organisations using the Data Exchange will have access to standard self-service reports, while organisations choosing to participate in the partnership approach will have access to a sophisticated suite of infographic partnership reports.

  • The Standard Reports reflect the information collected as part of the priority requirements displayed in traditional bar, table and pie graph formats.
  • The Partnership Reports use the priority requirements and partnership data combined with Government and population datasets to provide valuable insights into service delivery using innovative approaches to display this information.

Reporting periods have been standardised to two six-monthly periods that cover 1 January to 30 June and 1 July to 31 December. Organisations can choose to submit their data on a daily, weekly or monthly basis at any time during the reporting period. However all data must be submitted within 30 days after the close of each period. For details, please refer to the Data Exchange Protocols document.

More information

In addition to information provided on these web pages, the Data Exchange Framework document will provide an overview of the policy approach underpinning this new way of program reporting.

A number of summary fact sheets are also available:

Subscribe to our mailing list if you want to be advised of any new developments within the Data Exchange.

Training and support

A range of training resources and Helpdesk assistance is available for users of the Data Exchange.

Further information about the policy and approach to outcomes reporting is available on the Policy and Guidance page.