Data Exchange policy

The Department of Social Services (DSS) is committed to improving the quality and effectiveness of how its programs are delivered. As part of this commitment, DSS has developed the Data Exchange to improve the way we collect and use administrative data.

Working with better data allows both government and organisations to gain new insights into how to meet the needs of vulnerable people in our communities. The Data Exchange helps funding agencies and organisations work with data in a more consistent and efficient way by shifting the focus of how we measure performance from outputs to more meaningful information about service delivery outcomes.

As the name suggests, the Data Exchange also shares data back to organisations in the form of easy to follow reports that help them find smarter and more efficient ways of improving service delivery. We've collated the top training material to guide you through the Data Exchange IT System. If you are new, take a look at the Quick start guide.

On this page

Policy guidance

The Data Exchange Framework outlines the key concepts and policy approach underpinning the new program performance reporting requirements. This document was developed in 2014 as part of a co design process with organisations from a broad range of programs across the Department of Social Services.

The Data Exchange Protocols document is referenced in all Data Exchange in‑scope grant agreements. It is a comprehensive guide outlining program performance requirements to help users to integrate their reporting requirements into existing service and administrative practices.

Program specific guidance provides practical information for managers and front-line staff on the data expected for their program. It also assist them in integrating SCORE (Standard Client/Community Outcome Reporting) outcomes data collection into existing service and administrative practices.

Program specific guidance is divided into nine documents:

If organisations are unsure as to what program specific guidance applies to them, they can check their grant agreement, or contact their Funding Arrangement Manager.

Measuring outcomes

Funding agencies are increasingly interested in understanding what has changed for clients as a result of services they have received. The Data Exchange shifts the focus of performance measurement from outputs to more meaningful information about service delivery outcomes.

The Data Exchange journey

Find out how organisations are making the Data Exchange outcomes reporting system work for them.

Relationships Australia NSW’s Data Journey

Recently the Relationships Australia NSW (RA NSW) leadership team committed to new resources and associated education and training to build data confidence and accountability among staff.


The Data Exchange has been investigating how best to implement a benchmarking methodology which will be developed and incorporated into the Data Exchange. The methodology will be informed by peer-reviewed academic literature and stakeholder consultation and feedback.

An experimental study is planned to begin in 2019.


The Data Exchange is designed to ensure a client’s personal information is protected through stringent protocols that comply with the requirements of the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act), including the Australian Privacy Principles. The Department’s application of best practice data de-identification and aggregation methods, including its use of the statistical linkage key for data matching ensure that a client cannot be identified or re-identified. The Department uses de-identified data for policy, program management and research purposes.

Where an organisation chooses to use the Data Exchange for its own client management purposes, that organisation will seek your consent to collect personal information. More information is in the Data Exchange Protocols, ‘Protecting a client’s personal information’.

The Privacy Impact Assessment confirms that Data Exchange is operating in compliance with the Privacy Act.

Standard Community/Client Outcomes Reporting (SCORE)

SCORE stands for Standard Community/Client Outcomes Reporting. SCORE allows organisations to measure outcomes flexibly using a range of self-selected tools and methods. SCORE allows outcomes to be viewed and reported in a consistent and comparable manner. In order to gather a meaningful data set, organisations who participate in the partnership approach are expected to report client circumstances SCOREs for the majority of their clients (over 50 per cent), unless the funding agreement states otherwise.

SCORE – at a glance

‘SCORE – at a glance’ provides a brief overview of Standard Client/Community Outcomes Reporting (SCORE) – its logic and how it works in practice.

How to use SCORE with clients

‘How to use SCORE with clients’ is a document that lists possible client responses in the SCORE domains of CIRCUMSTANCE, GOAL and SATISFACTION. It can be used directly with clients.