Data set specifications

A data set specification (DSS) is a range of metadata that is collected for a particular purpose. The specification ensures that everyone collecting metadata for this purpose collects the same data, and uses it in the same way.

For example, there is a set of data that is collected on rapid response calls within Australian hospitals, such as when an admitted patient has a heart attack or their condition suddenly deteriorates. This DSS is called the Hospital rapid response calls cluster. This particular DSS contains only four metadata items: the date, time, type and outcome of the rapid response call.

The metadata in a DSS do not have to be collected, but it is recommended.

From 2016–17 onwards the Health Registration Authority decided to re-categorise the health sector DSSs as either 'best endeavours' or 'best practice'. These data sets are not formally required for national collection.

A National Best Endeavours Data Set (NBEDS) is a metadata set of health data which organisations and agencies do their best to collect.

A National Best Practice Data Set (NBPDS) is a metadata set for health data that is recommended for collection by agencies and organisations.

National minimum data sets

A national minimum data set (NMDS) is a type of DSS. It specifies a minimum set of data elements which must be collected and reported across Australia.

There has to be a national agreement for the NMDS to collect uniform data and to supply it as part of the national collection. An NMDS does not prevent agencies and service providers from collecting additional data to meet their own specific needs. An NMDS may include data elements that are also included in other NMDSs.


The re-categorised metadata sets show the change in naming conventions for health DSSs from 2016–17 onwards. You will see that from that date on, these data sets are called 'NBEDS' or 'NBPDS', instead of 'DSS'. The National Minimum Data Sets (NMDSs) for health are also listed.

The exceptions are for those metadata sets which are also endorsed by another Registration Authority, where the Registration Authority is yet to agree to the changed naming conventions.

Community services

Below are links to the current standards for Data Set Specifications (DSS) and National Minimum Data Sets in the community services sector.

Housing and homelessness

Below are links to the current Data Set Specifications in the housing assistance and homelessness sector.

Early childhood

Below is a link to the current Data Set Specifications for the early childhood sector.