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Alcohol and other drug treatment services NMDS, 2011–12; Quality Statement

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Help on this termQuality Statement
Synonymous names:Help on this termAODTS NMDS 2011–12—Data Quality Statement
METeOR identifier:Help on this term525710
Registration status:Help on this termAIHW Data Quality Statements, Archived 31/07/2014

Data quality

Quality statement summary:Help on this termSummary of key data quality issues

Data are reported by each state and territory regardless of funding type. Because all services are publicly funded, they receive at least some of their funding through a state, territory or Australian government program. The actual funding program cannot be differentiated, however services are categorised according to their sector, with government funded and operated services reported as public services and those operated by non-government organisations reported as private services.

National data are affected by variations in service structures and collection practices between states and territories and care should be taken when making comparisons between them. Also, the AODTS NMDS has been implemented in stages, so comparisons across years, particularly the earlier years of the collection, need to be made with caution. Data for 2001–02 and 2003–04 have not been included in the 2011–12 annual report due to these comparability issues.

As a unit of measurement, the ‘closed treatment episode’ used in the AODTS NMDS cannot provide information on the number of clients who access publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment, nor can it provide information on the extent of concurrent, sequential or recurrent service use. This is because it is possible for a single individual to access more than one service at a time, for different treatments and for different substance use problems.


The AODTS NMDS presents data about alcohol and other drug treatment services, their clients, drugs of concern and the types of treatment received. The AODTS NMDS counts treatment episodes completed during the collection period, which for this collection was 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012. This includes all clients who had completed one or more treatment episodes at an alcohol and other drug treatment service that was in scope during 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012.

The AODTS NMDS is a collection of data from publicly funded treatment services in all states and territories, including those directly funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA). Publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies collect the agreed data items and forward this information to the appropriate health authority as arranged. Agencies ensure that the required information is accurately recorded.

For most states and territories, the data provided for the national collection are a subset of a more detailed jurisdictional data set used for planning at that level.

Institutional environment:Help on this termInstitutional environment

Under a Memorandum of Understanding with the DoHA, the AIHW is responsible for the management of the AODTS NMDS. The AIHW maintains a coordinating role in the collection, including providing secretariat duties to the AODTS NMDS Working Group, undertaking data development and highlighting national and jurisdictional implementation and collection issues. The AIHW is also the data custodian of the national collection and is responsible for collating data from jurisdictions into a national data set and analysing and reporting on the data.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government under the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987 to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare. It is an independent statutory authority established in 1987, governed by a management board, and accountable to the Australian Parliament through the Health and Ageing portfolio.

The AIHW aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians through better health and welfare information and statistics. It collects and reports information on a wide range of topics and issues, from health and welfare expenditure, hospitals, disease and injury, and mental health, to ageing, homelessness, disability and child protection.

The Institute also plays a role in developing and maintaining national metadata standards. This work contributes to improving the quality and consistency of national health and welfare statistics. The Institute works closely with governments and non-government organisations to achieve greater adherence to these standards in administrative data collections to promote national consistency and comparability of data and reporting.

One of the main functions of the AIHW is to work with the states and territories to improve the quality of administrative data and, where possible, to compile national data sets based on data from each jurisdiction, to analyse these data sets and disseminate information and statistics.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987, in conjunction with compliance to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cwlth), ensures that the data collections managed by the AIHW are kept securely and under the strictest conditions with respect to privacy and confidentiality.

For further information see the AIHW website <>.

Timeliness:Help on this term


The state and territory health departments and the DoHA provide data to the AIHW using the AIHW’s online data validation tool (Validata™). This tool allows data suppliers to upload their data files and have them validated immediately. For the 2011–12 collection, data were due for submission through the Validata™ at the end of November 2012 with final approval of all data due at the end of December 2012. The 2011–12 collection was finalised in late February 2013.

Accessibility:Help on this termAccessibility

Publications containing AODTS NMDS data, including the annual Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia reports, are available on the AIHW website These reports are available for download free of charge. To enhance data availability, a series of extensive supplementary tables accompanying the annual report is also available online.

Requests for unpublished data can be made by contacting the AIHW on (02) 6244 1000 or via email to A cost-recovery charge may apply to requests that require substantial resources. Depending on the nature of the request, requests for access to unpublished data may require approval from the data custodians or the AIHW Ethics Committee.

Interpretability:Help on this termInterpretability

Contextual information on the alcohol and other drug treatment sector is available in the annual Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia reports. Supporting information about the data includes footnotes to tables and figures and details about the data items and methods used in reporting, as well as glossary items.

Metadata for the AODTS NMDS is available from METeOR, the AIHW’s online metadata repository. METeOR specifications for the collection can be accessed from

Relevance:Help on this termRelevance

The AODTS NMDS contains information on treatment episodes provided by publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services.

Data on agencies

The AODTS NMDS contains information on publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services. Agencies are excluded from the AODTS NMDS if they:

  • do not receive any public funding
  • provide accommodation as their main function (including half-way houses and sobering-up shelters)
  • are located in prisons or detention centres
  • are located in acute care or psychiatric hospitals and only provide treatment to admitted patients
  • have the sole function of prescribing or providing dosing for opioid pharmacotherapy (these agencies are excluded because of the complexity of this sector).

OATSIH-funded primary health care services and substance use services are in scope for the AODTS NMDS but most of these agencies do not contribute to the collection as they currently provide data to other collections.

For each agency in the AODTS NMDS, data are collected on the geographical location of the agency.

Data on treatment episodes

The AODTS NMDS contains information on all treatment episodes provided by in-scope agencies where the episode was closed in the relevant financial year. A treatment episode is considered closed where:

  • the treatment is completed or has ceased
  • there has been no contact between the client and treatment provider for 3 months
  • there is a change in the main treatment type, principal drug of concern or delivery setting.

Treatment episodes are excluded from the AODTS NMDS if they:

  • are not closed in the relevant financial year
  • are for clients who are receiving pharmacotherapy and not receiving any other form of treatment that falls within the scope of the collection
  • only include activities relating to needle and syringe exchange
  • are for a client aged under 10.

For each treatment episode in the AODTS NMDS, data are collected on:

  • the client: sex, date of birth, Indigenous status, country of birth, preferred language, source of referral and injecting drug status
  • whether the client is receiving treatment for their own drug use or someone else’s drug use
  • the drugs of concern (principal drug of concern and up to 5 additional drugs of concern)
  • the method of use for the principal drug of concern
  • types of treatment (main treatment type and up to 4 additional treatment types)
  • the start and end dates of the episode and the reason the episode was closed.
Data on clients

The AODTS NMDS does not contain a unique identifier for clients and information about clients is collected at the episode level. Therefore, it is not possible to count the number of distinct clients receiving treatment as clients may have multiple treatment episodes in a financial year.

In future years, the AODTS NMDS will include data items that will allow distinct clients to be counted.
Accuracy:Help on this termAccuracy

Data for the AODTS NMDS are extracted each year from the administrative systems of the health departments or are provided by the treatment agencies directly to the health departments. These data are then collated by the health departments according to the definitions and technical specifications agreed to by the departments and the AIHW.

Data for the AODTS NMDS are available from 2001–02; however, due to comparability issues, only data from 2003–04 are used in this report.

Almost 90% of in-scope treatment services provided data for the AODTS NMDS in 2011–12; this ranged from 82% in the Australian Capital Territory to 100% in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania. Each in-scope treatment service is required to provide information on each agency related to the service (including delivery outlets). However, some services only provide information on the main administrative centre. As a result, the number of treatment agencies may be under counted (information on the number of agencies for which data are not provided is not available).

Overall, the coverage of episode data in the AODTS NMDS for 2011–12 is good. For most data elements, less than 2% of records have missing data (including not stated or unknown responses) while around 5% of records have an unknown Indigenous status. Of the records relating to episodes provided to clients receiving treatment for their own drug use, reason for cessation is not available for 3%, method of drug use is not available for 4% and injecting drug use status is not available for 15%.

State and territory issues:

New South Wales

New South Wales Health collects data from all Australian Government/state government-funded agencies as part of requirements stipulated in a signed service agreement at the commencement or renewal of each funding agreement. Data are provided monthly by agencies to their respective Local Health Districts (LHD).There are a number of data collection systems in use and development. The New South Wales Minimum Data Set is collected by these systems from which the collection of the AODTS NMDS is provided. New South Wales is developing a State Baseline Build related to alcohol and other drugs which will roll out to New South Wales through the CHIME and Cerner systems over the next few years. The majority of NGO data are collected via the NADA online system. NADA (Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies) is the peak organisation for the non-government drug and alcohol sector in NSW.

For 2008–09, the total number of agencies and episodes for New South Wales was under-reported by about 12 agencies because of system issues. As these agencies had a relatively high proportion of methamphetamine clients, the number of episodes for amphetamine use will be under-reported.


The Victorian Drug Treatment Service Program provides a range of services to cover the needs of clients experiencing substance abuse issues. The Victorian Government purchases these drug treatment services from independent agencies (non-government organisations) on behalf of the community, and has developed the concept of an ‘episode of care’ as the fundamental unit for service funding. An episode of care is a particular course of treatment in which the client achieves at least one significant treatment goal under the care of an alcohol and other drug worker.

The episode of care is a measure of successful client outcomes. It aims to develop performance measurement beyond activities, throughputs and outputs, to measure what the client gets out of treatment. Agencies funded to provide drug treatment services in Victoria have service provision targets, which are defined in terms of number of episodes of care to be provided by service type and by target group (for example, youth or adult). As a requirement of their funding agreement with the Victorian Department of Health, agencies are required to submit data quarterly detailing their provision of drug treatment services and achievement of episodes of care. A subset of this data is contributed to the AODTS NMDS annually.

The majority of Victorian alcohol and other drug service providers continue to use the SWITCH or FullADIS information systems to report quarterly activity. However, hospitals and community health centres have since 2007–08 used the HealthSMART client management systems to report on alcohol and other drug treatment activity.

Victoria does not differentiate between main and other treatment types. Caution should be used in comparing Victorian episodes with those of other states and territories. As such, Victoria is not directly comparable with other jurisdictions because every treatment type provided is reported as a separate episode.

Victoria only provides information about non-government agencies that receive public funding.

In Victoria, assessment only episodes include brokerage services wherein clients with drug conditions who have received sentences are assessed, a treatment plan developed, and the necessary treatment purchased from community-based alcohol and other drug treatment agencies. The very nature of these types of episodes results in durations that may exceed 90 days. Following the implementation of a new operational system for brokerage services, from October 2011 brokerage assessments for treatment are closed when the client is referred to the nominated agency funded to delivery, rather than at the completion of treatment by that agency. This will result in a significant reduction in the duration of these episodes. As the actual completion date was not available for episodes from October 2011 onwards, episodes for these brokerage assessments were given a nominal completion date that was equal to the commencement date as most assessments are completed within 1 day. Actual completion dates will be available from 2012–13.


Queensland Department of Health collects data from all Queensland Government alcohol and other drug treatment service providers and from all Queensland Illicit Drug Diversion Initiatives—Police and Court Diversion clients. The Australian Government currently collects data from the Australian Government–funded agencies operating in Queensland.

Queensland Department of Health has a state-wide web-based clinical information management system supporting the collection of AODTS NMDS items for all Queensland Government alcohol and other drug treatment services.

Since 2007, the Queensland Department of Health has funded the Queensland Network of Alcohol and Drug Agencies Ltd (QNADA) to collate and deliver to the Queensland Department of Health aggregated AODTS NMDS data for the Alcohol and Other Drug Non-Government Sector.

Care should be taken when interpreting principal drug of concern over time for Queensland, as Queensland did not provide data consistent with the AODTS NMDS specifications in 2001–02.

The proportion of ‘not stated’ responses for injecting drug use and method of use in Queensland in 2010–11 was high (59% and 58%, respectively). This high ‘not stated’ rate was due to a one-off anomaly with the introduction of a new collection database and data entry issues related to staff training and compliance. An ongoing strategy of re-engagement with alcohol and other drug treatment services Queensland staff commenced in November 2011 to mitigate this low response rate for the 2010–11 and future collection periods.

Treatment provided to people diverted to services by police and the courts is recorded as ‘information and education only’. Actual treatment involves a 2-hour treatment session that includes extensive alcohol and drug assessment to determine dependence, assessment of risk-taking behaviours, provision of advice and information on reducing/ceasing drug use and harm minimisation, motivational intervention, provision of resources and referral.

Western Australia

Data are provided by both government and non-government sectors. Non-government services are contracted by the Drug and Alcohol Office (DAO) to provide alcohol and drug services. They have contractual obligations to incorporate the data elements of the AODTS NMDS in their collections. They are also obliged to provide data in a regular and timely manner to DAO. These data are collated and checked by DAO before submission to the AIHW annually.

Due to the increase in integrated services that include government and non-government service providers, caution should be used in comparing services in Western Australia with those in other states and territories and across years. Services in Western Australia are not directly comparable with other states, or previous years, because of the growth of integrated services that include government and non-government service providers.

In Western Australia, a reform in the way non-residential treatment services are provided in the Perth metropolitan area has resulted in the co-location and integration of some government and non-government services. Time series data do not adequately illustrate these changes.

Western Australia reviews the geographical demographics of their clients regularly throughout the year and adjusts the locations of their service delivery outlets accordingly to meet the demands of the population. Therefore, variation between remote and very remote locations exists between years.

Clients are generally able to access the agencies from multiple sites within any one episode depending on the client’s need and the availability of appointments within the alcohol and other drug treatment service. Examples of where these situations occur are when clients:

  • follow a specific worker from one service delivery outlet to another
  • change workers during an episode and the workers are located at different service delivery outlets
  • attend one service delivery outlet for the initial service contact (commencement of episode) due to availability of appointment times and move to a more convenient service delivery outlet during the episode
  • move between service delivery outlets to fit service contacts within clients’ other personal needs.
South Australia

Data are provided by government (Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia—DASSA) and non-government alcohol and other drug treatment services.

Non-government alcohol and other drug treatment services in South Australia are subject to service agreements with the South Australian Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse. As part of these service agreements, non-government organisations are required to provide timely client data in accordance with the AODTS NMDS guidelines. Data are forwarded to DASSA for collation and checking. DASSA then forwards cleaned data to the AIHW annually. DASSA does not collect information directly from those services funded by the NGOTGP. Data are provided directly to the DoHA.


Data are provided by both government (Alcohol and Drug Services—ADS) and non-government organisations (NGOs).

NGOs funded by the Tasmanian Government provide AODTS NMDS and key performance indicator data under the provisions of a service agreement. AODTS NMDS data are submitted to ADS State Office on either a six-monthly or yearly basis. Data quality reports are fed back to the NGOs and training/information on data capture practices are provided as required.

ADS uses the iPM patient administration system as its key business system. This state-wide system is in use across the three Tasmanian Health Organisations (THOs), which include inpatient, residential, outpatient and community service settings. It has been modified to capture the AODTS NMDS data items. A range of online self-service reporting is used to monitor performance activity and data quality.

Tasmania’s illicit drug diversion treatment data are managed and extracted from the Drug Offence Reporting System (DORS). This system resides with Tasmania Police. A high proportion of treatment episodes in Tasmania with the principal drug of cannabis can be attributed largely to the inclusion of this data.

The Tasmania Early Intervention Project (TEIP) commenced in 2011. This project focuses on young people and involves a police caution that facilitates a referral for young people to an alcohol and other drug treatment service for brief or opportunistic intervention. AODTS NMDS data for this program is entered via the iPM patient administration system.

Training in culturally sensitive practice has been provided for service providers across the Tasmanian alcohol and other drug service sector. Despite this, Tasmanian data reporting for Indigenous status still remains low.

Australian Capital Territory

Australian Capital Territory alcohol and other drug treatment service providers supply the Health Directorate with their complete data collection for the AODTS NMDS by 31 August each financial year, as specified in their Service Funding Agreement. Since 1 July 2007 the treatment service providers have been encouraged to use a standardised reporting system developed by the Health Directorate to enhance uniformity and reliability of data.

The observed increase in assessment only episodes between 2009–10 and 2010–11 was related to one agency which increased assessment activity that resulted in increased numbers of clients being assessed as unsuitable or not attending treatment.

The number of counselling treatment services in the Australian Capital Territory has decreased between 2009–10 and 2010–11. The Australian Capital Territory noted two agencies that provide the majority of counselling treatment in the Australian Capital Territory both reported a reduced number of closed treatment episodes since 2009-10. One agency advised there were a number of variables that contributed the low number of occasions of service, such as significant staff shortages for the counselling team and a high number of vacancies for allotted counselling sessions.

Northern Territory

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in the Northern Territory are provided by government and non-government agencies. The bulk of services provided through non-government agencies are funded via service-level agreements with the Northern Territory Department of Health. All funded agencies are required to provide the AODTS NMDS data items to the department on a regular and timely basis as part of a larger data collection. Summary statistical reports are sent to all agencies every 6 months detailing client activity for the previous 12 months.

Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA)

DoHA funds a number of alcohol and other drug treatment services under the National Illicit Drug Strategy Non-Government Organisation Treatment Grants Program (NGOTGP). These agencies are required to collect data (according to the AODTS NMDS specifications) to facilitate the monitoring of their activities and to provide quantitative information to the Australian Government on their activities. Data from these agencies are generally submitted to the relevant state/territory health authority, except for a number of agencies in Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, which submit data annually to the DoHA.

Reported numbers for each state and territory in the AODTS NMDS annual report include services provided under the National Illicit Drug Strategy NGOTGP.

To ensure consistency with previous years’ data, where an organisation’s sub-agencies have been given more than one establishment identifier, those identifiers were used and so sub-agencies were counted as separate agencies. When an organisation’s subprojects have been given one establishment identifier, only this establishment identifier was used, and so counted as one agency.

In 2011–12, the DoHA conducted a review of the processes used to collate and provide NGOTGP agencies. The review resulted in an additional 14 agencies submitting data to the 2011–12 collection from what was observed in 2009–10.

Coherence:Help on this term


The AODTS NMDS was initially developed from 1996 to 2001 and the first report containing data from the AODTS NMDS was published in 2002. The data specifications were significantly altered for the 2003–04 collection and data from 2000–01 to 2002–03 are not comparable with data from later years.

Data products

Implementation start date:Help on this term14/06/2013

Relational attributes

Related metadata references:Help on this term

Supersedes Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services–National Minimum Dataset 2010–11 Report - Data quality statement AIHW Data Quality Statements, Archived 31/07/2014

Has been superseded by Alcohol and other drug treatment services NMDS, 2012–13; Quality Statement AIHW Data Quality Statements, Archived 25/05/2015

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