Online Services Report (OSR) Database, 2018–19

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Quality Statement
METeOR identifier:743438
Registration status:AIHW Data Quality Statements, Archived 02/06/2021

Data quality

Quality statement summary:


Since 2008–09, the Online Services Report (OSR) collection has been conducted annually on organisations that receive Australian Government funding to provide health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The collection consists of contextual information about each organisation, including client numbers, client contacts, episodes of care, and staffing levels.

Summary of key issues

  • The number of organisations in-scope to report varies by period.
  • Not all organisations in-scope to report to the collection do so. This varies by period.
  • Data are excluded if data quality issues have not been resolved by the close of the submission period. This varies by period.
  • In 2018–19, the OSR collection underwent significant change and was scaled back to include only ‘core’ items.
Institutional environment:

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is an independent corporate Commonwealth entity under the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987 (AIHW Act), governed by a management Board and accountable to the Australian Parliament through the Health portfolio.

The AIHW is a nationally recognised information management agency. Its purpose is to create authoritative and accessible information and statistics that inform decisions and improve the health and welfare of all Australians.

Compliance with confidentiality requirements in the AIHW Act, Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act 1988, (Cth) and AIHW’s data governance arrangements ensures that the AIHW is well positioned to release information for public benefit while protecting the identity of individuals and organisations.

For further information see the AIHW website, which includes details about the AIHW’s governance ( and vision and strategic goals (

The OSR data are submitted via the Department of Health’s Health Data Portal (HDP). Cleaned and finalised data from organisations are transferred from the HDP to a data storage facility, the Department of Health’s Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW). The AIHW has access to the data in order to investigate and improve data quality; compile a national reporting dataset; and to manage third party data requests.


Data are supplied by organisations annually (for each financial year). The 2018–19 collection covers the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.

The national reporting dataset cannot be compiled until the Department of Health closes off data submission and submitted data are cleaned and finalised. Up to that date, the AIHW works with organisations to resolve errors or, if unresolved data quality issues remained, to flag the data for exclusion from the national reporting dataset. For the 2018–19 collection, data submission started 1 July 2019 and data were finalised 8 October 2019.

Data from the national reporting dataset were released to submitting organisations (via organisation specific reports) 17 December 2019.

Data from the national reporting dataset were released via the AIHW website 30 June 2020.


Data from 2018–19 are published in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific primary health care: results from the OSR and nKPI collections.

Users can request data not available online or in reports via email to or via the AIHW data request system (noting the release of data are subject to restrictions and requests that take longer than half an hour to compile are charged for on a cost-recovery basis).


Metadata relating to the OSR collection is available in the METeOR Data Set Specification for the collection.

Information is also available via the Technical appendix and supplementary data tables of the associated report.


The scope of the 2018–19 OSR collection is organisations receiving funding under the Australian Government’s Indigenous Australian’s Health Programme (IAHP).

Most organisations are Indigenous-specific primary health care organisations, however, a small number of organisations that receive funding only for maternal and child health services are also included in the collection (termed MCH organisations). MCH organisations are generally not primary health care organisations, and are instead specific programs or services embedded within hospitals, health services, or primary health networks.

Most organisations report on all health/clinical services and related Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staffing levels regardless of the funding source. MCH organisations are only required to report on activities related to the IAHP funding rather than all activities.

The reference period for the 2018–19 collection is 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.

Data are available at the national, state/territory and remoteness area levels. In 2018–19 geographic information is recorded based on the physical address of the main site of the organisation. This is used for analysis at jurisdictional and remoteness level.


In some reporting periods, not all organisations who are required to report to the collection do so. For 2018–19, all 232 of the organisations that were required to report submitted data. Of the 210 primary health care organisations, all submitted data.

The main clinical information systems (CIS) are able to generate OSR data within their clinical system and transmit it directly to the HDP. Organisations using other CIS manually enter data into a web-based form in the HDP.

The AIHW applies a series of validation rules to check the quality of the data supplied by each organisation. Where the AIHW identifies possible errors or inconsistencies, organisations are provided with a description of the issue to seek further explanation or invited to resubmit data. Data may be resubmitted until the collection period is closed off by the Department of Health. For 2018–19, the AIHW returned data to 193 out of the 232 organisations who reported that period. Where unresolved data quality issues are identified, the AIHW excludes these data from the national reporting dataset. For the 2018–19 collection, 5 (2%) organisations overall had unresolved validation issues affecting 10 data items at the close of the reporting cycle. Of the primary health care organisations, 4 (2%) organisations had unresolved validation issues affecting 5 data items.

Common data quality queries received during data submission relate to incomplete or inaccurate data (for example, workforce positions not reported or reported in terms of the number of people rather than full-time equivalent positions); data discrepancies between two or more questions (for example, the number of clients exceeding the number of episodes of care); and large increases or decreases in data items compared with previous submissions.

Some organisations were unable to provide exact data and provided estimates of client numbers and episodes of care. In 2018–19, 31 (13%) organisations estimated their episodes of care and 23 (10%) estimated their client numbers. Of the 210 primary health care organisations, 24 (11%) estimated their episodes of care and 21 (10%) estimated their client numbers. These data were accepted unless the AIHW assessed their data were likely to overestimate actual numbers.  


This section includes information from the 2018–19 collection as well as selected issues from previous collections that have substantial impact on coherence. Users comparing data between periods are advised to also refer to data quality statements for all intervening collections.

Information collected—The collection began in 2008–09 to replace the Service Activity Reporting, Drug and Alcohol Services Reporting, and Bringing Them Home and Link-up counselling data collections.

In 2012–13, following a review of the OSR collection, a revised collection instrument was introduced. For more details of the changes see the Online Services Report (OSR) Database, 2012–13 DQS.

Up to 2017–18, the collection included data from:

  • comprehensive primary health care organisations
  • maternal and child health programs
  • social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB)/Link-up counselling services (funded by The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C))
  • standalone substance use services (funded by PM&C).

In 2018–19, the OSR collection underwent significant change and was scaled back to include only ‘core’ items. Items dropped include the PM&C funded modules on substance use and social and emotional wellbeing, along with the services provided and cultural safety items. Plans are underway to reintroduce or add key items in a staged approach over the next few years (see the Health Data Portal: Online Services Report).

For collections prior to 2018–19, specific questions for maternal and child health (MCH) organisations were included in a separate module. In 2018–19, these were integrated but the data MCH organisations were required to report was only focused on what they received MCH funding for, not all types of health services the health organisation offered.

Organisations reporting to the collection—while for the most part it is the same organisations reporting to the collection each period, as a result of changes in funding, auspicing or reporting arrangements at the local level:

  • the organisations that are funded to provide services vary between periods
  • the funded organisations that report data each period vary (for example, an organisation may be given an exemption from reporting for a specific period).

New Directions—Mothers and Babies services were in scope for the OSR for the first time in the 2013–14 collection. For more details see the Online Services Report (OSR) Database, 2013–14 DQS.

Data quality and exclusions—the quality of data, and the exclusions applied to data items, vary by period as does the number of organisations submitting valid data, on the whole or for a particular data item. For example, some organisations may be unable to report accurate data in particular periods or for particular data items (for example, because of changes in their clinical information systems or record-keeping practices) and these data are excluded from national reporting.

Episodes of care data for 2016–17 are not comparable with other years because changes were made to the types of contacts counted as an episode of care. For more details see the Online Services Report (OSR) Database, 2016–17 DQS.

Collection methodology:

  • Data were collected by the AIHW for the first time in 2008–09 using a paper-based OSR questionnaire. It would not be appropriate to make time series comparisons with data collected by the Department of Health prior to 2008–09, due to differences in the collection methodology and scope of the collection.
  • From 2012–13, the collection was also assisted by the introduction of the PenCAT audit tool and the OCHREStreams online reporting portal, developed and maintained by the Improvement Foundation for the DoH. For more details see the Online Services Report (OSR) Database, 2012–13 DQS.  
  • The PenCAT tool was not available for use for extracting data onto OCHREStreams from 1 July 2015 and was not used for the 2015–16 collection. For this collection organisations relied on their own data extraction processes and manually entered this data onto OCHREStreams.
  • From 2016–17 the data extraction process was changed to a direct load process to extract data directly from an organisations CIS onto OCHREStreams. For more details see the Online Services Report (OSR) Database, 2016–17 DQS.
  • The 2018–19 collection was the first collection in which organisations submitted data via the HDP rather than OCHREStreams.

Collection period—In 2014–15, the Census date for the collection was brought forward by 1 month to 31 May 2015, rather than 30 June 2015. For more details see the Online Services Report (OSR) Database, 2014–15 DQS.

Data products

Implementation start date:01/07/2018

Source and reference attributes

Submitting organisation:


Relational attributes

Related metadata references:

Supersedes Online Services Report (OSR) Database, 2017–18 AIHW Data Quality Statements, Archived 02/06/2021

Has been superseded by Online Services Report (OSR) Database, 2019–20 AIHW Data Quality Statements, Endorsed 02/06/2021