Child Development and Education Research Partnership

The CCDE is leading an important data linkage research partnership.

Data about each of us is held in a variety of unconnected databases such as education and health records. This project aims to join the dots between departmental records so that researchers and planners can see the big picture without compromising individuals’ privacy. Privacy is assured by ensuring that the team linking the data is separate from the data analysts. One group see the names, birth dates etc. but no sensitive data (e.g. health status, school grades), while the other sees the data but no identifying information.

Our project is linking data on approximately 70,000 NT children; birth, hospitalisation and immunisation records, their Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) results, school enrolment, attendance and National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) test results as well as child protection and police data. We have also included publically available community-level data such as community size, housing overcrowding and measures of remoteness.   

Unlike most Australian jurisdictions the NT has a very high proportion of children who are Indigenous (40% vs 5% nationally) and from (very) remote locations (49% vs 3% nationally) so we have a unique opportunity to improve our understanding of the developmental paths of such children.

Early data analysis is already generating important policy-relevant findings. For example teenage pregnancy and maternal smoking have very significant effects on the child’s AEDI and NAPLAN results. Overcrowded housing is a very strong predictor of high levels of school absenteeism. Quality preschool and other early childhood services appear to be especially beneficial for remote Indigenous children

We have received National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnership Grant funding to upgrade our previous linkage project to one that is fully staffed. The expanded research team will include experts in each relevant subject area as well as expert analysts and health economists. The partner organisations are the NT Departments of Health, Education and Children & Families, Menzies School of Health Research and AMSANT (the peak body for Indigenous controlled health boards).

For more information about data linkage visit: https://www.santdatalink.org.au/

Related References:

Impact of perinatal health and socio-demographic factors on school education outcomes: A population study of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in the Northern Territory

Unpacking educational inequality in the Northern Territory