Australia’s intergovernmental agreement on data sharing

Commonwealth, state and territory governments sign an agreement to share data across jurisdictions.

Two levels of Australia’s government have signed an agreement to share data across jurisdictions as a default position, where it can be done securely, safely, lawfully and ethically.

Access to data is critical for policy, service delivery, and government decision making. Data held by one government can be valuable to another government in delivering its activities.

Responsibly, securely and seamlessly sharing data between governments is an efficient use of resources and will help drive economic value, innovation, improve services, and deliver better outcomes for Australians.

All jurisdictions agree to share data across jurisdictions as a default position, where it can be done securely, safely, lawfully and ethically. Data will be shared in accordance with established privacy standards.

Data sharing is occurring effectively in some areas and requires improvement in others. To maximise the benefits for all Australians, all governments will improve data sharing processes and practices between jurisdictions. This Agreement builds on Data and Digital Ministers’ efforts to share data, in support of targeting emergency and recovery measures during the pandemic.

Data and Digital Ministers will continue their strategic oversight role in developing data sharing systems to improve outcomes for Australians.

Portfolio Ministers will remain responsible for data sharing activities within their portfolio responsibilities, and will collaborate with Data and Digital Ministers to identify and progress national priority data areas. This Agreement governs the sharing of public sector data, which is data collected and held by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

The parties agree:

Objective and scope of this Agreement

  1. The objective of this Agreement is to improve outcomes for Australians
  2. Data will be shared in the public interest, for the purposes of: i) informing policy decisions; ii) designing, delivering, and evaluating programs
  3. This Agreement recognises data as a shared national asset.

All jurisdictions commit to maximising the value of data to deliver outstanding policies and services for Australians:

  1. This Agreement establishes national data sharing priorities and also seeks to improve business as usual data sharing.
  2. The mechanism for identifying and monitoring national priority data areas is set out at Schedule A to this Agreement.
  3. Default data sharing refers to the expectation governments will work collaboratively, be responsive to data requests and share data unless there is a legitimate reason not to
  4. Data types in scope of this Agreement include the following, where sharing is permitted by or under law.
  5. This Agreement is not intended to create legal relations between the Parties. Notwithstanding this, the Parties intend to comply with all provisions in this Agreement.
  6. This Agreement should be read in conjunction with, and does not override or supersede, all relevant and related legislative obligations, agreements, frameworks and policies.

Guiding principles for this Agreement:

  1.  Value – The use and re-use of public sector data will be optimised through sharing by default between jurisdictions, in a way that promotes reciprocity and mutual benefit
  2. Quality – Cooperate to improve data quality and ability to derive insights, with best endeavours to ensure data is reliable, robust, verifiable and fit-for-purpose
  3.  Secure – Appropriate standards of privacy and security will be upheld to protect shared data to ensure individual and commercial confidentiality and national security
  4. Trusted – Jurisdictions will build trust with Australians when sharing data by adhering to the Data and Digital Ministers’ Trust Principles
  5. Ethical – Appropriate standards of ethics will be applied when sharing data, including that sharing is in the public interest
  6. Lawful – Data sharing has a legal basis, with due diligence undertaken and legal and policy requirements upheld
  7.  Pragmatic – Parties adopt a practical approach to data sharing, recognising all jurisdictions retain decision-making rights on sharing data under the Agreement, including on cost, benefit and risk assessments
  8.  Discoverable – Parties recognise the benefits of new data sharing and data management systems supporting discoverability, interoperability, data and information accessibility, and cost effective access to data
  9. Enabling – Parties recognise the benefits of shared infrastructure and practices to enable data sharing
  10. Contemporary methods – Where required, and possible, shared data will be made available in real time through automated processes, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and secure data access environments
  11.  Accountable – Any decision to decline access to data must be clearly articulated, well substantiated and communicated to the requester as a priority, and as soon as practicable.


  1. Data and Digital Ministers will oversee implementation of this Agreement; seek advice from senior officials and relevant Portfolio Ministers to identify national priority data areas for the National Data Sharing Work Program iii) maintain the Work Program to ensure strong action is taken to address national priority data areas and reform initiatives for data sharing, provide it to National Cabinet on request; and assess performance against the Work Program; iv) Seek advice from their senior officials on implementation of this Agreement and Work Program and task senior officials as necessary to give effect to this Agreement; v) assess the effectiveness of this Agreement and the Work Program; and vi) issue guidance to support implementation, including on the Agreement’s interactions with other data sharing initiatives as needed.
  2.  Commonwealth, State and Territory Portfolio Ministers will; i) collaborate with Data and Digital Ministers to identify and progress national priority data areas for data sharing; and ii) advance and action data sharing activities within their portfolio responsibilities.
  3.  This Agreement will not override or supersede the data sharing provisions of other formal intergovernmental agreements or memoranda of understanding, which will remain the responsibility of the lead Portfolio Ministers for those agreements.
  4. Roles and responsibilities The Parties to this Agreement have the following roles and responsibilities to:
  5.  Where possible, use this Agreement to facilitate cross-jurisdictional data sharing
  6. Share data in accordance with the Data Sharing Principles
  7.  Guide data requesters and data custodians to meet the minimum information requirements
  8.  Use best endeavours to allocate adequate resources to data sharing priorities identified in the Work Program and business as usual data sharing, acknowledging each jurisdiction will make sovereign decisions on resourcing
  9. Identify and remove restrictions unnecessarily impeding lawful data sharing, including potential regulatory and administrative barriers
  10.  Respond to government requests for data access in a consistent and timely manner
  11.  Ensure that relevant Commonwealth, state and territory protective security requirements continue to apply to any Commonwealth, state and territory information shared under this Agreement
  12.  Ensure any shared identifiable data is handled in accordance with applicable Commonwealth, state and territory privacy laws, including the Privacy Act 1988 (Cwth).

The Commonwealth has responsibility for:

  1. The operation of the Agreement within the Australian Public Service
  2.  The design and oversight of nationally consistent data sharing policy. The States and Territories have responsibility for the operation of the Agreement within their jurisdictions; and l) working with other jurisdictions to identify and align common data requests where appropriate.

Commencement of this Agreement will occur as soon as the Agreement is signed by the Commonwealth and one other jurisdiction and will operate for all signatories unless revoked by the Parties.




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