Structure and Governance

The WA Data Linkage System (WADLS) was formally established in 1995 as a collaboration between the Department of Health WA, the University of Western Australia (UWA), Telethon Kids Institute (then the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research) and Curtin University.

Recognising the potential community benefit of using linked health data for research, the initial setup and operational costs of the WADLS were met through grant funding from the WA Lotteries Commission.

In 1997 the Department of Health WA took over as majority funder and the Data Linkage Unit (or Data Linkage Branch, now known as Data Linkage Services) was established.

For a more comprehensive understanding of the history of the WA Data Linkage System and linkage in Australia more generally, we recommend the following peer-reviewed articles:

  • Holman C et al (2008) A decade of data linkage in Western Australia: strategic design, applications and benefits of the WA data linkage system. Australian Health Review 32, 766-777.
  • Smith M, Flack F (2021) Data Linkage in Australia: The First 50 Years. Int J Environ Res Public Health. Oct 28;18(21):11339. https://doi: 10.3390/ijerph182111339.


Data Linkage Services is located within the Data and Information Systems business unit in the Information and System Performance Directorate at the Department of Health, reporting to the Assistant Director General, Purchasing and System Performance.

To find out more about the teams who support Data Linkage Services, please visit our About Us page.

For more detail on the structure of the Department of Health, please refer to the WA Health website.


Data Linkage Services has a robust governance structure, with both Research and Government-focused advisory committees and an Executive oversight body at the Western Australian Department of Health.

We are part of the Population Health Research Network (PHRN), an Australian Government collaboration that has built a nationwide data linkage infrastructure. The PHRN is an initiative of the Australian Government, conducted as part of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

The Department of Health is also an accredited Data Service Provider for Complex Data Integration and De-identification services under the Commonwealth DATA Scheme.