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This chapter provides an overview of public affairs activities, including the provision to policy makers and the public of messages arising from the AIHW's data on health and welfare.
The chapter focuses on the AIHW's strategic direction 'Improve the availability of information for the community and our stakeholders' through:
Improving the availability of information
The AIHW’s website
Exhibiting at conferences
The AIHW is proud to provide a comprehensive range of hospital performance related information, but we know that there is always room for improvement.
That is why, in early 2011, the Institute undertook an external stakeholder review of its Australian hospital statistics suite of products to ensure their continued relevance to the intended audience and to identify possible improvements.
This suite offers performance information and other statistics about public and private hospitals in Australia.
More than 70 stakeholders were interviewed as part of the review—from state and territory health authorities, Australian Government agencies, public and private hospitals, the media and other health-related organisations—all users and providers of AIHW data.
The Australian hospital statistics products were considered to contain valuable information by their users, were frequently accessed and well respected. A range of possible improvements were suggested and stakeholders noted that the earliest possible reporting was fundamental to ensuring the relevance of the products.
The AIHW will implement changes to the Australian hospital statistics suite of products progressively in response to the findings of the review. For example, more time series information is to be included in the publication on emergency department care and elective surgery waiting times for 2010-11, to be published in late 2011.
The Australian hospital statistics suite of products accompany the information presented on the MyHospitals website, providing national and state and territory views of the MyHospitals information.
The AIHW is committed to further improving the quality, relevance and timeliness of the Australian hospital statistics products to better suit the needs of stakeholders.
The AIHW communicates its information and data to the public, and its stakeholders and clients, in a variety of ways. The AIHW's website and methods of online communication are becoming increasingly important.
The AIHW is committed to making its work widely accessible and easy to understand, consistent with its strategic direction (SD5) 'Getting the messages out better'. All publications are available free in full text on the AIHW website. Hard copies are also available.
The AIHW releases all publications in Portable Document Format (PDF) and Rich Text Format (RTF). The latter is tailored for people with vision impairment who use special screen-reader technology to read text on websites. All AIHW report summaries are also published in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which is accessible to screen readers.
As part of the AIHW's commitment to improving information for the community and its stakeholders, it produced Australia's health 2010: in brief, an attractive, consumer-friendly 60-page version of its biennial report to the nation, Australia's health 2010. Produced at the end of 2009–10 and distributed during 2010–11, the 'in brief' document provides highlights from the main report in a highly graphical format, and 'shows the story' that they tell about health, and health spending and services, in Australia. These were distributed in free class sets to secondary schools that bought copies of the main 600-page report. This initiative was backed up by education worksheets on the education pages of the AIHW website, together with an online slide presentation and interactive downloadable online quizzes based on the booklet.
The feedback received from teachers, academics and government agencies has been highly positive. Demand for the booklet has been so strong that it was reprinted late in the year, just one year into a two-year shelf life.
The AIHW also produced the following publications in new community-friendly formats during 2010–11:
The AIHW continued to evaluate the effectiveness of its publications through short online reader surveys. Feedback was very favourable, with 93% of respondents considering the AIHW's publications to be 'quite clearly written' or 'very clearly written', 89% finding them 'quite useful' or 'very useful', and 72% saying they found the level of detail 'about right'.
Feedback was also sought on the effectiveness of the MyHospitals website via an external evaluation report. Data for this review were sourced from the website and call centre statistics, a scan of social media conversations referring to the site, and an online survey of internet users in Australia to measure awareness and usage. The review found that while MyHospitals is yet to develop a sustained high public profile, those who have visited the site were largely satisfied with the experience, and credibility was high.
The AIHW also engaged Health Policy Analysis in 2010–11 to undertake consultations with key stakeholders to review the Australian hospital statistics suite of products. Overall, the products were found to be extremely valuable, highly accessed and well respected. Several recommendations were put forward to further enhance their value to users and these will be taken into account in producing next year's suite of outputs (see the 'snapshot').
'Getting the messages out better', for the community and our stakeholders, was a key strategic direction for the AIHW during the year. Enhancing the writing abilities of AIHW staff is essential to achieving this objective.
AIHW staff are offered a number of writing and communications courses and seminars designed to further develop their ability to express complex statistical ideas in concise, clear, reader-friendly language. In 2010–11, 54 AIHW staff attended the 'Writing Skills' course, 26 attended 'Statistical Writing Skills', 6 attended 'Web Writing Skills', 46 attended grammar workshops and 9 undertook courses to help enhance their presentation skills.
A Writing for the Web Guide has been produced for use in conjunction with 'Writing for the web' training courses to enhance the quality of internet and intranet content.
In conjunction with the AIHW branding guide, work has begun on a new Web Style Guide to ensure branding consistency across the AIHW website.
During 2010–11, a new customer care charter was agreed upon by the AIHW Board (see the 'snapshot' below).
The AIHW recently adopted a new customer care charter, which outlines our service commitment to clients.
The charter outlines the AIHW's standards for responding to requests for information and how we make information and data available and accessible.
The charter also reinforces our commitment to privacy in the collection, handling, use and disclosure of personal information.
It provides information on how clients can make complaints, give feedback and obtain further information about AIHW products.
View the charter online at www.aihw.gov.au/customer-care-charter/.
The AIHW offers various email notification services through its website for anyone wishing to receive notices of the release of AIHW publications. Subscriptions to these notices have increased significantly in 2010–11 to over 12,000. The most significant increase in notice subscriptions has been for AIHW Access, the AIHW's long-established magazine, which was made available in a new online format for the first time in 2009–10 (Table 13). There was also continued strong growth in members of the public seeking education resources (see 'Education resources') and employment information.
In 2010–11, the AIHW released 135 publications, accompanied by 71 media releases, as well as many other forms of information and statistics, such as posters, fact sheets, web-optimised 'snapshots' and online datasets. This was a 15% increase on the 119 publications produced in 2009–10 (see Figure 1). The overall publishing trend in recent years has been steadily upwards.
The AIHW's flagship health publication—Australia's health 2010 and the accompanying summary publication—Australia's health 2010: in brief—were the best-selling publications for 2010–11. Australian hospital statistics 2009–10 was also very popular in sales terms, although being released only nine weeks before the end of 2010–11.
To enhance the sales of its flagship publications, the AIHW developed pre-release marketing campaigns to target specific government and non-government organisations as well as the education sector, resulting in increases in overall sales.
Figure 9: Visits to the AIHW website, 2001–02 to 2010–11
For every two Australians, one will develop cancer.
For every five, one will die of the disease before the age of 85 years.
Cancer has a greater overall impact on the health of Australians than any other disease, which is why the AIHW's bi-annual Cancer in Australia series of reports are of such relevance.
The most recent release in this series is Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2010 which features enhanced presentation of information and statistics. The report now offers a better context for statistical data and provides more commentary.
The general format of the report reflects the AIHW's assessment of the information requirements of the audience for this publication. This includes known risk factors for cancer, chances of developing cancer, differences across regions and population groups and survival rates.
For the first time, the report was released with a companion summary document, Cancer in Australia: in brief, 2010. This companion report was designed to make it easier to access information on cancer statistics quickly and easily. It presents cancer information for 2007 in a question-and answer format, and advises where to find more information.
The AIHW's major communication medium is its website. The site received nearly 1.4 million visits in 2010–11, a 5.5% increase on visits in 2009–10 (over 1.3 million) (Figure 9).
Table 14 lists the most popular publications downloaded from the Institute's website during 2010–11. Australia's health 2010 was the leading publication downloaded. For those publications released during the financial year, the ranking may not be based on full-year figures, that is, the figures relate to the period between the publication's release date until 30 June in the year in question.
*Released during the financial year on the date shown.
In 2010-11, www.aihw.gov.au was relaunched with all-new branding, content, design and graphics, made possible following the purchase of a new Content Management System (CMS). The CMS has reduced duplicate input, thereby improving efficiency and consistency of information across the site. New features—such as collaborative authoring—will be implemented throughout the coming year.
Work is underway to update the AIHW intranet, using new technology, based on feedback and input from AIHW staff.
During the year the AIHW developed some new product types and continued support to existing ones.
The AIHW continued to develop the education resource area of its website by adding a set of worksheets featuring highlights from Australia's welfare 2009 and Australia's health 2010. Worksheets were also developed for specific subjects in response to requests from teachers.
Subscriber numbers to the automatic email notification education service rose by 83% over the year (see Table 13), largely due to new links established with the Home Economics Victoria (HEV) Teaching Association, the AIHW's ongoing relationship with the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER), and word-of-mouth recommendations by teachers.
Building on these relationships, the AIHW was asked to present a plenary session to 1,500 Year 12 students at the Victorian Certificate of Education Health and Human Development Student Day Out in August 2010; provide an education package for the Victorian teachers of Health and Human Development professional development day in February 2011; and present a session at the International ACHPER conference in Adelaide in April 2011.
Following on from these presentations, the AIHW has been asked to present at future Victorian Education and state level ACHPER conferences.
The targeted education marketing campaign undertaken from June to December 2010 has shown positive results, with 5,000 copies of the Australia's health 2010: in brief booklet distributed to schools, TAFEs and universities around Australia.
The AIHW encourages feedback and suggestions from users about its education resources through its exclusive education email contact point at email education.
In 2010–11, the AIHW received about 250 emails from schools, TAFEs and universities requesting copies of reports, information, and/or providing worksheet suggestions through its education email channel. It also received more than 200 individual student enquiries through its generic email info email channel.
Thank you for organising the PowerPoints and quiz on Australia's health. They are a great resource for our Year 12 students.Skye, Pymble Ladies College, New South Wales
Thanks for your PowerPoints and the excellent information. It is so relevant and helpful to many projects and departments in the NT and will be heavily perused.Anne Goodman, Education Advisor - Health and Wellbeing, Northern Territory Department of Education and Training
Thanks for the great worksheets—yes, it certainly fast tracks accessing data. A suggestion to extend your worksheets ... Students are often asked to analyse data. It is a very valuable skill for exams. It would be great if you could add some questions (with access to correct answers) with each worksheet so students could practise their analytical skills. This will further their understanding of the data.Wendy Hewitt, PE Teacher, Warracknabeal Secondary College, Victoria
The AIHW issued 71 media releases in 2010–11, up from 56 releases in 2009–10 (Table 15). This largely reflects the increase in the number of published reports for the year, as well as more announcements and launches, such as the MyHospitals website and Indigenous Observatory launches.
Generally media coverage of the AIHW's products is neutral or positive.
Overall media coverage rose slightly in 2010–11, increasing across all mediums compared with 2009–10, except for radio and television. This may be due to the increasing shift towards online news, with a 22% increase in online news coverage since 2009–10.
AIHW reports and events receiving the most media coverage during the year are listed in Table 16.
The launch of the MyHospitals website attracted the most media coverage for the AIHW in 2010–11, accounting for more than 10% of all media coverage throughout the year (see the 'snapshot').
The report Trends in serious injury due to land transport accidents, Australia was the most successful individual AIHW report in terms of media coverage. This report went 'viral' online due largely to a news story with the theme 'middle-aged men at most risk on two wheels' and received more than 150 online mentions.
Australian hospital statistics 2009–10 (see the 'snapshot') and Cancer in Australia 2010 (see the 'snapshot') were the next most successful reports and received greater coverage in the more traditional media (print, radio and television) than the report Trends in serious injury due to land transport accidents, Australia.
During 2010-2011, the AIHW sought an external review of its media embargo policies and practices.
*Released during the financial year on the date shown.
The AIHW's MyHospitals website was launched on 10 December 2010 and received significant interest from the general public as well as the media.
The AIHW's Communications, Media and Marketing Unit examined the types of media coverage that the MyHospitals site received, particularly online, including any coverage before the website was launched, and all the news coverage following the launch.
Of the 173 online articles that were reviewed from December 2010 to February 2011, 72 articles or 42% of the total, were positive towards the website, describing prominently its benefits or features.
Forty articles, or 23%, were classified as negative—for example, the article focused on criticism of the website or the validity of the data.
A further 35% of articles were rated as 'neutral'— most described results for a specific hospital, city or state, but did not discuss the 'good' or 'bad' aspects of the website; alternatively, the article presented both sides of any argument equally.
The existing policies had been in place for many years, and the review was conducted with the objective of ensuring their continued relevance and effectiveness.
Following extensive consultation with various external stakeholders (including Ministers' offices and members of the press), the AIHW Board approved the decision to retain current media embargo policy, including the default 1am release time and the media embargo period of 48 hours. The policy has been slightly amended to allow the embargo period to be reduced to 24 hours in individual cases.
The Board has also approved retaining the existing sanctions for journalists who break an embargo (6 months denial of prior access to AIHW reports and media releases).
In order to ensure the consistency and quality of its public 'face', the AIHW has adopted new policies for the selection of media spokespeople.
For flagship publications—as well as selected others—the Director is the key spokesperson, with Group Heads (or Unit Heads, with Director's approval) handling major—but not flagship—reports. The Head of the Governance and Communications Group or Head of the Communications, Media and Marketing Unit will be the spokespersons for other publications. Where appropriate, the Director may delegate these duties to other subject experts.
Each year, the AIHW exhibits at a range of conferences. Professional conferences provide important marketing opportunities for the Institute to promote its publications, website and other services to a wider audience.
In 2010–11, staff organised promotional booths and related activities at the:
The AIHW is considered as a reliable information source by members of parliament. The AIHW was cited 30 times during 2010–11 in the Hansards of both Houses of the Australian Parliament. (Table 17).
During the year, the Director appeared before the Senate Community Affairs Committee Additional, Budget and Supplementary Estimates hearings for the Health and Ageing portfolio. Responses were supplied to 25 questions on notice arising from these hearings.
The AIHW provided several submissions to parliamentary or government inquiries during the year, as follows: