Data Consistency Project

What is the National Data Consistency Project?

The Data Consistency Project is a project run by CLCs Australia in collaboration with Community Legal Centres Queensland and working closely with the Victorian Federation of CLCs from June 2018 to December 2019.

The aim of the project is to ensure that:

  • CLCs collect, understand and use accurate and consistent data and information about the services they deliver, to inform their service planning and service provision decisions.
  • State, territory and national governments have reliable CLC data to use for the purposes of NPA as well as reporting and service planning - local, regional, and jurisdictional.

How did it come about?

In March 2017 we rolled out CLASS, a new client management database, to around 150 community legal centres and Family Violence Prevention Legal Services. CLASS was developed to be consistent with the new National Legal Assistance Data Standards Manual. You can find more information about CLASS here.

During 2017-2018, the CLASS Helpdesk noted that a large number of their inquiries related not so much to how to use CLASS, but more about trying to understand the Data Standards Manual. Some service types contained in the Data Standards Manual were familiar to Centres - Information, Referral, and Legal Advice - however Centres struggled to understand the new service types of Legal Task, Duty Lawyer, and the three new Representation Services.  Various states were attempting to seek clarification and achieve consistent data collection between Centres.

In July 2018, we received separate grants of funding from Legal Aid NSW and from the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department for a national Data Consistency Project. 

What are the project's main activities?

Phase 1 of the project (July 2018-December 2018) was to consult directly with community legal centres to understand how they were interpreting and recording particular types of interactions between Centres and clients. Over 40 Centres across all states and territories were interviewed or consulted. Consultations with Family Violence Prevention Legal Services are ongoing.

Phase 2 (December 2018 - February 2019) was to analyse the findings from our consultations. A presentation of our findings is available here. In January 2019 we provided feedback to the National Data Standards Working Group on suggested changes to the Data Standards Manual that would better clarify the definitions of particular service types.

Phase 3 (December 2018 - April 2019) was to develop this Data Consistency Guide, and to work on changes to CLASS and/or business rules that would ensure data is correctly counted and reported through CLASS (this work is ongoing). During this period we are continuing to discuss data standards with the Data Standards Working Group.

Phase 4 (April 2019 - July 2019) is to continue developing training resources and self-help tools that would ensure Centres are moving their data-entry practices to align with this Guide.

Phase 5 (July 2019 - February 2020) is to embed all training and resources relating to the Data Consistency Guide into CLASS Helpdesk and training resources, so that it becomes part of business as usual for the CLASS team. The Risk Management Guide will also be updated to align with any changes to definitions of service types. We will continue discussions with the Data Standards Working Group to ensure community legal centres' service types are accurately reflected in the Data Standards Manual.

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Page version history:
31 July  2019: Updated with updates to the dates for phases 4 and 5.
March 2019: First draft version published for consultation and feedback.