Introduction to the Special Issue on Big Data and Social Policy in Australia

Katherine Curchin*, Ben Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


    This Special Issue addresses the use of linked data for research purposes and to carry out government functions such as child protection, allocation of resources, and debt recovery. Government investment in big data has the potential to change citizens' experience of the welfare state in a broad range of areas in both positive and negative ways. It is therefore important that the Australian social policy community understands and engages with the potential benefits and risks involved in the linkage and analysis of government datasets. Papers in this Special Issue discuss the technical challenges and institutional barriers involved in the construction and governance of linked government data assets and showcase the promise of big data for generating policy relevant insights. This Special Issue also features papers critically interrogating the potential for big data to produce social harms. We contextualise this collection of papers with a brief history of recent policy developments in regards to access to government held data. We also discuss ways of improving public trust and social licence for the use of big data and argue that the voices of First Nations and disadvantaged Australians must be given greater weight in discussions of how their data will be used.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)132-142
    Number of pages11
    JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


    Dive into the research topics of 'Introduction to the Special Issue on Big Data and Social Policy in Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this