AIHW wins global award for mapping suicide and self-harm data

Tuesday, 20 July, 2021

AIHW wins global award for mapping suicide and self-harm data

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has been selected from more than 300,000 global organisations to receive an award for a digital project to monitor incidents of suicide and self-harm across the Australian population.

The Esri Special Achievement in GIS Award recognises the institute’s innovative use of geographic information system (GIS) technology to pioneer new ways of analysing and sharing public health data.

As part of the Australian-first project, the institute created a series of interactive digital maps that improved access to geographic data across the spectrum of suicide behaviours, allowing users to better understand the distribution of population and community level risk.

This application of GIS technology enables people to access and visualise critical data relating to suicide and self-harm deaths and hospitalisations — alongside other data monitoring ambulance attendances and coronial registers.

The solution supports the Australian Government’s $2.3 billion commitment to mental health and suicide prevention programs.

The project offers all Australians a baseline understanding of geographic and demographic risk factors — giving real-world context to the government’s prevention strategies.

It ensures vital information is available for communities to make data-driven service delivery decisions and implement timely and effective interventions.

Esri Australia National Business Manager Lisa Dykes said the AIHW’s solution will serve as an important framework for other health agencies to share crucial information with the public.

“Increasingly, GIS technology is being used by the health sector as a tool for communicating complex issues that span cities, states and countries,” Dykes said.

“Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Johns Hopkins mapping app received over 1 billion hits from people eager to stay across the situation as it unfolded.

“With the institute’s award-winning work, for the first time, Australians have access to a national and connected picture of critical data on suicide and self-harm which will serve as a ‘best practice’ approach for other areas of the public health system.”

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