Before you start

Researchers are encourage to read the below information prior to submitting an application.

Researchers are also encouraged to attend a general information session to learn more about the NCIS.

Application process

The application process for access to Australian and New Zealand data in the NCIS differs. Researchers must select the appropriate application process to be considered. 

Contact us for more information if required.

 

Before you start

 

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for direct NCIS access, applicants must be a government agency, academic institution, research centre, public hospital, review committee or non-profit organisation, and have a:

  • bona fide interest in death and injury prevention or a statutory requirement to collect and publish data
  • clearly defined research topic or aim – general applications are not accepted.

Members of the public, the media and private organisations are not eligible to apply for direct NCIS access. Organisations with an interest in death and injury prevention may be eligible to request a data report

 

NCIS data

The data contained in the NCIS are sourced from the coronial file created as part of the investigation into the death of an individual. The database contains coded and non-coded data including demographic information about the deceased, contextual information about the nature of the fatality, full text copies of coronial findings, autopsy and toxicology reports, and police notification of death reports.

The NCIS is independent of the coronial system and does not form any part of the coronial investigation process. The NCIS is not intended to be a full replica of the coronial file. Therefore, it does not contain transcripts from inquests, photographic evidence or witness statements, non-fatal injury data or information about the perpetrator in assault cases

See explanatory notes for more details.

Identifying and non-identifying data 

The NCIS contains highly sensitive information about deceased persons. When making an application, researchers should be familiar with the following terms about identifying and non-identifying data and use these terms appropriately in their application.

 

Identifying data

Data where the identity of a specific individual can be reasonably ascertained from one, or a combination of data elements (including by reference to publicly available data sources) is considered to be identifying data.

Identifiable data elements include name, date of birth or residential address. In addition to the core data fields, the NCIS contains supporting documents such as the police reports, autopsy and toxicology reports and coroners findings, all of which contain identifying information about the deceased and potentially about next of kin or other persons, and are therefore classified as identifying data.

Example

A case record including the person’s name, date of birth and address. For example, John Smith, 01/01/1900, 123 Smith Street.

 

Potentially identifying data

Data where a data element, while not identifying on its own, when combined with other available data elements (within one or multiple cases) could potentially identify a specific individual is considered potentially identifying data.

Potentially identifying data elements includes age, sex, date or location of death. Contextual information such as time or location of death is also considered potentially identifying. Contextual data such as the location and mechanism of death are potentially identifying in areas where there is a low frequency of such deaths or a small population. Contextual data combined with demographic data such as sex or age range increase the possibility of the combination of data elements being potentially identifying.

Example

A cohort of cases with a low incidence in a specific region. For example, two deaths from jet-ski accidents in a small town

 

Re-identifiable data

Data from which identifiers such as name and date of birth have been removed and replaced by a code for the purpose of analysis or data linkage is considered re-identifiable data. The identifying data elements are retained and stored separately, making it possible to re-identify the data elements and ascertain the identity of a specific individual, if required.

Example

A case record where the identifying data elements are extracted by the researcher but removed for the purpose of analysis. For example, John Smith DOB 01/01/2000 is replaced with DE02331.

Scenario: A full record of the death of an individual is extracted and the identifying elements are replaced with a unique identifier so that only the mechanism and cause of death are used for research purposes. If necessary, the unique identifier can be used to re-identify the data

 

Non-identifiable data

Data elements which are non-identifying at the point of receipt and have never been labelled with individual identifiers, or data from which identifiers have been permanently removed, such that a specific individual cannot be identified from the data, are considered non-identifiable.

Example

A case record that does not contain identifying data elements and there is no way to link the case to the individual deceased person. For example, a record of the mechanism and cause of death only.

 

De-identified data

Data which contains at least one identifiable element in the original extract but from which the identifying elements such as name and date of birth have been removed for the purpose of analysis and interrogation.

De-identified data is often an intermediary step for data that will be either re-identifiable or non-identifiable at the end of the process. The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (External link) avoids the term ‘de-identified data’ as its meaning is unclear. Researchers using this term should pay extra attention to clarifying the meaning applied to it.

 

Anonymous data

The term anonymous is ambiguous and as such it should not be used when describing data. Use non-identifiable data as an alternative.

 

Access levels

Applicants are required to nominate which access level they are seeking as part of the application process.

Guidelines governing direct access to the NCIS were developed by the Australian and New Zealand State and Chief Coroners and have been endorsed by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. The guidelines provide for two levels of access:

  • Level 1: Access to all data related to closed cases – including case reports where available –and non-identifying access to open cases.
  • Level 2: Access to non-identifying data for closed cases only.

Applicants seeking Level 1 access must clearly outline why identifying information is required, and how the privacy and security of this sensitive information will be managed.

This guideline provides information about the different access levels and the type of data available.

Guide - Data access levels (PDF, 100.36 KB) (External link)

 

Human research ethics committee approval

Applications for both Australian and New Zealand data require proof of approval from their organisation's human research ethics committee (HREC) where one is available, in addition to ethics approval through the NCIS. 

 

Access agreements

Applicants approved by the Justice Human Research Ethics Committee (JHREC) or the Chief Coroner of New Zealand are required to enter into a NCIS access agreement with the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety (External link), on behalf of the NCIS Unit.

Once the access agreement is executed by both parties, all users are required to sign confidentiality undertakings.

User logins will be used to each approved online users only once the agreement is executed.

 

Fees

There is an annual fee for direct NCIS access that is determined based on the applying organisation’s type and the number of online users requested. The fee is applicable to each year a project seeks to have direct system access. The NCIS Unit provides fee information during the application process.

Applicable fees are discussed as part of the application process.

An initial invoice will be issued within four to six weeks of the access agreement being executed. Further invoices will be sent on an annual basis.

 

Timeframes

It is recommended that applicants submit their applications to the NCIS Unit as early as possible. While all applications for Australian data received by the closing date will be considered, any submissions that require significant changes or further advice on use of NCIS data may be moved to the following round. Applications for New Zealand data may also have a longer review timeframe if changes or advice are required.

If applicants want to commence NCIS access by a certain date, early submission of their application will ensure enough time to respond to feedback and update applications if needed.

 

Enquiries and application assistance 

The NCIS Unit provides assistance throughout the application process, including initial enquiries to determine eligibility and feasibility.

Your project number (when available) should be included in all communications.

To submit a request

Email the following information to ncis@ncis.org.au (External link):

  • project number (where available)
  • details of your enquiry.

 

Apply to access Australian data 

Application overview and timeframes

The application process is:

  1. Intention to apply received by NCIS Unit
  2. Application received by the NCIS Unit
  3. NCIS Unit reviews application and provides feedback or requests further information if required
  4. Updated and final application received by the NCIS Unit
  5. NCIS Unit completes internal assessment for endorsement to submit to the NCIS Research Committee (NRC)
  6. Application considered by the NRC
  7. NRC outcome provided to applicant with further instructions as required
  8. Justice Human Research Ethics Committee (JHREC) reviews and provides a decision. Further information may also be sought from the applicant
  9. Approved applications enter into a NCIS Access agreement.

The time frame for obtaining NCIS access generally ranges from eight to ten weeks onwards from the time of submission and is dependent on the number of approvals required.

 

Standard reviewing committees

 

NCIS Research Committee

All applications are considered by the NCIS Research Committee (NRC) for endorsement.

Applications submitted to the Justice Human Research Ethics Committee (JHREC) must include the NRC letter of support.

Copies of NRC approval letters and final applications are sent to applicants for their records.

 

Justice Human Research Ethics Committee

Research applications seeking access to Australian data held in the NCIS are reviewed by the Victorian Justice Human Research Ethics Committee (External link) (JHREC) as the NCIS' nominated home ethics committee. All applicants seeking access to Australian data are encouraged to read the JHREC guidelines (External link). See Apply to access Australian data for more information.

All projects approved by JHREC are required to submit annual progress report to the JHREC as a condition of approved access.

 

Submission dates

Closing dates are final. Submissions received after close of business of the closing date will be moved to the next round.

2024 submission dates 

NCIS submission closing date NRC meeting date JHREC meeting date Further information
8 November 2023 29 November 2023 1 February 2024 Guide - Submitting applications to the JHREC - 1 February 2024 (PDF, 164.89 KB) (External link)
10 January 2024 31 January 2024 21 March 2024 Guide - Submitting applications to the JHREC - 21 March 2024 (PDF, 164.69 KB) (External link)
21 February 2024 13 March 2024 9 May 2024 Guide - Submitting applications to the JHREC - 9 May 2024 (PDF, 164.8 KB) (External link)
10 April 2024 1 May 2024 20 June 2024 Guide - Submitting applications to the JHREC - 20 June 2024 (PDF, 164.5 KB) (External link)
22 May 2024 12 June 2024 1 August 2024 Guide - Submitting applications to the JHREC - 1 August 2024 (PDF, 164.66 KB) (External link)
3 July 2024 24 July 2024 12 September 2024 Guide - Submitting applications to the JHREC - 12 September 2024 (PDF, 165.41 KB) (External link)
14 August 2024 4 September 2024 24 October 2024 Guide - Submitting applications to the JHREC - 24 October 2024 (PDF, 165.54 KB) (External link)
25 September 2024 16 October 2024 5 December 2024

Guide - Submitting applications to the JHREC - 5 December 2024 (PDF, 165.03 KB) (External link)

 

 

Additional review requirements

 

Access to Victorian data

Applications seeking access to Victorian data must be considered by the Coroners Court of Victoria Research Committee (CCoVRC) and endorsed by the Victorian State Coroner. This must occur prior to submission to the JHREC.

CCoVRC uses the NCIS third party research and JHREC application forms.

The NCIS Unit reviews all applications in the first instance and provides feedback prior to submission to the CCoVRC. The NCIS Unit advises applicants when their application is ready for submission to the CCoVRC.

Applicants are responsible for submission to the CCoVRC.

The NCIS Unit provides advice about this requirement through the application process. 

 

Access to Tasmanian data

Applications seeking access to Tasmanian data must also be considered by the Tasmanian Magistrates Court - Coronial Division and receive endorsement prior to submission to the JHREC. The Tasmanian Magistrates Court - Coronial Division review occurs as part of the NRC.

The Tasmanian Magistrates Court - Coronial Division uses the NCIS third party research and JHREC application forms.

The NCIS Unit reviews all applications in the first instance and provides feedback prior to submission to the Tasmanian Magistrates Court - Coronial Division. The NCIS Unit facilitates submission to the Tasmanian Magistrates Court - Coronial Division on behalf of applicants.

The NCIS Unit provides advice about this requirement through the application process. 

 

Access to Western Australian data

As of 13 October 2023, submission to the Western Australian Coronial Ethics Committee (WACEC) for access to Western Australian data is no longer required. 

 

Submit an application

 

Submit an intention to apply 

Submitting an intention to apply is the first step in the application process. This provides an opportunity for researchers to indicate the data they are interested in and why, and to ask questions that will help in preparing an application. The NCIS Unit may also provide initial feedback regarding eligibility and data availability. 

To submit an intention to apply

Email the following information to ncis@ncis.org.au (External link):

  • organisation details
  • project summary
  • any questions.
 

Application forms

The  Justice Human Research Ethics Committee (JHREC) application form (External link) must be completed for all requests related to projects accessing Australian data in the NCIS.

 

Submit an application

To submit an application for access to Australian data email the following to ncis@ncis.org.au (External link):

  • completed NCIS third party research application form
  • completed JHREC application form
  • indemnity certificate
  • HREC approval (if applicable).

Additional supporting documents may also be included with the initial application. 

The NCIS Unit will complete an initial application review and provide information on next steps.

 

Approved projects - next steps

Approved applicants must enter into a NCIS Access agreement before access is granted.

A project induction session will be run by the NCIS Unit. It is expected that all approved researchers attend.

An invoice will be issued for the first year of access. All invoices are issued by the Victorian Department of Justice and Community as the NCIS' host jurisdiction. 

Further research project support is available. 

 

Apply to access New Zealand data 

All applications for access to New Zealand data must receive approval by the New Zealand Chief Coroner.

Application overview and timeframes

The application process is:

  1. Intention to apply received by NCIS Unit
  2. Application received by the NCIS Unit
  3. NCIS Unit reviews application and provides feedback or requests further information if required
  4. Updated and final application received by the NCIS Unit
  5. NCIS Unit completes internal assessment for endorsement to submit to the New Zealand Chief Coroner
  6. New Zealand Chief Coroner reviews and provides a decision. Further information may also be sought from the applicant during this stage
  7. Approved applications enter into a NCIS Access agreement.

The process typically takes about four weeks from application submission to coronial decision. Finalising the access agreement takes up to four weeks.

Submission dates

Applications for access to New Zealand data may be submitted to the NCIS Unit at any time.

 

Submit an intention to apply

Submitting an intention to apply is the first step in the application process. This provides an opportunity for researchers to indicate the data they are interested and why, and to ask questions that will help in preparing an application. The NCIS Unit may also provide initial feedback regarding eligibility and data availability. 

To submit an intention to apply

Email the following information to ncis@ncis.org.au (External link):

  • organisation details
  • project summary
  • any questions.
 

Submit an application

To submit an application for access to New Zealand data email the following to ncis@ncis.org.au (External link):

  • completed application form
  • indemnity certificate
  • HREC approval (if applicable).

Additional supporting documents may also be included with the initial application. 

The NCIS Unit will complete an initial application review and provide information on next steps.

 

Approved projects - next steps

Approved applicants must enter into a NCIS Access agreement before access is granted.

A project induction session will be run by the NCIS Unit. It is expected that all approved researchers attend.

An invoice will be issued for the first year of access. All invoices are issued by the Victorian Department of Justice and Community as the NCIS' host jurisdiction. 

Further research project support is available.