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About Us

The Centre for Health Record Linkage (CHeReL) is dedicated to helping researchers, planners and policy makers access linked health data about people in the NSW and ACT. We host a secure, high performing data linkage system - one of the largest of its kind in Australia - which facilitates high-quality research and health policy decisions.

Connecting the dots for health care in NSW and the ACT

Throughout our lives, information about our health and the care we receive is recorded. Much of this information is securely stored at separate points in the health system, such as in databases at hospitals, health departments and other organisations that provide health care. The CHeReL enables this data to be sourced and joined together securely using record linkage, a process that brings together information from different databases about the same individual, family, place or event. This process creates a chronological sequence of health events or individual 'health story' that can be combined into a much larger story about the health of people in NSW and the ACT. This information can be used for research projects and to plan and improve health services across the population.

Why is linking health data important?

Record linkage allows a more complete picture of the health of the population than was previously possible. The information can be used to study:

  • the safety, quality and costs of health care by linking information on different treatments with outcomes such as emergency department visits, admissions to hospital and deaths
  • the relationships among personal, economic and lifestyle factors and health through linking data from research studies and surveys with outcomes such as emergency department visits, admissions to hospital, cancer notifications and deaths
  • societal and community influences on health by linking health data with information from other agencies, such as education and community services.
we offer high quality data linkage services
from a wide range of industries
beneficial for researchers, government and health planners

Who can benefit from the CHeReL's services?

The CHeReL provides high quality data linkage services and has used data from the health, education, human services, justice and transport sectors to enable research and evaluation. Services are supported by the CHeReL's core record linkage system (the Master Linkage Key), which currently contains pointers to over 328 million records relating to more than 18 million people, making it one of the largest systems of linked personal information from health-related databases in Australia. This vast resource can be beneficial for researchers, government and health planners.

Researchers - accessing linked data that already exists is relatively quick and cost-effective compared to doing a research study from the beginning. Record linkage provides data for whole populations, minimising bias and creating data that would be prohibitively expensive to collect in any other way. Researchers accessing data through the CHeReL can also test and develop their research on existing data, allowing better targeting of funding for new research.

Policy makers - linked data allows the public health system to better identify issues of population health importance, plan services and interventions to address these issues, and monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of services and interventions.

To find out more about how the CHeReL can assist you please email us at

about how CHeReL can assist you

Our mission is to create and sustain a record linkage infrastructure for the health and human services sectors, and provide access to these resources to bona fide researchers and health planners and policy makers.  The aims of the CHeReL are to:

  • facilitate research that may contribute to the promotion, protection and maintenance of the health of the public;
  • facilitate the planning, evaluation and delivery of health services;
  • support activities related to the above aims across the full spectrum of health;
  • contribute to knowledge regarding research methods relating to health data collection, linkage of health-related data and compilation and use of health related statistics generally; and
  • allow the outcomes of activities related to the above aims to be available for the benefit of the public and to contribute to knowledge on an open and equitable basis.

The functions of the CHeReL are to:

  • carry out linkage of health-related data in accordance with all ethical, legal, privacy and confidentiality requirements; and
  • provide a mechanism for access to these linked data for purposes which fulfil the aims of the CHeReL.


The CHeReL is managed by the NSW Ministry of Health. The manager of the CHeReL reports to the Deputy Secretary, Population and Public Health and Chief Health Officer through the Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence.

Other organisations may become members of the CHeReL and participate in the Data Linkage Advisory Committee. The Data Linkage Advisory Committee plays a key role in providing advice to the NSW Ministry of Health on the CHeReL's strategic plan, the development of record linkage infrastructure and services, and the use of linked data to enhance policy-relevant research and inform policy and practice.

CHeReL Community Advisory Committee

The Community Advisory Committee will provide advice to the Centre for Health Record Linkage (CHeReL) Manager on issues of community interest in the operation of the CHeReL, including:

  • a communication strategy for information to be provided to the community;
  • procedures for responding to complaints from the community or other concerns that may be raised by the community ;
  • whether proposed projects are likely to be in the public benefit or not, where this is not immediately clear;
  • the strategic and business plans of the CHeReL;
  • policies and procedures of the CHeReL;
  • any other issues that are of concern to the Community Advisory Committee members or NSW Ministry of Health.

Current members of the Community Advisory Committee are:                                                                                 

Ms Louise Sylvan (Chair), Ms Narelle Bell, Dr Catherine Burrows, Dr Jan Herbert, Ms Megan Lavender, Ms Roxane Marcelle-Shaw, Ms Karen McMahon, Dr Lee Taylor and Dr Russell Taylor.

Members are recruited following open advertisements placed in Sydney and Canberra newspapers and are selected based on the following criteria:

  • interest in health and health services research at a population level
  • interest in the work of the CHeReL
  • experience in a role as a consumer representative or a role that is relevant to the work of the CHeReL
  • ability to communicate with researchers, management and other committee members
  • ability to participate in regular meetings.

Committee members are not selected as consumer representatives or advocates for any specific group or organisation. They are selected on individual merit and capacity to contribute to the CHeReL.

Members are appointed for one year, with possible extension to a maximum of four years. They are not offered remuneration but are reimbursed for reasonable travel expenses to attend meetings.

The Community Advisory Committee meets three times per year. Members freely contribute their knowledge, experience and perspective to committee considerations. In addition there may be occasions where it is appropriate for a member to garner opinion, advice, and/or perspectives from others in the community.


Since its establishment in 2006, the CHeReL's linkage system and expertise have become core infrastructure for research, population health surveillance and health system performance monitoring.  The CHeReL has established and maintained relationships with a wide range of research and government organisations, fostering collaborative investment in the CHeReL and efficient use of research infrastructure funds in NSW.

The CHeReL is progressively incorporating core administrative data collections for NSW and ACT into the Master Linkage Key (MLK).  As at July 2018 there are:

164 million records

The MLK contains pointers to over 164 million records from 24 datasets for more than 14 million individuals.  New data collections are being added over time and demand for record linkage services continues to grow.

210 additional datasets linked

More than 210 additional datasets have been linked on request, ranging from public laboratory, toxicology and screening data, to administrative data from other sectors such as transport, justice, community services and primary research data collections of cohort or trial participants.

2157 users

There are 2157 researchers, evaluators and policy makers using our services.

Over 514 publications

Users of our data have published over 514 peer-reviewed publications listed on the Publications page.





The NSW Ministry of Health funds the core operations of the CHeReL.  Member organisations may enter into a funding agreement with the CHeReL whereby the Member organisation pays an annual fee and investigators from the organisation are entitled to discounted linkage services.

The CHeReL is part of the Population Health Research Network (PHRN), Australia’s first national data linkage network. The PHRN is an initiative of Australian government being conducted as part of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).       


Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images or names of deceased people.

This website contains information, data, documents, pages and images prepared by the Centre for Health Record Linkage ("the Information").

The Information is protected by copyright.

The Information contained in this website includes information derived from various third parties which is neither endorsed nor supported by the Centre for Health Record Linkage and does not necessarily reflect any policies, procedures, standards or guidelines of the Centre for Health Record Linkage.

Whilst the Information contained in this website has been presented with all due care, the Centre for Health Record Linkage does not warrant or represent that the Information is free from errors or omission.

The Information is made available on the understanding that the Centre for Health Record Linkage and its employees and agents shall have no liability (including liability by reason of negligence) to the users for any loss, damage, cost or expense incurred or arising by reason of any person using or relying on the information and whether caused by reason of any error, negligent act, omission or misrepresentation in the Information or otherwise.

Furthermore, whilst the Information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of the Information. The Information may change without notice and the Centre for Health Record Linkage is not in any way liable for the accuracy of any information printed and stored or in any way interpreted and used by a user.

The Centre for Health Record Linkage takes no responsibility for the accuracy, currency, reliability and correctness of any information included in the Information provided by third parties nor for the accuracy, currency, reliability and correctness of links or references to information sources (including Internet sites) outside of the Centre for Health Record Linkage. Links to other Internet sites are not under the control of the Centre for Health Record Linkage and are provided for information only. Although care has been taken in providing these links as suitable reference resources, due to the changing nature of the Internet content, it is the responsibility of the users to make their own investigations, decisions and enquiries about the information retrieved from other Internet sites. Provision of these links does not imply any endorsement, non-endorsement, support or commercial gain by the Centre for Health Record Linkage.

© Copyright - CHeReL All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form or transmitted to any other person without the prior written permission of the Centre for Health Record Linkage, except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (as amended). In particular, the user of the Information agrees:

  • to retrieve documents for information only;
  • to save or print a single copy for personal use only and not to reproduce any major extract or the entire document except as permitted under Copyright Act 1968 (as amended) without the prior written permission of the Centre for Health Record Linkage;
  • to acknowledge the source of any selected passage, table diagram or other extract reproduced;
  • not to make any charge for providing the Information to another person or organisation without the prior written consent and payment of an agreed copyright fee;
  • not to modify the Information without the express prior written permission; and
  • to include this copyright notice and disclaimer in any copy made.

This Disclaimer is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of the Centre for Health Record Linkage. This Disclaimer is designated to this website.


An individual's right to privacy as established under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 is respected by the CHeReL and protected. The CHeReL does not allow the publication of information that may identify individuals, or might potentially identify them.

Links to other websites, external to the CHeReL, are sometimes included in web pages for the convenience of website users, but the CHeReL does not have any responsibility for the privacy practices of third party websites linked to the CHeReL.

Is information collected about your website visit?

Visitor logs are used on this website for statistical purposes and administrative purposes only.

What does the CHeReL do with personal information provided in feedback?

Email addresses provided to this website will only be used to respond to enquiries and will not be added to mailing lists, or disclosed to any other party without the user's consent, unless required to do so by law. Personal information will be kept in safe custody, sufficient to prevent unauthorised access, and will be properly handled to ensure its safety, integrity and confidentiality. Circumstances in which the CHeReL may be required to disclose this information to a law enforcement agency include:

  • unauthorised tampering or interference with files published on the CHeReL website;
  • unauthorised attempts to access files which are not published on the CHeReL website;
  • attempts to intercept messages of other users of the CHeReL website;
  • communications which are defamatory, abusive, vilify individuals or give rise to a suspicion that an offence is being committed;
  • attempts to otherwise compromise the security of the web server; and
  • breach the laws of the State of NSW or the Commonwealth of Australia.

Do you want to know more about how your privacy is protected?

The CHeReL observes the information privacy principles set out in The Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 when collecting and dealing with any personal information.

If you have a general privacy enquiry or complaint regarding the CHeReL, please contact:

The Privacy Officer
Legal Branch
NSW Ministry of Health

Locked Mail Bag 961
North Sydney NSW 2059

Phone: (02) 9391 9606
Fax: (02) 9391 9604


This statement refers to content available on the CHeReL website.  We have endeavoured to ensure that this website and its content is available to the widest possible audience, including readers using assistive technology or accessibility features. As at November 30 2016 the website satisfies WCAG 2.0 Level AA. 

By adhering to guidelines for accessible web design, we acknowledge the diversity of communication methods, available technologies and abilities of web-users in the community. 

Open Access Information

For information about open access information please see the relevant pages from the website of the NSW Ministry of Health which manages the CHeReL:

NSW Health - Right to Information Access

We pay respect to the Traditional Custodians and First Peoples of NSW, and acknowledge their continued connection to their country and culture.