About the Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System

The Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System (HWSS) is the largest and longest running household survey in Western Australia. It has been running continuously since its establishment in 2002.

Every month approximately 700 Western Australians are randomly selected from a range of sources including the WA Electoral Roll and Consumer Databases to complete the survey online or over the telephone.

This survey helps us to identify trends in health and wellbeing and the aggregated results is used by the  Department of Health and other state and local authorities to inform policies, services and the allocation of resources.  

If you participate in this survey, your information will be de-identified and stored securely. Any analysis of your data will be combined with thousands of other responses, guaranteeing your anonymity and confidentiality.

By taking part in the HWSS survey, you will actively contribute to improving our understanding of health and wellbeing in WA, and ultimately shaping a healthy WA.

Privacy and confidentiality

If you choose to participate in the Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System (HWSS), protecting your privacy is one our greatest priorities.

The following procedures have been put in place to ensure the privacy of HWSS survey respondents.

  • For mailing lists, only name and address are  provided to the contracted data collection agency – currently Edith Cowan University Survey Research Centre (ECU SRC). No other identifying information is supplied. Mailing lists are sent by the Department of Health to the contracted data collection agency by secure, encrypted email.
  • All mailing lists supplied by the Department of Health to the contracted data collection agency are destroyed upon completion of the annual survey reporting cycle. Written confirmation of sample list destruction is supplied to the Department of Health annually.
  • All contracted data collection agency staff working on the HWSS are trained in issues related to ethics and respondent confidentiality before working on the HWSS and sign a binding confidentiality agreement that is enforceable even after they cease employment with the agency. These agreements are supplied to the Department of Health.
  • Data collected by the data collection agency is transferred to the Department of Health via secure and encrypted email.
  • All HWSS data and related information is stored on a secure server accessible only to Department of Health staff who work on the HWSS.
  • Only summary statistics using aggregated data are reported, we never report on individual-level data.
  • All requests for de-identified unit-level record data for research purposes are required to undergo ethical approval from the WA Department of Health Human Research and Ethics Committee (HREC). The release of HWSS data is subject to official approval from the Data Custodian and HREC and only de-identified data will be sent to researchers using secure file transfer portals.

The HWSS has been operating for more than 20 years and has always maintained the protection of your information and privacy as a top priority. The information you provide will never be sold to private entities for profit or personal/financial gain.

Reference group

The Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System (HWSS) has a reference group that includes, members from across the WA health system as well as representatives from non-government organisation such as Cancer Council WA and Diabetes WA. The HWSS Reference Group members provide guidance, expertise, and insight to ensure that outputs of the HWSS support and enhance health system goals.

The reference group assists in shaping the design of the survey and advising on collection methods, survey outputs and statistical methods used.

The primary objectives of the HWSS Reference Group are to provide high-level, cross-agency advice and guidance to:

  • enhance survey design: provide feedback and review on questionnaire items, data collection methods, sampling strategies and recruitment approaches to improve the validity and reliability of the survey instrument and methods 
  • provide contextual expertise: offer knowledge and insight into public health and related issues specific to WA to assist in the interpretation of survey results
  • support dissemination and utilisation: advise on strategies for sharing survey findings with key stakeholders, including policymakers, healthcare professional and researchers, to inform evidence-based decision making and develop appropriate public health interventions
  • establish long-term engagement: encourage ongoing collaboration to continuously improve and keep the HWSS relevant, provide input and support for survey planning, implementation, and evaluation to ensure the survey is dynamic, responsive, and impactful
  • advise on priority topics: to ensure the survey captures WA’s most important health and wellbeing concerns
  • advise on health and wellbeing survey implications: review and provide advice on how survey results impact WA health policy and practice.
Data requests

The Epidemiology Directorate of the Department of Health responds to requests for data involving data collections under our custodianship including HWSS, to ensure that initiatives undertaken to support the health and wellbeing of Western Australians are evidence based. This includes requests for aggregated data tables, reports, and statistical analysis.

A range of data are publicly available via our published annual reports. We encourage you to review these sources before submitting a request.

All data requests must be submitted using our online form (external site). There may be a cost for these services as per the Epidemiology Directorate costing arrangement (PDF 816KB).

Upon receiving a request, the Epidemiology Directorate within the Department of Heath will provide an initial feasibility assessment and contact the requestor to advise on the next steps. If ethics approval is necessary, this will be discussed with the requestor. All requests concerning unit record level data and/or data for research purposes will require formal ethical approval from the data custodian and the WA Department of Health Human Research Ethics Committee (external site).

The HWSS has been reviewed and approved by WA Department of Health’s Human Research Ethics Committee (Committee EC00422, Project PRN RGS0000002698).

More information

Call 6373 3821
email DOH.HWSS@health.wa.gov.au