2. Submission and validation of CMHC NMDS data files

Submission, delivery and validation of the 2018-19 CMHC data (version 5.30) will occur through the MDS Validator. AIHW and the Department of Health will obtain jurisdictional DAT files directly from the Validator using the download functionality available to reviewers.

2.1. Timelines

Jurisdictions are requested to submit a stage 1 compliant file using the online Validator by 10 January 2020. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the Department of Health are aiming to have Stage 2 validation completed by 18 April 2020 to facilitate timelier reporting of CMHC data, in accordance with the schedule in Table 2.1.

Table 2.1 CMHC and RMHC NMDS 2018-19 data validation
Progress point description Responsibility Completion Time Completion date
Stage 1 submission Jurisdictions 10 January 2020
Submitter comment on all issues within the issue list Jurisdictions 7 weeks 21 February 2020
Reviewer reply to all issues within the issue list and raise other issues based on historical reports AIHW 3 weeks 14 March 2020
Resolution of any remaining issues - validation process completed AIHW/Jurisdiction discussion back and forth 5 weeks 18 April 2020

2.2. File type and naming convention

DAT files should be a single Fixed Format data file, with each record in the file being terminated with Carriage Return (CR) and Line Feed (LF) characters.

The data file will have the naming convention of CMHCSSSYYYYNNNNN.DAT where:

  • CMHC denotes ‘Community Mental Health Care’
  • SSS is the abbreviation for the State name, using the following convention:
    • New South Wales = NSW
    • Victoria = VIC
    • Queensland = QLD
    • Western Australia = WAU
    • South Australia = SAU
    • Tasmania = TAS
    • Australian Capital Territory = ACT
    • Northern Territory = NTE
  • YYYY indicates the reporting year covered in the file, using the convention where financial years are abbreviated by referring to the last calendar year of the pair (for example, 2018-19 is identified as 2019)
  • NNNNN represents an incremental batch number (leading zeros present).

Any resubmitted files should have a batch number greater than the file they replace. For example, the first CMHC data file submitted by the Australian Capital Territory covering the 2018-19 year would be named ‘CMHCACT201900001.DAT’.

2.3. Validation

Mental Health National Minimum Dataset (NMDS) validation is the process of reviewing and cleaning the mental health service data received from state and territory governments using the MDS Validator a web based validation tool. The process has two stages:

  • Stage 1 validation
    • Structural check when file is submitted to validator
  • Stage 2 validation
    • Respond to and accept all issues in the issues list
    • Review data set reports (CMHC and RMHC) and raise additional issues with the jurisdiction as necessary.

2.3.1. Stage 1 validation

Stage 1 validation ensures that the submitted data file structure is correct: that the data is in the correct layout, that there no blank fields or invalid characters. These checks ensure that each line of data is correctly formatted and aligns to the specifications.

2.3.2. Stage 2 validation

Stage 2 Validation is the process of reviewing unusual trends in the files submitted and accepted in stage 1 validation. Each collection is different and has its own structure, but the general process of validating is the same. Once stage 1 validation is complete:

  1. Work though the issues list, either providing comments on known issues or updating and resubmitting the file. It is expected that most jurisdictions will need to submit updated files multiple times before validation is finalised. Note that jurisdictions must submit comments on issues before the AIHW is able to accept an issue.
  2. Engage with the AIHW when more information is required on an issue through the validator. Each jurisdiction will have an AIHW staff member assigned as the lead validator, who will be in touch early in the validation period. Please ensure that any email communication is also Cc’d to the Mentalhealth@aihw.gov.au inbox in case of staff absences or changes in AIHW staffing.
  3. The AIHW will review the Data Set Reports and will raise additional queries about any large fluctuations evident in these reports after investigating which regions, organisations and service units are causing them. The AIHW will endeavour to ensure that additional queries are limited to essential issues that impact the state-wide result.

2.4. Data quality survey

States and territories must complete the data quality survey in the MDS Validator for the CMHC submission. Details will be used to inform the Quality statements published on METeOR for each NMDS collection period.

2.5. Additional information and queries

AIHW and Strategic Data staff are available to answer any queries regarding the submission and validation of the 2018-19 CMHC NMDS. In order to obtain a coordinated response, requests should be sent to the following parties simultaneously:


Email: mentalhealth@aihw.gov.au

Strategic Data

Email: support@validator.com.au