National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR)

Page last updated: 18 November 2019

The Department of Health appointed Telstra Health to develop and operate a NCSR to support the National Cervical Screening Program and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

What is the National Cancer Screening Register?

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) is an electronic system for the collection, storage, analysis and reporting of cancer screening program data. It supports Australia’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) and National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) by inviting, reminding and following up participants for screening.

The NCSR commenced operations on 1 December 2017 to support the renewal of the NCSP. On 18 November 2019, the NCSR commenced supporting the NBCSP. By supporting both Programs, the NCSR will make it easier for Australians and their healthcare providers to take care of their cancer screening. It also brings us closer to one of the government’s goals of ‘one record, one patient’, as it enables a unique national identifier to create one record for each participant and a regular feed of demographic status updates. It also facilitates the identification of people who have never screened, meaning for the first time, invitations can be sent to improve participation for these groups.

The NCSR supports the Programs by:

  • Maintaining a national database of screening records
  • Holding a single, consistent, national screening history for each participant
  • Inviting eligible persons to commence screening. For cervical screening this is when they turn 25 years and for bowel screening, when they turn 50 years
  • Reminding participants when they are due and overdue for screening
  • Providing a participant’s screening history to laboratories to inform screening recommendations
  • Providing a ‘safety net’ for participants who are at risk and have not attended further testing, by prompting them (and the healthcare providers) to have follow up tests

The NCSR is built in accordance with strict data security requirements and complies with all legal requirements applicable to the processing of and access to Health data. The NCSR is also underpinned by the National Cancer Screening Register Act 2016 which ensures protection of invitees’ and participants’ Personal Information.

The NCSR will also provide the platform for additional screening programs in the future.

For more information about the NCSR call 1800 627 701 or visit the website.

Privacy Impact Assessment for the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR)

A Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) was undertaken in consultation with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to assess the information flows and privacy concerns that might arise from establishing and operating the NCSR.

The PIA was finalised in December 2016 and made 28 recommendations in the context of potential privacy compliance and management issues, including measures to be undertaken as part of implementing the NCSR.

The Department has accepted all 28 recommendations and is currently planning the implementation of the recommendations.

PDF version National Cancer Screening Register Privacy Impact Assessment (PDF 1548 KB)

Word version National Cancer Screening Register Privacy Impact Assessment (Word 6414 KB)

Frequently asked questions

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) is an electronic system for the collection, storage, analysis and reporting of cancer screening program data. It supports Australia’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) and National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) by inviting, reminding and following up participants for screening. It also helps healthcare providers make decisions about their patients’ health care.

For more information about the NCSR, visit the website.

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) supports the National Cervical Screening Program and National Bowel Cancer Screening Program by:

  • Maintaining a national database of cervical screening records
  • Holding a single, consistent, national cervical screening history for each participant Inviting eligible persons to commence cervical screening when they turn 25 years
  • Reminding participants when they are due and overdue for cervical screening
  • Providing a participant’s cervical screening history to laboratories to inform screening recommendations
  • Providing a ‘safety net’ for participants who are at risk and have not attended further testing, by prompting them (and the healthcare providers) to have follow up tests

The Register uses Medicare Enrolment data, Department of Veterans' Affairs data and certain Medical Benefits Schedule claims data for invitation purposes.

The Register will also eventually support the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) that is currently managed by the Department of Human Services.

The Commonwealth Department of Health is the custodian of the information in the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) and has contracted Telstra Health to build and operate the NCSR.

No. Telstra (including Telstra Health) are only permitted to use your Personal Information for the purposes of the National Cancer Screening Register to support the National Cervical Screening Program and National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) has been implemented in partnership with state and territory governments, and is overseen by a number of governing bodies managed by the Department of Health and with the required clinical and data expertise. Operation of the NCSR is strictly informed by evidence-based program policies and protocols: developed through the screening programs’ governance structures, including the Australian Government, state and territory governments, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and key clinical experts.

The Commonwealth Department of Health takes your privacy very seriously.

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) is bound by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (the Privacy Act), including the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs), and the National Cancer Screening Register Act 2016. You can access the privacy policy through the National Cancer Screening Register’s website or by calling the National Cancer Screening Register Contact Centre on 1800 118 701.

In addition to the legal requirements for protecting privacy, the NCSR operates in accordance with strict Australian Government security policies and guidelines. Only authorised personnel have access to information held in the NCSR and this is monitored for authentication credentials upon access.

Your information in the NCSR is stored within Australia in secure data storage facilities.

The National Cancer Screening Act 2016 provides the legislative framework to safeguard protected information in the NCSR by prohibiting its use and disclosure for purposes outside the requirements to operate it; and creating an offence arising from the unauthorised recording, use or disclosure of Personal Information contained in the NCSR. The legislation also requires notification to the Australian Information Commissioner if there is a data breach.

Yes. The requirements for the NCSR include that Telstra Health must comply with and adhere to the stringent controls of the Commonwealth Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) at all times. The PSPF provide mandatory requirements to:

  • manage security risks to their people, information and assets
  • provide assurance to the government and the public that official resources and information provided to the NCSR are safeguarded
  • incorporate protective security into the culture of the NCSR.

In addition the NCSR will, at all times, comply with the Information Security Manual and the National Identity Security Strategy.

No. The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) is operated from within Australia and all data is stored on-shore in secure data storage facilities. The NCSR’s hosting environment has been certified to Zone 2 of the Australian Government Physical Security Management Protocol. This protocol certifies that data centres implement adequate physical security controls for the purposes of storing "PROTECTED" classified information.

The NCSR’s operational services are based in Melbourne.

Participants can manage their Personal Information by calling the Program Contact Centre on 1800 118 868.

Participants have control over who is allowed to access it their Personal Information on the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR).

Only duly authorised and authenticated users may access the system. Healthcare providers and other authorised bodies (including state and territory health departments) are able to access protected information from the NCSR, including Personal Information of individuals, in order to perform functions or duties relating to the purposes of the NCSR. The NCSR has an extensive access control system that will ensure that access to functions and data is limited based on the role and functions performed by the user.

Practitioners and screening participants are not charged a fee to access their records or the system. Participants are able to view and manage their contact information and screening status through the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) free of charge.

The NCSR issues correspondence for the NCSP and NBCSP free of charge.

The NCSR includes a Melbourne-based call centre that provides support for Register users in each state and territory free of charge.

All Telstra Health personnel who are involved in managing or operating the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) are required to sign a confidentiality undertaking. In addition, Telstra Health personnel who have access to the NCSR’s data or are likely to have access to the data must possess the necessary security clearance, issued by the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency.

The National Cancer Screening Register has extensive cyber security protections so that it is not vulnerable to malware, viruses or Trojans. It is subject to IT Security compliance activities in accordance with government policies.

Yes. The National Cancer Screening Register is logging all transactions and events, capturing the source, destination, action, identify and result of the action. All system logs are kept and are to be retained by Telstra.

The Commonwealth will continue to be responsible for national screening policy, processes and the information captured in the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR). The NCSR system and its operations will be provided as a service by Telstra Health to the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth is the custodian of the data stored in the NCSR. Telstra Health owns the intellectual property associated with the NCSR software required to operate the NCSR.

At the end of the contract, the Commonwealth will be able to continue to licence the software. This includes making it available to a new register operator.

Telstra Health is unable to sell or use the data in any manner not authorised by the Commonwealth - data may only be used for the purposes of the NCSR.