Australia’s New Digital Council

The newly formed Australian Digital Council held its inaugural meeting in Sydney last month to discuss key data and digital priorities.

The purpose of the Council is to collaborate cross-jurisdictionally on all matters related to data and digital transformation to deliver efficient government services and smart policies, with an overall aim to provide “a more seamless experience for people and businesses in their engagement with government.”

Comprising of the Commonwealth Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation, The Hon Michael Keenan MP, and one ministerial representative from each state and territory with responsibility for digital matters, the Council will meet on a bi-yearly basis.

The Ministers will oversee Australia’s digital capability, promoting initiatives that seek to “ensure the security of Australia’s data, reform national data sharing arrangements, prioritise and agree data and digital initiatives that offer national or cross-jurisdictional benefits, ensure equitable access to the benefits of digital transformation for all Australians including consideration of addressing the digital divide, ensure digital initiatives have appropriate privacy and security safeguards, build a social licence by developing joint approaches to inform the public and build public trust in government based digital services.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison formally opened the inaugural meeting, as is standard for newly formed Councils.

Each Minister had a chance to update the Council on their jurisdiction’s key data and digital priorities, including efforts to introduce data sharing and release legislation to provide a more efficient framework to govern data, increase citizen and government data privacy and security, new initiatives to improve analytics within government, adoption of emerging data technologies and enhancing cyber security.

Particularly notable topics discussed were the progress on the government’s GovPass, a digital identity service which will allow users to establish their identity once to access different government services across a multitude of platforms; closing the digital divide and ensuring equity in digital transformation.

Cross-jurisdictional collaboration projects were also discussed, including data sharing on children in out-of-home care environments to better understand their welfare outcomes, and an agreement to prioritise delivering digital identity for people and businesses.

The Australian Digital Council will meet again in two months for their second official meeting.

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