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Digital Transformation in Government Insight #73:
The Australian Digital Council

The Australian Digital Council (ADC) is a late-2018 initiative that brings together federal and state governments to align and progress public data and digital transformation in Australia. They met twice last year (September and December) and have already set up some cross-jurisdictional pilot projects.

Salsa Digital 22 January 2019

Who is the ADC?

The ADC was established last year. It’s a Ministerial Council from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and is chaired by the Hon Michael Keenan MP, Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation.

Who are the members?

The ADC is made up of representatives from each state and territory, with the Chair representing the Federal Government. To date there have been two meetings.

Attending the first meeting in September 2018 were:

  • Federal Minister for Digital Transformation Michael Keenan
  • The Hon Victor Dominello MP (NSW)
  • Ryan Batchelor, on behalf of the Hon Gavin Jennings MLC (VIC)
  • The Hon Mick de Brenni MP (QLD)
  • The Hon Dave Kelly (WA)
  • The Hon David Pisoni (SA)
  • The Hon Michael Ferguson (TAS)
  • Mick Gentleman MLA (ACT)
  • The Hon Lauren Moss (NT)

At the second meeting in December 2018 was attended by:

  • Federal Minister for Digital Transformation Michael Keenan
  • The Hon Victor Dominello MP (NSW)
  • The Hon Gavin Jennings MLC (VIC)
  • The Hon Mick de Brenni MP (QLD)
  • Chris Tallentire MLA (WA)
  • The Hon Steven Marshall MP (SA)
  • Mick Gentleman MLA (ACT)

What's the ADC’s role?

According to the ADC’s Terms of Reference, the main role of the ADC is to “improve the use of public sector data and develop better digital services for people and businesses…” The Terms of Reference also outline the types of initiatives the Ministerial Council should look at, covering areas such as:

  • Data security
  • Data sharing
  • Data and digital initiatives with national or cross-jurisdictional benefits

Encouraging collaboration between state, territory and local governments is also one of the six ‘keys to success’ in the Digital Transformation Agency’s (DTA’s) Digital Service Platforms Strategy. However, it appears the ADC is taking a broader, higher level strategy approach whereas while the DTA is involved in strategy, it also has a strong operational focus - e.g. building platforms that are used across jurisdictions. It should also be noted that one of the DTA’s objectives is to work with the ADC to help foster collaboration.

The ADC’s first meeting

The first meeting took place in Sydney on 14 September 2018. Some of the items discussed included:

  • Key data and digital priorities — Each Minister shared an update on the key data and digital priorities underway in their jurisdictions.

  • Cross-jurisdictional collaboration projects — With many cross-jurisdictional projects already underway, the Council identified high-priority initiatives such as improved data sharing for children in out-of-home care and collaboration on digital identity.

Ministers agreed to establish a group of senior officials and gave them a series of tasks, including analysing the current projects in each jurisdiction, scoping a project for improved data sharing for people with a disability, reviewing digital identity opportunities, and investigating a national data system.

They also noted the need to build trust within the community. For more information, you may like to read the full PMC communication (just over two pages long).

The ADC’s second meeting

The second meeting on 7 December 2018 covered four main areas:

  1. A paper on ‘State of the data and digital nation’ – Ministers agreed to set up two cross-jurisdictional teams, one to look at streamlining birth registrations and the other to look at shared digital identity solutions.

  2. Streamlining engagement – Ministers looked at initial results from a pilot project that investigated linking hospital records following the birth of a child for an automatic birth certificate, Medicare enrolment and potentially Centrelink records. A second pilot that will look at streamlining the notification process for the death of a loved one was also given the green light.

  3. Policy insights through data sharing – It was agreed to explore two pilot projects under this area:

    1. Sharing data on children born with birth defects and the pharmaceuticals prescribed to mothers while pregnant (Commonwealth and WA).

    2. A longitudinal and enduring cross-jurisdictional data asset to improve services for people with a disability (Commonwealth, NSW and SA; with option for other jurisdictions to opt-in down the track).

  4. Building a sustainable digital future – The potential of data sharing, the need for security, how to improve digital inclusion, and the need for transparency and building and maintaining community trust.

For more information you might like to read the full PMC communication on the second meeting.

Salsa Digital’s take

Collaboration across the Australian public sector in the areas of data and digital transformation delivers many benefits. Part of this is driven by citizen need — citizens need joined-up user journeys modelled around events, not government departments. Sharing knowledge around state and federal approaches to creating better online experiences will reduce duplication, reduce costs, and lead to a best-practice approach where all jurisdictions can benefit from the work that’s already been done by other teams/departments. This idea of connectedness is also a key driver within Salsa. Our vision is to help governments become more open, more connected and more consolidated.

The ADC is a great initiative to provide a broad overview and understanding of what’s happening in different areas of Australia, to align, and to identify and set up high-level projects across jurisdictions that will benefit all Australians. It’s a great example of governments becoming more open, more connected and more consolidated. We’re looking forward to keeping an eye on the ADC and its strategies and outcomes.

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