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Victoria moves closer to creating new whole-of-government agency for centralised access to Government services

Today, the Service Victoria Bill 2017, which will create a dedicated agency for everyday Government transactions, was second read in the Victorian parliament in Australia. The Bill aims to break down departmental silos and create a new whole-of-government agency – Service Victoria – that will act as a central access point for members of the community accessing Government services.

Victorians complete around 55 million transactions with the State Government every year, but at the moment, accessing government services and information can be excessively difficult and costly. There are hundreds of phone hotlines and 538 different websites. This causes delays and frustrations and results in increased expense to taxpayers.

Service Victoria is intended to deal with these challenges and modernise the delivery of the highest volume government transactions, such as car registration, to ensure that members of the community can more easily access these services in one place.

The Bill will allow the new agency to be able to process and handle high volume Government transactions such as car registration, birth certificates, fishing licences and many others as Service Victoria grows.

The Bill provides minimum standards around the handling and sharing of information, ensuring community members have the choice and, ultimate control, over how their personal information is obtained and used. (In October, the Victorian Data Sharing Bill 2017,  which aims to break down these agency silos within government and ensure agencies can share data and information across the whole-of-government had its second reading in the parliament)

The proposed agency in the process of building an online platform that will eventually become the new place to go for government services, an important part of the Andrews Labor Government’s ICT strategy.

This Bill follows the investment of AU$81million by the Labor Government in the Victorian Budget 2016/17 for the initial development of Service Victoria.

This investment has enabled the development of new systems, processes and digital platforms to deliver the modern customer experience expected and tackle the rising costs of providing such services. Beta testing for the new platform is currently underway and it is expected to be available to the public in 2018.

Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings said, “Victorians expect great customer service when dealing with everyday businesses, and government should be no different – at present dealing with government can be slow, confusing and cumbersome.”

“We simply don’t need a thousand different websites and hotlines for things like car registration, birth certificates and fishing licences. Service Victoria is about reducing the frustrations of dealing with government so hard working families can spend more time on the things that matter and less on confusing websites,” Mr. Jennings added.

One-stop government service channels in other parts of Australia

There have been similar initiatives in several Australian states to provide a one-stop shop for state government services. Service NSW was already delivering over 900 services from more than 40 New South Wales Government agencies in 2016. In Feburary 2016, it launched a ‘tell us once’ digital account.

Access Canberra brings together ACT Government shopfronts, call handling, online services and regulatory functions in a single unified service.  South Australia’s Service SA  provides access to a range of government services, including a variety of registration and licensing, either online, over the phone and in person. Smart Service Queensland also aims to provide a primary point of contact for citizens to access Queensland Government services.

Western Australian’s Digital ICT Strategy, introduced last year, includes a Government Digital Services Portal Program, as a major initiative. Stage 1 (completed 1 July 2017) delivered an initial Alpha (prototype), called myWA (now re-branded to ServiceWA), designed to engage public and industry feedback and input into the design. Stage 2 (2017-18) will, using lessons learned from Stage 1, deliver a Beta portal, and focus on delivering immediate benefits to the community, such as enabling individuals to use a single credential to access multiple WA government services. 

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