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Advancing Australia: Transforming Digital Services

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In a bid to enhance Australia’s digital infrastructure, the Data and Digital Ministers Meeting, chaired by Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher, convened with representatives from all Australian states, territories, and New Zealand. The meeting focused on various initiatives to improve digital services, ensure data security, and foster digital inclusion.

The overarching purpose of the Data and Digital Ministers Meeting is to foster cross-government collaboration in data and digital transformation. This collaboration aims to ensure smarter service delivery and improved outcomes for Australians. Key focus areas include:

  • Reforming cross-jurisdictional data and digital platforms, services, and protocols
  • Enhancing government capability to build public trust and deliver digital services
  • Delivering a seamless digital identity experience for citizens
  • Transforming government services around life events

In line with Target 17 of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which aims for equal levels of digital inclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by 2026, ministers discussed ongoing collaborations with the First Nations Digital Inclusion Advisory Group. They acknowledged significant achievements thus far and stressed the necessity of continued efforts. Initiatives led by Minister Michelle Rowland to review the Universal Service Obligation, enhance the National Messaging System, and implement the School Student Broadband Initiative were particularly noted.

Ministers reiterated their commitment to enabling all Australians to access services safely and easily through a Digital ID. A new project was launched to assist Australians, particularly First Nations people, in using alternative identification methods to create a Digital ID. This initiative aims to ensure inclusivity and accessibility in digital identification processes.

The meeting saw a consensus on a Digital ID and Verifiable Credentials Strategy, setting a framework for fast, secure, and seamless access to government services online. The strategy emphasises individual control over personal information, ensuring Digital IDs are secure, portable, convenient, voluntary, and inclusive. Following the enactment of the Digital ID legislation by the Commonwealth Parliament in May 2024, a further plan will be developed by the end of 2024 to support the adoption of Digital ID across the economy. This plan will enable more services to be accredited under the new legislation and integrate with the Australian Government Digital ID System.

Ministers endorsed the National Framework for the Assurance of Artificial Intelligence in government, aiming to align AI use across governments with ethical and transparent standards. This framework prioritises the rights, well-being, and interests of Australians, committing to flexibility and responsiveness in AI adoption.

The National Life Events Program was discussed as a means to simplify interactions with government services. Ministers agreed to initiate a proof of concept for a life events-based checklist within the myGov app, which will help Australians easily find and access information and services across all levels of government.

Another major highlight of the meeting was the commitment to improving information sharing on family and domestic violence perpetrators. The Commonwealth and Victoria will spearhead efforts to enhance cross-system and cross-jurisdictional information sharing. Ministers underscored the urgency of this initiative, emphasising the need for collaboration between Data and Digital Ministers and Women and Women’s Safety Ministers to provide comprehensive advice to the National Cabinet.

Ministers acknowledged that data and technology are reshaping how Australians live, work, and prosper. They emphasised the public’s expectation for high standards in service delivery, data protection, privacy, and security, along with diverse and accessible service options.

The meeting’s outcomes reflect a concerted effort to align digital policies and services across Australia, ensuring that all citizens can benefit from the advances in digital technology. The focus on ethical AI, digital inclusion, and secure identification systems highlights the government’s commitment to a future-ready, inclusive digital infrastructure.

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