Wombats reside and sleep in burrows and occupy a different burrow every four to ten days. Parasitic mites that cause sarcoptic mange, a serious disease affecting wombats, are thought to be transmitted when wombats occupy each other’s burrows but it has not been clear whether conditions within burrows promote this transmission.
Researchers from La Trobe University and the University of Tasmania, Australia developed WomBot to study environmental conditions within wombat burrows. The robot is remotely operated and moves using continuous tracks, similar to a tank tread. Its top speed is 0.15 metres per second and it is able to climb inclines of up to 22 degrees.
Environmental sensors in WomBot can measure the temperature and humidity of a burrow while a gripper attached to its front can be used to place and retrieve additional environmental sensors. Front and rear cameras enable burrow visualisation. WomBot is 300 millimetres long and weighs two kilograms, equivalent to one-third of the length and one-tenth of the weight of a wombat.
Robert Ross, the corresponding author stated that wombat burrows are challenging to study as they are narrow, muddy, can be dozens of metres long and contain steep sections and sharp turns.
WomBot allows researchers to enter and explore these burrows without destroying them or using expensive ground-penetrating radar. This can help them better understand the environmental conditions within burrows that may facilitate sarcoptic mange transmission.
The authors used WomBot to explore a total of 30 wombat burrows in Tasmania during September 2020. They found that the average temperature inside the burrows was 15 degrees Celsius and the average relative humidity was 85%.
Environmental sensors left in the burrows over a 24-hour period recorded the temperatures and showed that they remained mostly constant at 11 degrees Celsius and relative humidity ranged from 85 to 95%. Temperatures outside of the burrow during this time ranged from three to 15 degrees Celsius and relative humidity ranged from 70 to 95%.
Previous research has suggested that the conditions that promote maximum survival of scabies mites are temperatures around 10 degrees Celsius and relative humidity between 75 and 97%, similar to the conditions observed inside the wombat burrows.
The authors estimate that female mites could survive for between nine and ten days at the entrance to a wombat burrow and between 16 and 18 days inside a burrow, potentially allowing them to infect wombats.
The team’s findings indicate that the environmental conditions within wombat burrows may facilitate sarcoptic mange transmission by promoting mite survival. WomBot could potentially be used to help reduce the spread of sarcoptic mange by delivering insecticide or ensuring burrows are empty before being temporarily heated in order to eradicate mites.
The authors caution that the environmental conditions observed over a 24-hour period within the burrows used in their study may not be representative of conditions inside all wombat burrows throughout the year.
The paper also states that in terms of quality of use, the team developed a teleoperated robot which, allows reliable sensor placement and retrieval, is compact, teleoperated, and highly manoeuvrable to allow researchers to traverse the difficult terrain within wombat burrows.
The robotic solution gives a clear view of what is happening inside burrows and significantly reduces safety and environmental risk as it is non-destructive and negates the need for entry into confined spaces.
Consequently, the researchers claim that their overall objective was largely achieved, that is, they have a robotic system that can be used to explore and study wombat burrows.
In terms of product quality, the field testing has validated that the WomBot robot is capable of traversing wombat burrows and had sufficient manipulator dexterity to place and retrieve objects.
This allowed for sensors and test platforms to be deployed and retrieved to study the burrow conditions and prevalence of mange-causing mites. Given the simple operability, and lightweight design, coupled with the built-in fault-tolerance, the scientists expect such a robotic platform may have broad applicability in other confined space locations (e.g. HVAC, inspection under houses).
They envisage future work in this area could include further robotic enhancements (e.g., insecticide dispensing within sleeping chambers), point-cloud burrow reconstruction and collection of soil samples to study mite prevalence.
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU Singapore) have created a method to transform wastepaper from cardboard boxes and single-use packaging into a vital component of lithium-ion batteries.
The NTU researchers used a process called carbonisation, which turns paper into pure carbon, to transform the paper’s fibres into electrodes that can be used to create rechargeable batteries for electric cars, medical equipment, and mobile devices.
Paper is used in many aspects of daily life, from gift wrapping and crafts to a wide range of industrial uses, including heavy-duty packaging, protective wrapping, and the filling of voids in construction, according to Assistant Professor Lai Changquan of NTU’s School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and the project’s coordinator.
However, besides incineration, which produces high levels of carbon emissions because of its composition, not much is done to manage it when it is disposed of. “Our method to give kraft paper another lease of life, funnelling it into the growing need for devices such as electric vehicles and smartphones, would not only help cut down on carbon emissions but would also ease the reliance on mining and heavy industrial methods,” says Ass Prof Lai.
The team heated the paper to high temperatures to carbonise it, which turns it into pure carbon, water vapour and oils that can be used to make biofuel. As carbonisation occurs in the absence of oxygen and produces very little carbon dioxide, it is a more environmentally friendly method of disposal for kraft paper than incineration, which releases a lot of greenhouse gases.
The carbon anodes created by the research team also demonstrated superior durability, flexibility, and electrochemical properties. According to laboratory tests, the anodes are at least twice as durable as the anodes in today’s phone batteries and could withstand 1,200 charges and discharges.
The NTU-produced anode-based batteries could withstand physical stress better than their rivals, absorbing crushing energy up to five times better. In comparison to current industrial techniques for producing battery anodes, the NTU-developed method also employs less energy-intensive processes and heavy metals. This newest technique, which uses a cheap waste material, is anticipated to lower the cost of manufacturing lithium-ion batteries because the anode accounts for 10% to 15% of their overall cost.
Using wastepaper as the raw material for battery anodes would also reduce reliance on traditional carbon sources, such as carbonaceous fillers and carbon-yielding binders, which are mined and then processed with harsh chemicals and machinery.
In 2020, paper waste, which includes discarded paper bags, cardboard, newspaper, and other paper packaging, comprised nearly one-fifth of the waste generated in Singapore. A separate 2020 NTU study discovered that kraft paper bags, which account for most of Singapore’s paper waste, have large environmental footprints when compared to cotton and plastic counterparts, due to their greater contribution to global warming when incinerated and the eco-toxicity potential in their production.
The current innovation, which provides an opportunity to upcycle waste products and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels while accelerating our transition to a circular economy, green materials, and clean energy, reflects NTU’s commitment to reducing our environmental impact, which is one of four grand challenges that the University seeks to address through its NTU 2025 strategic plan.
The NTU team will carry out additional research to increase the material’s capacity for storing energy and lower the amount of heat energy needed to turn paper into carbon.
The Australian National University (ANU) is hosting a new training centre aimed at upskilling the next generation of researchers in cutting-edge 3D imaging and analysis technology to help repair bones, safely store CO2, deactivate viruses on surfaces and recycle car parts among a range of critical applications.
The ARC Training Centre for Multiscale 3D Imaging, Modelling and Manufacturing, M3D Innovation, is using a “disruptive” digital imaging, analysis, modelling and manufacturing technology developed at ANU for more than 15 years.
The micro-imaging technology provides users with 3D “supervision” into a range of materials at scales ranging from metres to 10 nanometres – a measurement 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
The technology was originally developed by a team of researchers with M3D Innovation Director, Professor Mark Knackstedt, who has won a Eureka Prize as well as an ENI award – the ‘Nobel prize’ for energy resources research – for his innovation.
He noted that the aim is to gather researchers from ANU and Queensland University of Technology, 15 industry partners and end users to harness the ‘super-power’ of advanced imaging and analysis technologies. He added that a vibrant research training environment is being built and a workforce that is expert in applying the new technology to a range of new industry sectors is being created. Moreover, PhD students and early career researchers in industrial collaboration and commercialisation are being mentored.
Already, incredible strides have been made through a range of exciting projects. This includes using the technology to investigate green steel production via hydrogen-based processes; safely storing CO2 in aquifers to fight climate change, recycling car parts for a circular economy, regenerating bones with biodegradable scaffolds and designing custom bone implants.
Partners at QUT have developed new technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, using etching techniques to roughen surfaces to deactivate bacteria and viruses. This is a technique that could be used to deactivate COVID-19 on metal surfaces in hospitals and clinical settings.
M3D Innovation is funded by the Australian Government under the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme. Professor Knackstedt said they are grateful for the Australian Government’s investment and support for this important field of science and for the translation to industry partners.
ANU and Australia are world leaders in this space. Their work at M3D Innovation will boost the country’s capacity and deliver new graduates and researchers with critical skills and knowledge across novel manufacturing, modelling and imaging.
The global 3D imaging market size was valued at US$25.7 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.2% from 2022 to 2030. 3D imaging is the procedure of rendering a three-dimensional image to create the optical illusion of depth.
During the 3D imaging process, two or more motion cameras are employed to capture a three-dimensional object for these 3D images to be produced. High-resolution images are created by combining 3D image sensors, cameras, and screens. As a result, 3D imaging is widely used in hospitals, the entertainment industry, architecture, construction, and automotive.
While the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted market growth, ongoing technological developments in the field of 3D imaging and the widespread adoption of and need for 3D imaging systems in different sectors are expected to drive the market in the coming future.
The growing prevalence of chronic diseases worldwide coupled with increased awareness of the benefits of 3D imaging technology are also factors contributing to the growth in demand for 3D imaging solutions.
A digital government operates in a manner that is digital by design, focusing on the requirements of users and maximising data. Fundamentally altering the way the Australian government operates now, it offers enhanced social, policy and economic outcomes.
The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) of Australia believes that a digital government better prioritises the requirements of individuals and businesses. It entails investing in cutting-edge technology to deliver a personalised experience that is stable, safe and dependable and ultimately anticipates the demands of each user.
Australia’s Resilience and Growth Rely on Digital Government
“We cannot underestimate the impact of programmes and concepts such as ‘Tell us Once’ – not requiring customers to continue to re-tell their story as they access government services,” Lucy emphasises.
They are beginning to see both this de-duplication in service delivery and a side effect of more efficient investment through what they have dubbed the “Australian Government Architecture” (AGA).
The AGA is a vision to reduce the time agencies need to navigate the complexities of government in building digital and ICT-enabled solutions. It is designed to be a catalogue of applicable policies and standards combined with an index of repeatable patterns and capabilities for re-use.
Because of the increased speed-to-market, the Government can respond to priority needs using modern, best-of-breed approaches gaining “overall efficiency in how we digitally connect government services”.
“Silos of excellence” are a significant challenge. While Australia has some policies in place to reduce investment in duplicated capability, this is a difficult barrier. While some core functions of a platform may be the same, the needs of the service that uses that platform may be very different. “It’s always a struggle to strike a good balance.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to transforming government services, there are often legacy, disconnected systems that must be addressed and eventually decommissioned. This requires time, effort, and, most importantly, commitment. When compared to the release of a new system, it is more difficult to create a good-news story about turning off a system.
“Our people are at the heart of so much of what we do in the Public Service. This heart is often the dedication that the government requires of people who are passionate about serving citizens and businesses,” Lucy acknowledges.
The money available to the public sector, particularly in the digital streams of work, can make it difficult to compete with the private sector. This means that their best and brightest often leave for greater returns and better opportunities. “Our big challenge will be crafting our employee value proposition – across the Australian Public Service and all agencies.”
One of the most important technological advancements ever made, digital identification has enormous advantages for businesses, consumers, and governments. Australia is a pioneering nation in the field of digital identity. The Trusted Digital Identity Framework that supports the Australian Government Digital Identity System isn’t simply based on industry best practices from throughout the world; it’s also regarded as best practices in many other nations.
Underscoring her belief in the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF), Lucy says, “At the DTA, we’ve been building policy for Digital Identity – the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF) – for several years.”
The DTA is responsible for the Whole-of-Government Digital and ICT Investment Oversight Framework – a six-stage, end-to-end framework that provides Government Agencies with direction for managing their digital and ICT investments across the full project lifecycle. Government Departments and Agencies are obligated to consult with the DTA on all digital and ICT investment plans throughout the framework’s numerous stages, per the Framework.
Moreover, the TDIF serves as the guiding principle for the Australian Government Digital Identity System. It is based on worldwide and industry best practices and standards and it establishes strict guidelines for privacy, security, transparency and trust.
The TDIF is regarded as a world-leading accreditation framework for digital identity providers. It has supported the implementation of best-practice digital identity policies in Australia’s government and corporate sectors.
The TDIF has evolved and continues to adapt in response to changes in the service delivery landscape and consumer expectations as digital identification technology quickly evolves. It has gone through four major revisions, with a fifth now in the works.
In addition to incorporating accrediting programme findings, the next version (release 5) aims to prepare the TDIF for the future of digital identity as verifiable credentials and digital wallets become more popular and technology continues to grow at a rapid pace.
More than 9 million Australians, on the other hand, have decided to create a Digital Identity (using myGovID to build a Basic, Standard, or Strong identity) to access over 125 government services online, with 26 services supplied by states and territories. Over the past year, 1.3 million people used their Digital Identity more than once while 12,000 people have used their Digital Identity more than 65 times.
“We also have more than 1.4 million businesses that use Digital Identity to access business services, like our tax agency. This makes it easier for them to do business by reducing the amount of paperwork they have to do,” Lucy reveals.
Identification fraud can be reduced using a digital identity. In Australia, Digital Identity is predicted to save the economy AU$3 billion per year from identity theft and online fraud. The Australian Government Digital Identity System also provides extra privacy and security safeguards, such as no central database where papers are held, the inability to trace or sell a person’s behaviour, and all information being securely encrypted.
On the surface, this looks to be a simple issue. But, a response must include service standards, service design, accountability systems, collaborative service delivery with other jurisdictions, feedback mechanisms, open data and open government.
The design of performance metrics to monitor end-user experience begins with the service design. That is, gathering baseline data, investigating what data is accessible and, most crucially, finding the questions that yield performance data to enable continual improvement.
Monitoring the performance of a service or product is frequently done through a lens other than digital. The annual Report on Government Services (RoGS), for example, provides an annual study of government services in terms of equity, efficiency, and effectiveness.
The RoGs must incorporate state and territory government services as well as those of the Australian Government because other similar service experiences can influence user satisfaction ratings.
All government services must pause and assess how well they are satisfying the requirements of their users. myGov, the largest platform for providing government services to citizens, is currently subject to an independent user audit. The audit’s recommendations are expected to have significant implications for government service delivery across the board.
The Australian Public Sector (APS), like many other organisations and institutions around the world, is reorienting and evolving to embrace digital transformation and harness the power of data. “Realising that these are critical to our ability to continue to effectively serve the interests of Australia and the Australian people in a world defined by increasing speed and complexity,” says Lucy.
She agrees that it’s hard to keep the momentum and focus needed for long-term digital transformation with all the other priorities and crises that the public sector has to deal with at the same time. A key part of this is recognising and emphasising the link between digital transformation and trust and satisfaction in government on the part of citizens.
Even though the pandemic forced people to rely on their governments more, the overall trend is obvious. Against this backdrop, the Australian Government has made it a top priority and a requirement for the APS to do its job to win back the trust of the people.
“In the DTA, we make it clear how the ongoing digital transformation and the whole-of-government reform agenda are linked and depend on each other,” Lucy asserts.
The agency continues to stress the importance of services that focus on people and are easy to use. They are also building strategies that support the transformation that is sustainable, efficient, and centred on people. She points out that Australians who are happy with government services are twice as likely to trust their government.
Paving the Way for the Future of Digital Transformation
Australia is experiencing the effects of the rapid rate at which the digital world is evolving. Its APS Reform, which has a 2030 perspective, provides the government with a clear vision for the transformation of the public sector. The main objective of this agenda is to revolutionise how digital is done by making the APS more effective and efficient.
Ensuring that people and businesses are at the centre of policy and services is a core tenet of APS Reform. To ensure that transformation meets and surpasses user expectations, early and meaningful interaction and co-design are given a lot of attention in the digital space.
Trust is an issue for governments everywhere and is closely related to citizen expectations. In Australia, as in many other nations, public trust in the government had been dwindling before the outbreak. Although COVID had a brief uptick, regaining the public’s trust remains a major problem facing the government and its institutions.
To ensure that the government puts its constituents at its centre, the digitisation of government is key to the endeavour to reestablish confidence. The Independent Review of the APS in 2019 recognised this priority, and the nation is already moving in the right direction.
The key will be to define who is responsible for delivering initiatives and to raise the transparency of the progress by publicising how well key metrics are performing. However, confidence is not just dependent on how well-run and open the government’s operations are. It includes safeguarding data as well.
Criminal and state-based actors are rapidly developing their offensive capabilities, which is causing the cyber threat landscape to change all the time. These more sophisticated cyber-attacks are aimed against Australia.
A big compromise of Australian Government networks is a matter of “when,” not “if,” without massive reorganisation and cyber upgrading. “In light of this, we are hardening the government’s own IT, through a centralised model of cyber security services, called Cyber Hubs. We’re currently testing the feasibility of the Cyber Hubs model through a pilot. So far the pilot has shown the centralisation of the provision of services can help improve cyber security,” Lucy explains.
The government and institutions have vast amounts of information about Australians. This data is the fuel that drives the progress of artificial intelligence. Over the next 5 to 10 years, there is a chance to harness this data and use AI to innovate and improve public service delivery, resulting in better efficiency and transformation. But AI’s use of this data comes with risks and challenges for everyone, including the public sector. These risks and challenges need to be handled morally and responsibly.
Quantum computing is still in its infancy, but its application could represent the next step in the digital revolution of service delivery. AI is only as good as the data it’s trained on. Large datasets are currently being used by governments and institutions to train AI models and make them more useful.
However, when these datasets become scarce, governments and industries will be forced to find new ways to improve AI programmes. Quantum computing is one such method. Quantum computing refers to a class of supercomputers based on quantum mechanics.
To process information, these quantum computers employ the laws of quantum mechanics. That is, they can detect patterns in data that are nearly impossible to detect using traditional computers. They are substantially different from today’s computers in this regard.
Lucy believes if these powerful AI capabilities are utilised responsibly and data is saved and maintained safely, confidence and trust in government and institutions will grow. “More will need to be done in the next 5 to 10 years to integrate human values like transparency and fairness with AI’s goals of efficiency.”
Lucy is optimistic about the future and the role the DTA will play in guiding the government on developments in digital and ICT. She sees great potential for the agency to act as a government advisory body for its tech-enabled initiatives going forward as well as to serve the country in its digital ambitions. In summary, that is what she believes the agency exists for – to aid the public sector to offer the best citizen experience possible and help the nation thrive.
The MIDA-MPMA conference on Government Assistance at MIDA’s headquarters aimed to provide insights to participants on various government policies, facilitations and assistance for the manufacturing sector specifically the plastics industry. As the plastics industry continues to grow, it is important that companies, particularly SMEs, focus on innovation and raise productivity to compete and capture new opportunities.
The initiative was co-organised by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA). MIDA’s Chief Executive Officer, in his keynote address, highlighted that the agency has proactively taken the initiative to ensure investors have the necessary access to the right infrastructure, proper facilities and skilled talent to cater to the requirements of businesses.
Among the initiatives and assistance provided by MIDA to manufacturers of plastics products include the Smart Automation Grant Industry4WRD Intervention Fund, Automation Capital Allowance (ACA) and Domestic Investment Coordination Platform (DICP). Besides innovation, companies have also adopted automation by leveraging on ACA to increase productivity and address challenges in a tight labour market, he said.
Malaysia is committed to achieving net zero carbon by 2050. For this, MIDA and MPMA are working closely together to drive industry collaboration and understand the demand and supply of recycled plastics resources.
Speaking at the opening of the Conference, the MPMA’s Vice-President stated that the plastics industry continues to face tremendous challenges including a shortage of labour, an increase in cost arising from the increase in minimum wages and rising interest rates as well as a slump in overseas demand, particularly, from the developed countries which are experiencing an economic slowdown.
Looking ahead, plastics manufacturers shifting towards high technologies and factory efficiency to reduce their dependency on foreign workers and low-skilled labour is unavoidable. Investing in the latest technology and human skills is one of the options for companies to continue to move up the value chain. The ability of the plastics industry to produce high-quality products at competitive prices will strengthen Malaysia’s role as a supporting industry, and in turn, attract more foreign direct investments.
As investing in high technology and automation is a long-term process and given the fact that 90% of plastics companies are SMEs, continued assistance and support from the government in the form of grants, incentives and financing is crucial. This will enable more plastics companies to have sufficient resources to invest in advanced machinery and new product development for sustainable growth.
The MIDA-MPMA Conference on Government Assistance featured sessions by speakers from MIDA, Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (IRBM), Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Berhad (MIDF), Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), United Overseas Bank Limited and TalentCorp Malaysia.
Malaysian plastics products exhibited resilience through the pandemic and continue a steady growth due to their properties and functionality as one versatile material despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As of June 2022, 33 projects were approved in this sub-sector with an accumulated investment of RM503.5 million.
Moving ahead, the synergies between MIDA and MPMA would continue for years to come to help in accelerating Malaysia’s advancement in the plastic industry.
NSW businesses seeking to commercialise their innovative ideas can now help tackle some of the State’s most complex challenges through the second round of the NSW Government’s Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) programme. As part of the programme, NSW Government agencies outline specific problem areas that need to be addressed, with small businesses given the opportunity to propose solutions.
The NSW Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology stated that the AU$12 million programme would provide small businesses with grants of up to AU$100,000 as part of the first phase, to work alongside the government and undertake feasibility studies into their proposed solutions.
The minister said that the programme aims to leverage the region’s local businesses to improve social, environmental, health and economic outcomes while also creating high-value jobs, which will help grow the economy and secure a brighter future for NSW.
The SBIR programme has already seen 10 new technologies, addressing a wide range of issues, progress to a proof-of-concept phase. This next round of the programme will deliver more solutions and outcomes for our community.
Challenge areas outlined for round two of the programme include:
- Biosecurity Surveillance Challenge– NSW Department of Primary Industries is seeking innovative technology solutions that leverage the power of citizen surveillance to more accurately identify and validate threats to the biosecurity of primary industries and the environment in NSW.
- School Zones Alerting System Challenge– Transport for NSW is seeking innovative solutions to improve the existing School Zones Alerting System to further improve road safety around schools.
- Vital Sign Monitoring Challenge– Corrective Services NSW is seeking non-invasive technology solutions to monitor the vital health signs of inmates while in their cells. This technology will be used to monitor ‘at-risk’ inmates and help prevent inmates from committing self-harm, which could result in suicide.
- Recycled Content Verification Challenge– The Office of Energy and Climate Change is seeking a solution that could trace and verify recycled material to help NSW Government agencies procure local recycled products.
- Waste Recovery and Management Challenge– NSW Health is seeking resource recovery technologies and waste management solutions that: offer an innovative design for new facilities; redesign and reconfigure existing facilities; and uncover ways of modernising our waste collection and processing systems separation and collection of waste that can be implemented across NSW Health.
- Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Services Challenge– NSW Health is seeking Artificial Intelligence powered solutions to support the delivery of health services to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities.
- Urban Heat Island Challenge– the Greater Cities Commission is seeking innovative solutions that could be trialled at the Westmead Health and Innovation District to mitigate urban heat island effects and/or improve the resilience of our systems in response to extreme heat events.
The NSW Minister for Small Business noted that the programme harnesses the power of local innovation and supports small businesses by investing in ideas to grow high-tech industries now and into the future. He added that small businesses are a vital pillar of the State’s economy, and this funding will help many SMEs realise their potential and make the difficult leap from great ideas to commercial products and services that meet critical needs.
Creating the next generation of tech leaders, entrepreneurs and experts are at the heart of the new Computing Technologies curriculum released. It comes as part of the NSW government’s ongoing delivery of the most comprehensive Curriculum Reform in a generation.
The Minister for Education and Early Learning said the updated curriculum ensures students are prepared for future jobs in a fast-changing digital world. She added that students must develop an understanding of essential computing skills to not only keep themselves safe in a digital world but also to thrive in the careers of the future.
Through these new syllabuses, students, right from the beginning of school, will be able to develop fundamental skills in coding, cyber security, and information systems for businesses. The curriculum has also been updated to better reflect the latest computing technologies and the expectations of the industry so that we create the next generation of tech-savvy experts here in NSW.
The new Enterprise Computing and Software Engineering syllabuses for Years 11 to 12 will also see secondary students sitting more HSC exams online in 2025. The NSW government is updating subjects and the HSC to be more suited to the modern era with new syllabuses that align with a fast-changing digital world.
If the HSC qualification is to remain a world-class qualification, it is essential that it is modernised. Currently, there is only one subject that has an exam conducted on a computer. However, this will be expanded to reflect the increasingly online world.
The region’s Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government said the NSW government is committed to providing the State with the skills for the 21st century. The aim is for NSW kids to have the world at their fingertips and this initiative will help the government build a digital workforce of the future.
Key features of the new syllabuses include:
- A greater focus on cyber safety and cyber security content.
- Closer links to learning in other subjects such as maths and science to create clearer pathways into future STEM study and careers.
- All senior secondary students will do a new mandatory project as part of the school-based assessment to support deeper learning and the development of project skills.
New streamlined Geography 11 to 12 syllabuses have also been delivered, removing clutter, and allowing teachers to focus on essential learning so students gain the skills, knowledge and understanding to be informed, global citizens. Additionally, the NSW government has released new Classical and Modern Languages syllabuses for Kindergarten to Year 10.
The NSW Education Standards Authority, which is responsible for delivering NSW Curriculum Reforms, will provide schools with support materials as they implement new syllabuses and prepare for online HSC exams. The new syllabuses are available on the Digital Curriculum platform launch for teachers to plan during 2023 and will be taught in NSW schools from 2024.
Syllabus development process
Development of K–12 syllabuses
The NSW government’s response to the Curriculum Review requires NESA to develop more than 200 new syllabuses between 2021 and 2024. The government has streamlined and refined the existing syllabus development process to meet the government-mandated timelines. This includes processes for prioritisation, development, and approval of syllabuses.
In 2021, the refined syllabus development process for the new K–2 English and Mathematics syllabuses was successfully piloted. To ensure it was scalable and fit-for-purpose for the remaining K–12 syllabuses, feedback from stakeholders was considered. The new syllabus development process retains rigour while providing the flexibility required for developing the remaining K–12 syllabuses.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) recently launched the fourth phase of the Digital Shakti Campaign, a pan-India project to digitally empower and upskill women in cyberspace. In line with its commitment to creating safe spaces for women and girls online, Digital Shakti 4.0 is focused on training women with digital skills and enabling them to stand up against any illegal/inappropriate activity online. NCW launched it in collaboration with CyberPeace Foundation and a social networking giant.
According to a press release, while addressing the audience the NCW Chairperson, Rekha Sharma, highlighted the efforts of the commission to empower women in every sphere across the nation. This new phase will prove to be a milestone in ensuring safe cyber spaces for women. Digital Shakti has been accelerating the digital participation of women by training them to use technology to their advantage and to keep themselves safe online. The project will continue to contribute towards the larger goal of fighting cyber violence against women and girls and making the Internet a safer space for them, Sharma said.
The launch was followed by an interactive panel discussion titled, “Safe Spaces Online Combatting Cyber-Enabled Human Trafficking and Combatting Other forms of Online Violence”. It offered a platform for experts from the industry, government, and academia to share opinions and address the issue of women’s safety online from several aspects and provide a holistic approach to ensure better cybersecurity for women.
Launched in June 2018, Digital Shakti aims to raise digital awareness among women in India and build resilience, and fight cybercrime in the most effective ways. Through this project, over 300,000 women have been made aware of cyber safety tips and tricks, reporting and redressal mechanisms, data privacy, and emerging technology. The third phase of the programme was started in March 2021. In this phase, a Resource Centre was also developed under the project to provide information on all the avenues of reporting in case a woman faces any cybercrime.
The government has launched several initiatives over the past few years to help increase the rate of digital literacy among all citizens as well as government officials. Earlier, OpenGov Asia reported that an e-learning portal for the Department of Posts was launched to enhance the competencies of about 400,000 rural postal service and departmental employees by providing them access to standardised training content online or in a blended campus mode. This will enable them to effectively deliver several government-to-citizen (G2C) services for enhanced customer satisfaction. The training videos and quizzes on the portal are available in 12 Indian languages.
After completing the final summative assessment, a system-generated course completion certificate will be sent to the trainee’s registered email ID automatically. Trainees can also submit feedback, ratings, and suggestions for all learning content.