What are the key initiatives you are driving within your department at the moment?
The ATO is transforming the way it operates; in 2015 we released a blueprint for our Reinvention. It describes the future experiences that the community will have with us, and ‘going digital’ is a major focus.
Under the banner of Reinventing the ATO, Contemporary Digital Services (CDS) is working on over 60 digital initiatives. These range from large foundation pieces, to specific improvements for particular client segments.
Reinventing and CDS supports the Australian Government’s Deregulation and Digital Transformation Agendas. We’re working closely with the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) and other government agencies, users and private sector partners to create services that are simpler, clearer and faster.
What is your and your department’s focus for the next 1–3 years?
Reinventing the ATOis a comprehensive program to bring a service-oriented focus to our business – reflecting what the community wants from us, an easy, quick and seamless experience.
We’re working with the community to find the best technologies to use, so we deliver digital services they need and want. By making it easy to interact with us, we hope to boost trust, confidence and voluntary participation in the tax and super system and so contribute to the economic and social well-being of all Australians.
Our ‘priority themes’ in CDS are:
- Improving identity and security
- Building contemporary online tools and services
- Integrating with natural systems
- Establishing the foundations for an integrated client account
- Supporting clients to transition
- Stabilising our environment
And projects under these themes are focussing on:
- Developing new solutions, so clients can choose from a suite of credentials that seamlessly support transactions across all roles and services from any device. For business clients, this includes supporting the creation of a whole-of- government account for businesses (similar to myGov for individuals), trialling the ability to link ABNs to myGov accounts, and working with software developers to enable secure client lodgements, without clients needing their own credential.
- Delivering digital options for all high-volume services and expanding our offer of mobile optimised services.
- Building an online environment where clients can manage all of their roles in one place, including those for which they have third party authorisation.
- Embedding services into software and other third party systems to streamline and automate reporting obligations, e.g. payroll events.
- Increasingly delivery of services via third parties (eg software, banking, point-of-sale).
- Progressing law change so all clients able to transact digitally are required to do so (Enabling Digital by Default).
- Connecting staff with technology that simulates the client experience.
- Providing clients with tools and services, that help them to navigate and use our digital services, whilst supporting and engaging with the community that cannot transition to digital.
Michelle Crosby talks about digital transformtion at the ATO
In terms of what you are currently working on –what is the outcome you are looking to achieve?
We want to establish ourselves as a global leader in the administration of tax and superannuation, recognised for our contemporary service, expertise and integrity. Reinventing the ATO is how we’ll achieve this; by transforming how our clients experience the tax and super systems.
We will underpin this through significant cultural change and improvements for our staff. We are:
- building a culture that embodies our values and transforms the client experience
- simplifying interactions, maximising automation and reducing costs
- connecting with the community and other agencies in meaningful ways
- influencing policy and law design for more certain outcomes
- using data in a smarter way to improve decisions, services and compliance
- reshaping our workforce to optimise capability and performance.
The delivery of contemporary digital services is critical to achieve this. We have already delivered a range of digital products and services that have changed the way our clients do business with us. We are building our capabilities so that we continue to provide a consistent, coordinated and enterprise wide approach to digital service delivery in the future.
How does it impact the citizens/community?
These changes look to offer benefits to the community, by offering an easier and more seamless interaction with government.
In line with the Digital Transformation Agenda, we are complying with the DTO’s Digital Service Standard. This outlines 13 criteria that Australian Government digital services must meet so our services are simpler, faster and easier to use. Meeting the criteria means we can consistently design, build and deliver high quality services and satisfy our users’ needs:
- Services that are: 1) real-time with 24/7 access, 2) enabling visibility of all tax and super affairs, 3) providing confidence and trust, 4) using natural systems and data and 5) integrated
- Timely support, education and advice on tax and super obligations
- Responding to and processing registration, reporting and payment of obligations
- Easier compliance by reducing regulatory burden
- Seamless, consistent transactional services for the community
We are engaging and consulting with the community as we develop and drive new initiatives, so we are sure we’re fulfilling their needs and are offering sufficient support and guidance as they’re released.
What is the timeframe for completion?
There is no specific timeframe for completion. We are already working from the Reinventing blueprint and expect to deliver changes progressively over the years ahead. Some have already happened, others will happen in the near future and other changes will take longer – and delivery will be influenced by many factors, including legislative direction, finance and our work with other agencies.
Our plans will evolve as community expectations change and new opportunities are presented through technology.
Ultimately, the true measure of success of our reinvention will be client satisfaction and participation in the tax and super systems.
How is the CDS program of work being funded?
The CDS program of work is funded by a mix of government funding for initiatives such as Single Touch Payroll and internally funded for work, where we are driving and improving client experiences and outcomes.
The 2015–16 ATO budget provided $254.7m over four years from 2015–16, to support the initial implementation of the Digital Transformation Agenda. This includes $95.4m to fund the operation of the DTO as well as funding for the projects that form stage one of the agenda.
Digital technologies will eliminate or automate a range of simpler interactions, thus allowing staff to focus on value-added services that promote compliance.
Are you the first in market or is there another government agency or other countries that are embarking on similar projects?
We are working very closely with other Australian Government agencies and private sector partners to produce and develop these initiatives.
Our work will integrate change across government, supporting the effective delivery of whole-of- government services, and support the transition of clients to a digital-by-default environment.
Voice authentication, for example, was implemented in September 2014 and is the largest and most advanced in Australia. In fact, it’s one of the most advanced voice technology implementations in the world. This technology allows clients to verify their identity over the phone, and on our app using their voice. This technology offers a more secure, and much more convenient, call, and online experience for our clients.
We have been externally recognised for our voice authentication solution. We won the National Innovation award in 2015 at the Auscontact Association awards in Sydney. We were also recognised in the Australian Business Awards – for Outstanding Achievement through Innovation for Voice Authentication.
Work is underway to make voice authentication available across government.
Is this a standalone project or done in collaboration with another agency?
As mentioned above, we are working closely with other agencies to develop digital solutions and services.
While CDS and the projects under its umbrella are part of Reinventing the ATO, the drivers for improving and expanding our digital services go beyond what is documented in the Reinventing blueprint.
Improving the digital services we offer, and the experience our clients have, is something the whole Australian Government is working towards. The DTO was set up to lead this and work with all government agencies.
We work closely with the DTO and other Australian Government agencies, such as the Department of Human Services (DHS) to deliver a whole-of-government business and technology architecture that will simplify service delivery and make access to government services more convenient. The DTO created a network of Digital Transformation Coordinators in every agency to ensure a whole-of-government approach.
How will you determine ROI for this project –are they any matrices in place?
Our digital transformation is already well underway, and we are already seeing the benefits of reducing paper transactions and red tape for the community.
The Digital Service Standard requires regular reporting on 4 key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the ongoing performance of our service:
- User satisfaction– are users happy with the service you’ve provided? This is determined using web metrics and user research
- Digital take-up– the percentage of your target take-up audience that you have reached
- Completion rate– the percentage of completed transactions out of started transactions
- Cost per transaction– the total estimated cost of your service per month (this varies for some services) divided by the number of completed transactions.
In addition, the DTO has other metrics that our service needs to measure and monitor to understand how we are performing:
- error rates
- time to completion
- costs, benefits and return on investment
- content metrics (readability, length)
We are working with the DTO to ensure we align any new and redesigned services with the Digital Service Standard.
By embedding and complying with the standard we will consistently provide high quality services, satisfy our users’ needs, and protect the integrity of our services”.
What are your thoughts on innovation, the future direction of technology and government transformation?
Digital technology is rapidly evolving. We and other government agencies will need to be flexible in order to adapt.
We need to understand what tax administration will look like in 5–10 years when digital will be a way of operating and is ingrained in an organisation’s business model and processes.
It is impossible to predict what technology will emerge but we need to be in a position to leverage opportunities and respond to risks and threats quickly.
By embedding in natural systems we will change how tax is administered and we want to make it as easy as possible for clients to get things done. Our aim is to offer services where there is minimal need to report or transact with us directly. We’ll need to create a digital by default environment for clients to interact with us (irrespective of legislation).
Breakthrough Victoria has unveiled investment partnerships totalling AU$ 87 million with five universities, geared toward facilitating the transition of transformative research from the laboratory to the marketplace. Swinburne University of Technology is set to co-invest AU$ 9 million, a sum reciprocated by Breakthrough Victoria, aimed at fostering the creation of novel ventures that will accelerate the commercialisation of research endeavours. This investment bolsters Swinburne University of Technology’s capacity to propel innovation and instils confidence among its researchers that their pioneering ideas can be translated into tangible realities.
Under these partnerships, each entity will funnel investments into startup companies originating from research initiatives, with pre-seed and seed funding capacities of up to AU$ 1 million per venture.
The official announcement was made by the Minister of Industry and Innovation during the inauguration of the Global Entrepreneurship Conference in Melbourne, a gathering that drew more than 4,000 investors and entrepreneurs from across the globe.
These alliances are being established as part of the ambitious AU$100 million Breakthrough Victoria – University Innovation Platform which was designed to elevate the level of commercialisation of pivotal research, characterised by its real-world applicability and benefits from Victorian universities.
The capital injections into startups during this critical nascent stage will serve as pivotal financial support, facilitating the development of product concepts, prototypes, and trials that are essential for research with strong commercial viability. Moreover, researchers and academics will receive dedicated support to enhance their ability to identify and effectively translate innovative ideas into commercially viable opportunities, thereby augmenting their entrepreneurial capabilities. The specifics of these partnership agreements have been tailored in collaboration with each respective university, thereby addressing the unique needs and the specific stage of their research commercialisation journey.
The co-investment partnership is expected to fuel innovation across a spectrum of industries, with a particular focus on aerospace, healthcare, sustainability, and manufacturing. These sectors, all intricately linked with technology, stand to benefit significantly from the injection of capital into startups that are on the cusp of technological breakthroughs. Such investments will not only drive product development but also foster technological advancement and drive economic growth.
One of the key benefits of this collaboration is the ability to transform research concepts into tangible products and services. Often, groundbreaking research remains confined to the academic realm due to a lack of resources for development and commercialisation.
However, with this co-investment initiative, researchers will have access to the funding necessary to bring their ideas to life. This is particularly relevant in the tech sector, where rapid innovation is critical, and timely investment can be the difference between an idea’s success and its stagnation.
Furthermore, this initiative acknowledges the pivotal role that universities play in fostering innovation. Universities are often hubs of research and development, where cutting-edge ideas are born. However, bridging the gap between academic research and commercial viability can be challenging.
With the partnership between Swinburne University of Technology and Breakthrough Victoria, there is a concerted effort to facilitate this transition. This not only benefits the university but also the broader tech ecosystem by ensuring that innovative ideas reach the market.
Moreover, the support provided to researchers and academics to enhance their entrepreneurial capabilities is a crucial aspect of this initiative. In the tech sector, it’s not just about having a great idea; it’s also about understanding how to bring that idea to market successfully.
This includes aspects like intellectual property management, market research, and business development strategies. The co-designed partnership agreements consider the specific needs and stage of research commercialisation, ensuring that the support provided is tailored to maximise the chances of success, especially in tech-related ventures.
The new Centre for Paramedicine, housed within the dedicated capability hub at Victoria University in Sunshine, is a testament to the commitment of the government to provide top-notch training for paramedics, OpenGov Asia earlier reported.
The Minister for Ambulance Services inaugurated the pioneering capability hub, a first of its kind in Australia. During the event, she met a group of 54 recently graduated paramedics who will receive training at the hub before embarking on their missions to provide essential care to the people of Victoria.
The University of Wollongong (UoW) has received a financial boost from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, to further support Indigenous students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. This significant contribution underscores a commitment to fostering Indigenous talent in the technology sector and ensuring a brighter future for these students.
The CSIRO Indigenous STEM Scholarship was initially established in 2019 with an initial gift of AU$ 30,000 from CSIRO. This initial funding aimed to support two Indigenous STEM students throughout their academic journeys. However, this commitment has now been elevated to an even more profound level. CSIRO has pledged an additional AU$ 500,000, ensuring that the scholarship will be awarded in perpetuity. This signifies a long-term partnership between CSIRO and UOW in nurturing and empowering Indigenous students in their pursuit of STEM education.
The primary objective of this partnership is to empower Indigenous students who are undertaking full-time degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics by providing financial support. Each year, one deserving student will be awarded AU$ 5,000 throughout the duration of their degree. This financial assistance not only eases the financial burden on the students but also allows them to fully concentrate on their academic and career goals within the tech and science sectors.
The 2021 recipient of the CSIRO Indigenous STEM Scholarship serves as an example of the positive impact of this initiative. The recipient noted that the financial assistance provided by the CSIRO scholarship allowed her to reduce her work commitments and allocate more time to engage in meaningful activities that can positively impact her career and well-being.
The Director of Indigenous Science and Engagement at CSIRO who is also a Gamillaroi man emphasised the importance of growing an Indigenous STEM pipeline, which not only benefits the science and technology sector but also the broader community. He noted that the development of an Indigenous STEM pipeline holds the potential to facilitate the engagement of the science and technology sector, with a particular focus on CSIRO, in integrating Indigenous talent, incorporating Indigenous knowledge and expertise, and nurturing successful careers in science and research for individuals of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.
UOW’s Vice-Chancellor and President highlighted the critical role that STEM fields play in shaping the future of communities, economies, and nations and praised the power of philanthropy in enriching the lives of Indigenous students.
CSIRO scholarships will provide students with the opportunity to delve deeper into their STEM interests, which are crucial for the future of communities, the economy, and the nation, all while alleviating the burden of financial stress. She underscored the profound and positive influence of this substantial investment, paving the way for Indigenous students towards a promising and prosperous future in technology and science-related domains.
The Vice-President for Indigenous Strategy and Engagement and Director of Woolyungah Indigenous Centre at UOW celebrated the increased financial support from CSIRO, recognising the importance of nurturing Indigenous students’ interest in thriving STEM industries.
CSIRO’s collaboration with UOW will authentically empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to reach their full potential, address the significant challenges of the future, and emerge as leaders in STEM disciplines. Sustained partnerships and scholarship commitments will open tangible avenues for Indigenous students to engage with ongoing projects and research, ultimately influencing their communities and shaping the nation’s future.
This partnership between CSIRO and the University of Wollongong signifies a remarkable commitment to fostering Indigenous talent in STEM fields. The significant financial support provided by CSIRO not only eases the financial burden on Indigenous students but also empowers them to pursue their passions and become leaders in technology and science-related fields. This collaboration highlights the tech sector’s dedication to creating opportunities for Indigenous students and recognising the essential role of Indigenous knowledge in advancing STEM disciplines.
OpenGov Asia reported that New South Wales (NSW) is partnering with key stakeholders, including universities and businesses, to develop an Innovation Blueprint aimed at revitalising the state’s innovation sector. The backdrop for this initiative is the stagnation in university-industry collaboration and the lack of progress in commercialising research outcomes, as highlighted by the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council. Simultaneously, R&D intensity in the region has been declining, emphasising the need for strategic interventions.
ANSTO has received a substantial allocation of Federal Government funding, marking a significant development in the effort to ensure the continued production of crucial nuclear medicines in Australia. At the Lucas Heights campus of ANSTO, the plans for a state-of-the-art Nuclear Medicine Facility were unveiled by the Minister for Industry and Science. This new facility will replace the ageing Nuclear Medicine Processing and Distribution Facility, which was initially established in 1959 for research purposes.
On a weekly basis, ANSTO plays a pivotal role in producing nuclear medicines that facilitate between 10,000 and 12,000 medical procedures across Australian hospitals and clinics. Over the years, ANSTO has expanded its production capabilities to encompass various nuclear medicines, making it the primary supplier of approximately 75%-80% of nuclear medicines used in Australia. Among the critical substances they produce is molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), dispatched into ANSTO’s Gentech® Generators. Mo-99 naturally decays into technetium-99 (Tc-99m), the most widely used radioisotope in nuclear medicine worldwide.
The Lucas Heights campus of ANSTO houses a nuclear medicine precinct comprising three key facilities: the OPAL multipurpose research reactor, the Molybdenum-99 Manufacturing Facility, and the ageing Nuclear Medicine Processing and Distribution Facility.
Alongside the Minister, the Acting CEO for ANSTO expressed his appreciation for the enhanced funding aimed at securing Australia’s sovereign capabilities in domestic nuclear medicine manufacturing. He emphasised that the new Nuclear Medicine Facility represents a critical advancement in the technological aspect of nuclear medicine production.
This purpose-built facility will establish a more sophisticated nuclear medicine precinct that streamlines the manufacturing and distribution chain. It is designed to provide ANSTO with the flexibility required to adapt to evolving manufacturing technologies and cater to the changing demands of the radiopharmaceutical market. This flexibility is especially crucial as the rates of diagnosis for illnesses such as cancer continue to rise. Moreover, the facility will empower ANSTO to meet the surging demand for nuclear medicines from hospitals and medical clinics while also capitalizing on ANSTO’s radiopharmaceutical research and development and collaborations within the medical industry.
The current facility, where the final production stage of most of ANSTO’s nuclear medicines occurs before dispatch, is an ageing structure originally constructed as a research laboratory in the late 1950s. Despite extensive renovations and modifications to transform it into a nuclear medicine manufacturing facility, it is nearing the end of its operational lifespan. The funding received will not only support the construction of the new Nuclear Medicine Facility but also facilitate the ongoing maintenance of the existing facility until the new one becomes operational, which is expected in the mid-2030s.
The Federal Government’s allocation of funds to ANSTO represents a significant technological leap forward in ensuring the continued production of life-saving nuclear medicines in Australia. The establishment of the new Nuclear Medicine Facility at the Lucas Heights campus is a critical step toward modernizing the production process, enhancing flexibility, and meeting the growing demand for nuclear medicines while bolstering research and development efforts in the field of radiopharmaceuticals. This investment not only secures Australia’s sovereign capabilities but also reinforces its position in the global nuclear medicine industry.
The Federal Government’s funding allocation for ANSTO’s new Nuclear Medicine Facility at Lucas Heights aligns with Australia’s tech goals by promoting innovation in healthcare technology, fostering collaboration within the medical industry, enhancing sovereign capabilities, and supporting research and development in radiopharmaceuticals.
It also ensures technological resilience, strengthens global competitiveness, and underscores the importance of long-term planning for critical technology infrastructure. This investment signifies the government’s commitment to leveraging technology to advance healthcare and bolster Australia’s position in the global technology landscape while addressing national security concerns related to nuclear medicine production.
OpenGov Asia reported that the Government of Western Australia is taking steps to promote the growth of small to medium-sized local businesses by offering grants totalling over AU$3 million. These grants are intended to enhance their capabilities and competitiveness, enabling them to pursue contracts from both the government and private sector.
Known as the Local Capability Fund (LCF), this initiative serves as a crucial resource for recipients looking to expand their capacity and improve their competitiveness in supplying goods, services, and works to the government, major projects, and other significant markets.
An innovator in artificial intelligence (AI) for robotic and navigation technologies has unveiled a cutting-edge AI robotics facility for autonomous systems situated at UTS Tech Lab. Located in Botany, New South Wales (NSW), this facility is designed to expand the production of the company’s groundbreaking navigation systems for GPS-denied environments, including its digital fibre-optic gyroscope (DFOG) technology.
The company holds a unique position globally, being one of only four companies capable of manufacturing strategic-grade fibre-optic gyroscopes. This technology plays a pivotal role in enabling dependable navigation for a wide range of applications, spanning marine vessels, space missions, aerospace, defence, autonomous vehicles, and flying taxis. The company leverages its distinctive AI-based physics algorithms to address intricate challenges both on Earth and in space.
This state-of-the-art robotics facility for autonomous systems signifies a significant transformation in sovereign manufacturing, driven by advanced technologies such as AI, automation, and precision engineering. In the realm of autonomous systems, precision and reliability are paramount, and the facility, following a vertical integration model, is equipped with machinery and processes for automated manufacturing supported by machine learning. This guarantees the consistent production of reliable, resilient, and high-quality navigation systems.
Moreover, the company’s initiative aligns with the Federal Government’s ongoing commitment to cultivating a diverse STEM workforce, as it is poised to stimulate job growth in areas such as robotics, manufacturing, photonics, mechatronics, mechanical engineering, and related fields.
Additionally, the facility will serve as a hub for extensive research collaborations between the company and UTS Tech Lab. This collaboration is set to expedite the commercialisation of various socially impactful technologies, including:
- The LiDAV system, which offers precise three-dimensional velocity and altitude information for lunar exploration, enhancing autonomous landing procedures and exploration on the moon.
- Cloud Ground Control, a groundbreaking cloud-based solution enabling remote command and control of uncrewed vehicles across air, land, and sea, facilitating real-time monitoring and data management for applications in search and rescue, emergency response, and disaster relief.
- An indoor positioning technology developed by the company to assist visually impaired individuals in navigating safely within underground train stations, as part of the NSW Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program.
According to Xavier Orr, Co-founder and CEO of Advanced Navigation, there exists a pressing necessity to enhance Australia’s economic complexity and sovereign capabilities. He emphasises the importance of bolstering industrial capacity in high-tech sectors, promoting knowledge exchange, and fostering collaborative efforts among government agencies, academic institutions, and industry leaders.
The Co-founder and CEO of the company underscored the innovator’s mission to commercialise technologies that can tackle significant global challenges.
The Vice-Chancellor and President of UTS conveyed UTS’s enthusiasm for collaborating with the company to explore crucial growth areas such as AI, robotics, and space technologies. He emphasised the collaborative effort between UTS’s esteemed global research leaders in autonomous systems technology and Advanced Navigation’s proficient team of scientists and engineers.
The use of UTS Tech Lab’s advanced facilities and their joint commitment to enhancing sovereign capabilities for defence and space were also highlighted. He looks forward to expanding collective capabilities with the company to accelerate the development of impactful innovations.
The collaboration aligns closely with the goals of the Australian government to enhance the nation’s economic resilience and sovereign capabilities. By focusing on high-tech industrial capacity, knowledge exchange, and collaborative initiatives, the partnership contributes to building a robust foundation for innovation and self-reliance. It strengthens Australia’s position in critical sectors like AI, robotics, and space technologies, which are pivotal for national security and economic growth. This aligns with the government’s strategy to invest in advanced technology sectors and cultivate a skilled workforce, ultimately fostering economic complexity and ensuring Australia’s competitiveness on the global stage.
OpenGov Asia reported that Western Sydney University entered into a collaborative partnership with an automation company and an Australian non-profit organisation dedicated to robotics. This agreement aims to foster innovation, facilitate joint research endeavours, and promote collaboration in line with their shared regional vision for western Sydney.
The University of Sydney has acquired an advanced 360-degree rotating cockpit simulator, enabling students and researchers to replicate the experience of piloting various aircraft, including A380s and spacecraft. Located within the School of Aerospace, Mechanical, and Mechatronic Engineering, this New Zealand-manufactured simulator, called the Eight360 NOVA Simulator, is the sole one of its kind in Australian universities.
This cutting-edge simulator uses virtual reality technology, providing students and researchers with a comprehensive understanding of how theoretical concepts and design choices impact aircraft behaviour. It enhances the learning and research process by providing a hands-on experience and immersing students in flight operations environments.
What sets this simulator apart from traditional flight simulators is its unlimited rotational axes, allowing for complex manoeuvres like spins and inverted flight. This capability empowers researchers to gain insights into how both aircraft and humans perform in challenging conditions, as well as to test and pilot vehicles they’ve designed.
The simulator operates “untethered” thanks to a freely movable ball resting on rollers that are powered by electric motors, enabling precise control over the ball’s positioning at varying speeds. As pilots manipulate the controls, the ball adjusts its position to mimic the orientation and acceleration of a real-flight vehicle.
Associate Professor Nicholas Lawson, who heads the Aircraft Performance and Operations department and joined the university in 2021, emphasized the importance of the simulator in bridging the gap between theoretical study and practical experience in aerospace and aeronautics.
One of the benefits highlighted by a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering student is the simulator’s immersive experience, significantly enhancing her understanding of aerospace and space engineering. The student, who is also representing the university at an international space conference, praised the simulator as an excellent hands-on complement to theoretical learning.
Furthermore, the simulator holds potential for simulating space environments, including the control of crewed vehicles on planetary surfaces, a development area led by Visiting Professor Gregory Chamitoff, a former NASA Astronaut.
The acquisition of the advanced 360-degree rotating cockpit simulator by the University of Sydney reflects the Australian government’s interests in promoting STEM education, fostering innovation, and developing the aerospace industry. This cutting-edge technology not only attracts students to STEM disciplines but also contributes to the growth of the country’s aerospace sector.
Additionally, the simulator’s potential for international collaboration in space-related research and its capacity to develop a highly skilled workforce aligns with the government’s goals for innovation, technology transfer, and workforce development. While primarily an academic asset, this initiative indirectly supports broader national objectives in education, industry, and international engagement.
OpenGov Asia reported earlier that the Aerostructures Innovation Research (AIR) Hub’s AIR Pass initiative is playing a crucial role in fostering innovation and growth within the aerospace and aviation sectors. This programme is tailored to assist startup companies as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in advancing their aerospace and aviation projects. The AIR Pass programme offers a comprehensive package that includes expert technical guidance, prototyping resources, and financial support for a span of up to six months for successful applicants.
Through close collaboration, the AIR Hub’s experts have played a pivotal role in the rapid design, production, and delivery of the EPS test rig. This intensive development phase, spanning just four months, culminated in the lead-up to the Avalon Airshow. The successful delivery of the EPS and accompanying test infrastructure for commercial demonstration marked a significant achievement.
SmartSat has approved Project P2.59 led by the University of Sydney’s AMME School, aiming to develop an advanced robotic satellite system with AI, sensing, and control capabilities. Collaborating with Sydney-based robotics startups, this project addresses challenges in close proximity satellite operations, driven by the harsh space environment and increased space debris.
The focus of Project P2.59 is on enhancing onboard autonomy, sensing, perception, and control systems. It will culminate in a ground-based ISAM mission demonstration showcasing satellite proximity operations, docking, and maintenance tasks. This project aligns with the growing ISAM industry, attracting government and private sector investments, and aims to establish Australia’s capabilities and unique advantages in this space.
Advanced Robotics and AI
The project aims to create autonomous robotic satellites empowered by cutting-edge robotics and AI. These satellites can make real-time decisions, adapt to dynamic conditions, and operate without constant human intervention, improving efficiency, especially in close-proximity scenarios.
Sensing and Perception
Project P2.59 emphasises advanced sensing and perception. It deploys state-of-the-art sensors to capture real-time data, enabling informed decisions based on the satellite’s surroundings. This capability is crucial for safety and mission success.
Robust control mechanisms are essential for reliability and safety in satellite operations, navigating challenges in the space environment. These mechanisms provide precision and agility for close proximity, docking, and maintenance tasks.
Demonstration of Capabilities:
A key milestone is the ground-based ISAM mission demonstration, showcasing various operations, including proximity manoeuvres, docking, and simulated maintenance tasks. It highlights the project’s expertise and commitment to advancing Australia’s ISAM capabilities.
Significance of ISAM:
ISAM is a burgeoning sector globally, attracting substantial investments. It extends satellite lifespan and opens new mission possibilities. Australia’s strategic position in this field is reinforced by Project P2.59.
Australia’s Strategic Position
The project positions Australia as a key player in the evolving space industry. It seeks to meet sovereign space needs and provide unique technological advantages as space technologies evolve.
Project P2.59, led by the University of Sydney’s AMME School, in collaboration with Sydney-based robotics startups, focuses on developing advanced robotic satellite capabilities through AI, sensing, and control technologies. It addresses challenges in close-proximity satellite operations and aligns with the growing ISAM industry, enhancing Australia’s position in the global space sector.
OpenGov Asia reported earlier that the Queensland Earth Observation Hub (QLD EO Hub) convened a workshop in Brisbane that served as a significant step in harnessing the potential of Earth Observation (EO) technologies, data, and workflows for the benefit of Australia.
The initial findings from a comprehensive market engagement study were presented. This study spanned a diverse range of EO and industry sectors and aimed to illuminate both the challenges and opportunities that Queensland, and by extension, the broader Australian landscape, faces in embracing EO technologies not only in the present but also in the foreseeable future.
This market study embarked on an extensive consultation process, engaging with stakeholders across urban and rural Queensland. It encompassed the entire spectrum of the EO ecosystem, from data and service providers to end-users, as well as those contemplating the utilisation of EO in the years ahead.
The core objective was to gain profound insights into the current capabilities, hurdles, and potential avenues for growth within Queensland’s EO community. Additionally, it sought to cultivate a vision of what the future could hold in terms of EO technology deployment.
Under the Government of Western Australia, the Carnarvon community, including growers, businesses, and residents, has experienced a transformative connection through the successful implementation of the Digital Farm Grants program.
A 63-metre tower was constructed and equipped with the necessary supporting infrastructure. This initiative has ushered in high-speed, enterprise-grade broadband internet access for agribusinesses and local communities within the Carnarvon Horticulture District and its adjacent areas.
The state government has awarded an AU$600,000 grant to a network company based in Bunbury. This grant was allocated as part of the second round of the Digital Farm Grants program, which has proven instrumental in bridging the digital divide in regional Western Australia.
In addition, the Shire of Carnarvon, local growers, and businesses have extended their support through both additional funding and in-kind contributions, underlining the collaborative spirit that has propelled this project to success.
This initiative will cover approximately 800 square kilometres, encompassing the entirety of the Shire of Carnarvon. Within this expansive coverage, over 180 agribusinesses and more than 2,900 private dwellings now have access to the newfound digital connectivity.
The Carnarvon Horticulture District is known for its diverse production of fruit and vegetable crops. Tomatoes, capsicum, table grapes, bananas, melons, eggplants, and mangoes are among the prominent crops cultivated in this district, contributing to an annual production value that exceeds AU$110 million.
The Regional Development Minister emphasised the pivotal role played by the Digital Farm Grants program in uniting businesses and communities in regional Western Australia. The program’s core objective of delivering fast, reliable, affordable, and scalable broadband services is particularly relevant in areas where conventional fixed-line and fixed wireless NBN services remain inaccessible.
The Carnarvon Horticulture District, a hub of irrigated agriculture, plays a vital role in supplying fresh produce to consumers in Perth and neighbouring regions. With the implementation of this significant infrastructure project, both local businesses and residents within the district and its surroundings stand to reap the benefits of a more dependable internet broadband service.
The Member for Mining and Pastoral stated that the construction of the new telecommunications infrastructure is set to usher in high-speed, enterprise-grade broadband internet access to approximately 180 agribusinesses and over 2,900 private dwellings in the region. This advancement represents a significant leap forward, enabling growers to harness the cutting-edge technology required to remain competitive and bolster profitability in today’s dynamic agricultural landscape.
The Government’s Digital Farm Grants program has ushered in a new era of connectivity and opportunity for the Carnarvon community.
OpenGov Asia reported earlier that the Government of Western Australia is taking steps to promote the growth of small to medium-sized local businesses by offering grants totalling over AU$3 million. These grants are intended to enhance their capabilities and competitiveness, enabling them to pursue contracts from both the government and private sector.
Known as the Local Capability Fund (LCF), this initiative serves as a crucial resource for recipients looking to expand their capacity and improve their competitiveness in supplying goods, services, and works to the government, major projects, and other significant markets.
For the upcoming fiscal year of 2023-2024, the government has announced four new LCF rounds, collectively amounting to AU$2.2 million in funding, with individual grants of up to AU$50,000. These four rounds are designed to cater to specific needs and priorities:
- Supplying Key Projects Round: This round aims to support businesses across the state in supplying essential goods and services to key government and private sector projects within priority sector markets.
- Aboriginal Business Round: This round is dedicated to businesses with a majority of Aboriginal ownership. It seeks to assist these enterprises in supplying goods, services and works to both the government and the private sector.
- National and International Standards Compliance Round: To ensure businesses adhere to the highest industry standards, this round provides financial assistance for engaging external experts to implement and obtain third-party certification for seven specific national and international standards.
- Digital Transformation Round (Upcoming): Soon, the LCF will introduce a Digital Transformation Round to provide initial support to eligible businesses in adopting and leveraging digital technologies and data. This round aims to advance the government’s understanding of digital needs in the business landscape.