Australia forms cross-public sector digital panel to boost COVID-19 response

By on 22/05/2020 | Updated on 24/09/2020
One of the group’s missions will be to develop policies to help support the local technology sector. (Photo by Helena Lopes via Pexels).

The Australian government has formed a group of ministers drawn from federal and state administrations to strengthen tech-based services and businesses, supporting work to address COVID-19.

The senior officials – who will map the digital economy policies and support services needed to accelerate the digitisation and resilience of businesses in response to COVID-19 – met for the first time last week via video conference. They agreed to establish the Digital Economy and Technology Senior Officials Group to progress this work and to promote more connected digital economy and technology policies across the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.          

During the inaugural meeting, which was led by Karen Andrews, Commonwealth minister for industry, science and technology, the group resolved to improve the coordination of technology policy and tackle issues such as skills shortages and the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Andrews told The Australian Financial Review that, as well as developing policies to assist the development of the local technology sector, the group would look to harness the digital advances made by organisations to work remotely during the lockdown.

Better vertical connections

“Technology is going to drive economic growth as we come out the other side of this pandemic. This isn’t just about the technology sector, it’s about making all Australian businesses across all sectors more resilient, agile and productive through technology,” she said.

Emphasising the need to strengthen collaboration between national and regional bodies, she added: “For too long the Commonwealth and the states have been disconnected when it comes to technology and the digital economy – efforts have been duplicated and in some instances have competed with each other.”

The group will also draw up an AI and ‘autonomous systems capability’ map. According to the government website, the aim of the map will be to “highlight areas of strength and expertise and to drive greater collaboration domestically, and inform the promotion of Australia as a key location for research and development, and commercialisation in these areas”.  

Other priority areas include promoting pathways for digital and cybersecurity jobs; identifying technology-led deregulation projects to support the growth of Australia’s digital economy; and addressing digital inclusion by working to close the “digital divide”.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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