The Australian Digital Council has met for the last time before the federal election and a significant shake-up of its membership.
The council, formed last year and made up of Commonwealth, state and territory ministers with portfolio responsibility for digital transformation, met in Melbourne earlier this month. It was the council’s third and last meeting before the May 18 election.
It was also the last meeting to be chaired by federal digital transformation minister Michael Keenan, who is not re-contesting his seat of Stirling in Western Australia at the election.
At the meeting, ministers discussed the Digital Transformation Agency’s efforts to redesign government services around life events, improving government procurement arrangements, and addressing the digital divide in Australia.
The meeting also marked the first time Victor Dominello appeared in his new role as NSW Customer Service Minister, while Victoria’s ministerial representative, special minister of state Gavin Jennings, did not attend.
This was the second out of the three meetings that Mr Jennings could not attend, with a senior official again representing Victoria.
The Council talked about new ways to streamline how the general public interactions with the government on “life events”.
“By considering government services through the lens of a particular life event – such as, the birth of a child, death of a loved one, or looking for work – government services can be redesigned to be human-centred,” the communique said.
“Ministers noted the traditional approach to service design was limited by agency or jurisdictional silos, which increased the burden on the individual. However, by putting the person at the centre, ministers noted this would find new ways of meeting peoples’ needs.”
This was a major focus of the Digital Transformation Agency’s digital strategy, unveiled last year. The myGov portal is expected to be one of the first federal platforms to trial this new approach.
The Council also decided that a new joint Commonwealth, state and territory working group will be established to look at “streamlining and improving” government procurement arrangements.
“A common theme across all jurisdictions is the complexity and cost of government procurement arrangements,” it said. “It can be difficult and time-consuming for businesses to interact with governments at all levels.”
“The working group will liaise with the Australian Procurement and Construction Council and report on its findings later in 2019.”
The Council also flagged a renewed focus on bridging the digital divide.
“The Council noted the importance of ensuring no-one is left behind in the digital transformation of public services. This was of particular importance for jurisdictions with large regional and remote communities,” the communique said.
“Ministers discussed the range of digital inclusion initiatives already underway across jurisdictions and considered opportunities for further collaboration.
Ministers agreed to continue to prioritise digital inclusion when agreeing on future digital transformation initiatives.”
The Council’s next meeting will be decided after the federal election in May, but a number of new areas of focus were established.
These include the development of national API design guides to “simplify interactions between people, businesses and systems”, the scoping of a project to improve skilling projects in STEM, e-invoicing and e-planning and further collaboration on policy matters relating to “emerging technologies where national approaches are required”.
The Australian Digital Council met for the first time in September and was formally launched by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. It met again at the start of December.