Dominello to lead UNSW-UTS digital trust research hub

Former New South Wales customer service and digital minister Victor Dominello will lead a new digital trust research initiative between the University of NSW and the University of Technology Sydney in his first job since leaving politics.

Mr Dominello took up the position as inaugural director of the new Trustworthy Digital Society Hub on April 19 after a short four-week break following his retirement from politics at the March state election.

The hub, which has been designed and developed in collaboration with Mr Dominello, will draw upon the research of both UNSW and UTS, with the aim of building trust into citizen-centred digital platforms and services.

“We founded the Trustworthy Digital Society Hub to help create a world where individuals and communities can fully benefit from the opportunities of the digital age without sacrificing their privacy, security of fundamental rights,” Mr Dominello said.

“The hub will be a centre of innovation, bringing together researchers, technologists and policymakers to develop new digital technologies and practices that prioritise privacy, security and ethical considerations.

“It will serve as a trusted resource providing education, training and tools to help people understand the risks and benefits of digital technologies, and to make informed decisions about how to use them safely and responsibly.”

UNSW vice-chancellor and president Professor Attila Brungs, Victor Dominello, UTS vice-chancellor and president Professor Andrew Parfitt. Image: UNSW

As NSW’s first customer service and digital government minister, Mr Dominello regularly advocated the need to bake privacy and trust into digital services, including by giving individuals greater control over their data.

Such an approach is being taken with the state’s digital identity program, which newly appointed Customer Service and Digital Government minister Jihad Dib on Monday said was progressing to give people greater confidence in the personal information they share.

“Trust is best built if information that’s accessed on digital platforms remains owned by the consumer, regulated for the benefit of the consumer and is only held by third parties to serve the needs of the consumer,” Mr Dominello said.

UNSW vice-chancellor and president Professor Attila Brungs said Mr Dominello’s “proven track record in leading digital transformation in Australia” made him the perfect fit to lead the new Trustworthy Digital Society Hub.

“Victor was responsible for modernising the delivery of government services in NSW and has demonstrated in building NSW’s online customer services how technology can transform people’s lives for the better,” Professor Brungs said.

“UNSW looks forward to providing valuable guidance as part of this important collaboration, for individuals, government and industry and creating a true digital society.”

UTS vice-chancellor and president Professor Andrew Parfitt said the new hub would leverage UTS’s research capability, namely in the areas of responsible use of technology and the ethics of artificial intelligence led by former Australian Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow.

“It’s clear the role of technology in our lives will continue to grow, and it’s vitally important that people, government and business take a human-centred approach to developing the tools and capabilities to navigate the rapidly evolving tech landscape,” he said.

Mr Dominello, who has been appointed for a three-year term, said he is “delighted to be working with UNSW and UTS on this important initiative, which will… develop effective models to test, refine and innovate for the benefit of our community”.

In early March, Mr Dominello hinted at a possible move into the university sector. It is not clear if he remains in talks with federal Government Services minister Bill Shorten about a national role on digital.

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