Three years in the making: Australian Data Strategy launched

James Riley
Editorial Director

Three and half years after appointing an interim National Data Commissioner to build-out federal data policy frameworks, the government has launched the first ever Australian Data Strategy.

The strategy, which was substantially previewed two weeks ago by the Prime Minister in a speech to the Business Council of Australia, was officially unveiled by Employment minister Stuart Robert and Digital Economy Minister Jane Hume in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Robert said data was a national asset that when leveraged could deliver transformational benefits to citizens.

The Australian government had demonstrated this in the response to the initial COVID-19 outbreak, he said, using private and public data to respond to the health and economic impacts of the virus.

Data sharing
Data sharing: New Australian Data Strategy launched

The data strategy sets out the frameworks for data sharing across governments and is supposed to complement the federal government’s broader Digital Economy Strategy and its Digital Government Strategy.

You can download a copy of the Australian Data Strategy here. The specific program of actions that government plans to put in place between now and 2025 can be found here.

“Through the Strategy and accompanying Action Plan, we outline how we will create, use and share data across all levels of government, while maintaining the right safeguards to keep this data secure,” Mr Robert said.

The government is seeking public comment on the data strategy between now and the middle of next year and will review and adjust the strategy – publishing clarifications where necessary – by the end of the year. A full review of the operation of the strategy will then be conducted in 2025 with a new strategy put in place for the years to 2030.

“Enshrining the effective, safe, ethical and secure use of data as an important foundational tool for businesses, individuals, the non-government and government sectors in an Australian Data Strategy will help to support the government’s vision to become a modern data-driven society by 2030,” the strategy says.

“The document considers both public sector data, which is managed by the government, and data in the broader economy, where the Australian Government both enables data users and regulates its use and sharing to provide greater certainty in how people deal with their data.”

The data strategy and action plan do not introduce new regulations or legislation, but rather they align with a range of existing legislation, strategies, policies, and reviews which regulate data.

These include the Privacy Act 1988 (and its review, currently underway) and the Freedom of Information Act 1982; the Data Availability and Transparency Bill 2020 (the DAT Bill); the 2015 Public Data Policy Statement; the Digital Economy Strategy; the Cyber Security Strategy; the Productivity Commission’s 2017 Inquiry into Data Availability and Use; the Consumer Data Right; among many others.

The Australian Data Strategy has been launched in the same week that the newly-appointed National Data Commissioner Gayle Milnes started in the new role.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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