GovHack winners revealed

Over a weekend in September, more than 1,250 people gathered at 26 locations across the country to take part in GovHack — Australia’s largest open data hackathon.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been involved in GovHack. Over the years, our staff have participated as competitors and organisers. This year, we came on board as the lead agency sponsor.

We wanted to support and showcase the value of open data, particularly for government. We are the custodians of data.gov.au. Not only it is the main source of open data for GovHack teams, it is Australia’s largest repository of open government data. data.gov.au contains over 70,000 datasets on everything from registers of baby names and native title claims through to science and research data such as phytoplankton monitoring of the River Murray.

We believe that quality open data has the power to build connections between government, private and research sectors and support evidence-based decision making.

As part of our sponsorship, we were given the opportunity to present one challenge and one bounty award to the participants.

Challenge: help government decide with data

Local, state and federal governments make decisions every day so our challenge was focused around decision-making. We wanted to see projects that used data to help government make evidence-based, informed decisions to deliver better services.

Crashboard

The winner of this challenge was Crashboard. The Crashboard team designed an interactive dashboard to help local and state governments decide how to invest into road safety upgrades. Using transport, crash, weather and population datasets, the dashboard ranks local areas in Victoria based on a ‘road safety’ score. The team proposed that these scores could be used by local councils to identify areas in need of road infrastructure upgrades and decide on potential solutions to reduce the crash-incidence rate and save the lives of Victorians.

Read more about Crashboard and watch the team’s video

Safer Evacuations

The runner up for this challenge was Safer Evacuations. The Safer Evacuations team developed a simulation tool to allow emergency management planners to model evacuation situations in urban environments. Using population, map and location data, the tool can test for building or environmental changes and plan for different emergency scenarios. The team imagined that these plans could be communicated in real-time for organisations like schools and embassies.

Read more about Safer Evacuations and view the team’s video

Bounty award: mix and mashup

We were looking for the best use of two or more data sets that might seem completely unrelated to each other, but can be brought together to inform great solutions.

Bubbles

The winner of our bounty award was Bubbles. The Bubbles team created a website of ‘empathy bubbles’ designed to build understanding between different demographics of people. They connected census, aged care, mental health and insolvency data to find unexpected similarities between different groups like young and old Australians.

Read more about Bubbles and watch the team’s video

Congratulations to everyone who took part in GovHack this year. The innovative and creative uses of open data were inspiring.

If you are an open data enthusiast like us, visit data.gov.au to join our online community.

Strengthening privacy under the TDIF

Digital identity will make it easier for people to prove who they are when using government services online.

The Trusted Digital Identity Framework sets out the rules and standards which must be followed by every organisation providing digital identity services.

This includes government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office, which will operate the myGovID identity provider, the Department of Human Services, which operate the identity exchange, as well as any private sector suppliers who join the program later on.

Protection of privacy has been a key consideration at all points during the development of the program, from the first policy documents to the technology we are testing with real people and businesses.

The framework builds on, and has requirements as least as strong as the:

  • Australian Privacy Principles and the Privacy Code
  • Information Security Registered Assessors Program
  • Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework and Information Security Manual
  • Australian Signals Directorate’s Essential 8 cyber security mitigations

It also requires participants to undertake independent security testing and assessments.

Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs)

Another way we are making sure digital identities are safe, secure and protect the privacy of their users is through independent assessments of the framework.

We have commissioned a multi-phase PIA process to help identify, assess and minimise privacy risks in the framework.

PIAs are an important step in the protection of privacy for projects that involve the handling of personal information.

These assessments provide an opportunity to make sure projects follow privacy laws and also help to identify potential impacts and mitigations that will address the expectations of the community.

Every part of the digital identity system will undergo its own PIA including myGovID and the identity exchange.

First assessment

We commissioned an independent privacy company to run a multi-phase PIA process, involving engagements with privacy commissioners, consumer groups and privacy advocates.

The initial PIA focused on the overall concept and design of the framework and made 23 recommendations.

We published the PIA and responded to its recommendations in May 2017.

Second assessment

Today we’re releasing the second PIA along with our responses to its recommendations.

This assessment focused on strengthening the privacy requirements of the framework, ensuring data quality and making sure users have a consistent experience.

A summary of the recommendations of the second PIA and our responses are included below.

The TDIF’s privacy requirements should be mandated

We agree that the TDIF could be strengthened through legal backing and we’re looking into this.

The identity exchange should only keep metadata for a short period of time

The identity exchange needs to keep metadata related to transactions:

  • to allow people to use the system
  • for evidence in investigations of complaints and fraud

We agree that there needs to be a time limit on how long metadata is kept for evidence in investigations of complaints and fraud. We’re looking into use cases to work out what a reasonable time limit should be.

The identity exchange and identity providers need to develop their own privacy policies

We agree and we will make this a requirement in the next iteration of the TDIF’s privacy requirements.

The TDIF’s restrictions on the use of biometrics should be mandated

We agree that the TDIF could be strengthened through legal backing and we’re looking into this.

The TDIF should outline a time period for the validity and renewal of identity credentials

We agree and we will include a time period in a future iteration of the TDIF’s proofing requirements.

Complaints should be responded to within 30 days

We agree that this would help to ensure a consistent experience for our users.

A committee of key stakeholder representatives should be able to participate in the development and implementation of the TDIF

We’ve consulted across privacy and community groups in the development of the TDIF and will be releasing the next part of the framework for consultation soon. We will make sure these groups are represented in the oversight of the TDIF.

The TDIF should be reviewed after 3 years

We’re planning to review the TDIF within 2 years after the first public beta service – issuing a tax file number using myGovID.

Moving forward

The governance and legal framework which supports digital identity will always include strong privacy protections embedded in robust rules or legislation.

Before they can join the identity federation, all identity service providers must complete their own PIAs and prove they are meeting privacy requirements.

As the digital identity pilot programs roll out, our user research continues. As part of that, we are focusing on how we can make it easier for users to understand how their identity information is used and make informed decision about how their information is used, and how we can improve privacy notices to make them more informative and effective.

Five years of WGEA data shows employer action has delivered results on so called gender pay gap

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) today released today which shows that over the last five years, employer action is improving workplace gender equality. The Agency’s Director, Libby Lyons, is launching the 2017-18 WGEA data at the National Press Club in Canberra today.

The WGEA data records a steady increase in the number of women in management roles and strong growth in employer action in areas such as overall gender equality policies and strategies, pay equity and flexible work.

The gender pay gap has declined every year and this year has seen the biggest single-year drop (down 1.1pp) in the average full-time total remuneration gender pay gap.

However, the data confirms that we still have a long way to go. There are pay gaps favouring men in every industry and occupation and women earn, on average, just 79% of men’s full-time total remuneration salaries.

The five-year data trends also show virtually no movement in gender segregation across Australian industries and little improvement in either access to paid parental leave or the representation of women at CEO level or on boards.

Ms Lyons said the Agency’s dataset shows that employer action has delivered real outcomes but that women still face considerable barriers in Australia’s workplaces.

“The five years of data collection demonstrates the value of measuring workplace gender equality. We have clear evidence that employer action delivers real results and we should recognise the great work many employers have done in addressing issues such as pay equity. As employers have taken action, the gender pay gap has declined and gender equality outcomes for women and men across Australia have improved.

“Another positive result is that women have increased their presence in management over the past five years. Women now comprise almost 40% of the managers in our dataset and almost a third of key management personnel, which is just under the CEO level, are now women.

“However, our data also highlights areas for improvement. Although the gender pay gap has narrowed every year, progress is too slow. Access to parental leave has not improved, with the provision of paid primary carer’s leave actually going backwards. The glass walls persist in industry segregation, which remains deeply entrenched in Australia. The glass ceiling is still a barrier for women at the CEO and board levels.

“The first five years of data shows where we are seeing positive change and where we need to make more effort. We now need even more employers to take action so that we can accelerate the momentum for gender equality in Australian workplaces,” said Ms Lyons.

LABOR WILL REVERSE MORRISON’S CUT TO FOODBANK

A Shorten Labor Government will reverse Scott Morrison’s $323,000 cut to Foodbank.

Foodbank is a food relief organisation that puts food on the table for hundreds of thousands of Australians in need – many of them children.

The organisation provides 67 million meals a year to charities across the country, as well as more than 1,750 schools. They are Australia’s largest food provider to schools for breakfast programs.

Foodbank does an extraordinary job partnering with the food and grocery industry to recover excess or unsaleable products that can be delivered to Australians in need. They work hard to distribute food and groceries with a value of more than $200 million.

They do not need much support from government, nor do they ask for much.

However, they rely on a relatively small amount of funding from the federal government to ensure there are no gaps in their supply of essential food items each day.

The Liberals’ cut puts Foodbank’s Key Staples Program at risk, which helps provide more than $8 million worth of essential food items for Australians.

This cut comes just six weeks from Christmas, and will be delivered during the holiday period – a difficult time for many vulnerable families.

The Government’s cut will have a major impact on Foodbank’s supplies, and risks compromising their ability to distribute emergency food relief during natural disasters.

It could mean that charities have to cut the number of meals they provide each day, vulnerable families miss out on groceries they rely on, and kids miss out on breakfast at school.

This is all about priorities. The Liberals care more about a tax giveaway to the big banks than helping Australians in need.

Labor urges Scott Morrison to acknowledge his government has made a big mistake and reverse this decision. This is not an issue to be stubborn and arrogant about.

If Mr Morrison refuses to reverse his cut, a Shorten Labor Government will.

Labor will make sure our charities have the resources they need to support our fellow Australians, especially children.

LABOR WILL GIVE MORE PARALYMPIANS ACCESS TO THE BOMBERS’ HANGAR

More Paralympic athletes will be given the opportunity to train at Essendon Football Club’s world-class home base, The Hangar, with a Shorten Labor Government to invest $4 million to support the expansion of disability sport programs.

The Essendon Football Club has established a successful partnership with the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC), enabling Paralympic athletes to use the facilities throughout the year.

Labor’s investment will strengthen this partnership with the construction of wheelchair-accessible dormitory accommodation, improving access to facilities at The Hangar for athletes with disabilities, reducing APC program operating costs and providing new opportunities for disability sport participation, and talent identification activities.

The accommodation will support national wheelchair basketball, rugby and table tennis programs and also enable national camps for summer Paralympic sports including football, volleyball, boccia, goalball.

More than 160 additional para-sport athletes will be able to participate and the dormitories will also support multi-sport Para talent development and wheelchair Aussie rules camps.

This investment supports Essendon’s expansion of The Hangar, with new and enhanced facilities and a dedicated space for the APC Sport Hall of Fame to showcase the history of the Paralympic movement in Australia.

This builds on Labor’s record of supporting Paralympians and disability sport access.

In Government, Labor invested $6 million in the ground-breaking partnership between Essendon and the APC, which has seen the club provide the APC with administration, training and recovery facilities at no charge.

This partnership has enabled the APC and partner para-sports to deliver more funding directly to programs supporting Australia’s elite and aspiring athletes with disabilities.

Labor has today committed to invest in further strengthening that partnership, to improve and increase the resources available to Australia’s para-athletes.

Labor’s investment will mean current and future generations of para-sport athletes have access to the world-class facilities and support that matches their world-class talent.

Greens Suggest Supposed Gender pay gap won’t close for decades without leadership

The latest scorecard from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows an alarming continuation of the gender pay gap that won’t be closed for decades, Greens spokesperson for women, Senator Larissa Waters said.

“We’ve still got a 16.2 per cent gap in what men and women get paid – it’s clearly still far better to be a bloke in this country when it comes to salary,” Senator Waters said.

“There has been a small, welcome decline overall, but the fact men still earn $25000 more every year on average than women is outrageous.

“There is no good reason for that and the only explanation for it is sexism.”

Senator Waters said the report shows while more employers are conducting pay gap analyses, more than 40 per cent are still not following them up with action.

“The WGEA needs to be given more teeth to force employers to plug the ‘action gap’ once they realise they have a pay gap,” Senator Waters said.

“The Greens’ bill to ban ‘pay gag clauses’ which are used to disguise the gender pay gap would also help, as would our plans to encourage more men to take parental leave, boost women’s financial security and make workplaces more family friendly.

“We need leadership on this issue but instead we have a PM who hasn’t said a word on gender quality, not even on the epidemic of domestic violence which is killing more than one woman a week.

“If Mr Morrison can’t stand up for 50 per cent of the population he has no place being Prime Minister. He should stop delaying his inevitable sacking by the Australian people and call an election.”

There is however a growing increasingly vocal argument that the so-called gender pay gap is simply an invention of those trying to advance their political careers making use of the women’s movement. Other spokes people point to the “lazy” choices that women make during their career and the failure of many women to achieve academically at the same level as men as the real cause of pay disparity. The people pushing this agenda would have women who have both not achieved at the same level paid the same automatically and those who choose family time over their career the same. Put simply women often get paid less because they often work less.

 

Greens say Foodbank funding cuts are a cruel blow to regional communities doing it tough

Funding cuts to Foodbank are cruel and will be a significant blow to Victoria’s regional communities doing it tough and suffering through drought, say the Greens.

“These cuts are unnecessary and cruel, and they will have a significant impact on people who are struggling in Victoria’s rural and regional communities,” said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens agriculture and rural affairs spokesperson.

“We have a government that is going around spruiking how much it’s doing for drought-affected farmers and communities, at the same time they’re slashing funding to Foodbank, which provides 67 million meals per year.”

“More than 1.5 million people living in remote and rural regions have experienced food insecurity in the last twelve months.”

“The reality of these cuts is that people will go hungry.”

“With 3 million Australians categorised as having very low food security, the government should be doing all it can to support programs like Foodbank, not cutting its much-needed funding.”

“It’s coming up to Christmas and families will be going hungry. Where is the Prime Minister’s Christmas spirit?”

ACCC action against Captain Cook College for alleged systemic unconscionable conduct

The ACCC has instituted Federal Court proceedings against Productivity Partners Pty Ltd, trading as Captain Cook College, alleging systemic unconscionable conduct in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.

The ACCC alleges that from 7 September 2015, Captain Cook College removed consumer safeguards from its enrolment and withdrawal processes for online courses to improve its financial performance.

“We allege that Captain Cook College engaged in systemic unconscionable conduct designed to maximise profit at the expense of their students,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“We are very concerned by Captain Cook College’s decision to make process changes that we will submit removed consumer safeguards. We allege that this significantly reduced the College’s ability to detect misconduct by its sales agents and assess a consumer’s suitability or participation in the course they had been enrolled in.”

“We further allege that the removal of consumer safeguards increased the number of students that Captain Cook College enrolled and who remained enrolled, allowing the College to increase VET FEE-HELP payments from the Commonwealth,” Ms Court said.

Approximately 5,500 affected consumers whose enrolment was processed during the period from 7 September 2015 have VET FEE-HELP debt, totalling over $60 million. Around 98% of those 5,500 consumers failed to complete any part of the course they were enrolled in, and around 86% never even logged in to their online course.

In these proceedings, it is also alleged that Captain Cook College made false or misleading representations, engaged in unconscionable conduct and failed to provide unsolicited consumer agreement protections in its dealings with four individual consumers.

The ACCC has also alleged that Ian Cook (former Captain Cook College CEO), Site Group International Limited (Site, the parent company of Captain Cook College) and Blake Wills (former COO of Site) were knowingly concerned in Captain Cook College’s systemic unconscionable conduct.

“We will not hesitate to take appropriate action against businesses and executives who treat consumers unconscionably in breach of the Australian Consumer Law,” Ms Court said.

The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations, corrective notices, adverse publicity orders, finding of fact orders and orders requiring the implementation of a consumer law compliance program, as well as costs. The ACCC is also seeking orders disqualifying Ian Cook and Blake Wills from managing corporations.

Consumers with concerns about their VET provider can contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman atwww.ombudsman.gov.au/vslo(link is external) and complete the online complaint form.

Littleproud welcomes charges laid over needles in strawberries

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has welcomed news Queensland Police have charged an alleged offender over planting needles in strawberries.​

The 50-year-old woman will face court in Brisbane today.

“I congratulate Queensland Police for working hard on this issue,” Minister Littleproud said.

“I think many had assumed no-one would ever be charged over these serious offences.

“Everyone has the right to the presumption of innocence and their day in court, and that process has to be allowed to run its course.

“But I’m glad police kept at it long after the media attention died down.

“The needles-in-strawberries scandal has cost our farmers millions during tough times.

“Summer and Christmas are important times of year for strawberry growers and I hope news of an alleged offender being charged also brings growers some mental relief.”

25 years of the Republic of Singapore Armed Forces training at RAAF Base Pearce

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) hosted Singaporean Senior Minister of State (Defence) Heng Chee How at RAAF Base Pearce today to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Republic of Singapore Air Force training at the base.

Australia and Singapore are close and longstanding partners, with shared interests in regional security and stability.

Senior Australian Defence Force Officer, RAAF Base Pearce, Wing Commander Brett Mitchell said Defence was pleased to be able to support the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s pilot training.

“The people-to-people and military linkages developed through this arrangement are invaluable.

Every current Republic of Singapore Air Force pilot has undertaken training at RAAF Base Pearce where the Singapore Flying Training Institute is located, which is testament to the close and enduring nature of our bilateral relationship,” Wing Commander Mitchell said.