The Australian government recognises that the data it holds is a strategic national resource that holds considerable value for growing the economy, improving service delivery and transforming policy outcomes for all Australians. Greater use and sharing of public data facilitates increased economic activity and improves productivity. Without improving data accessibility within government, the opportunity for enhanced productivity, increased competition, improved service delivery and research outcomes will be missed.
The Australian government holds a large range of data about the environment, individuals and businesses, all with different attributes and different levels of sensitivity. When this data is used and combined, it provides government with new insights into important and complex policy questions and allows for improved service delivery.
Existing data sharing arrangements across the public service are complex and hinder the use of data. Barriers to greater sharing of data within government include:
- a dense web of legislative requirements which lack consistency
- a culture of risk aversion, leading to overly cautious legislative interpretation and approval process complexity, and
- lack of a whole-of-government approach
New data sharing and release arrangements will benefit Australians by streamlining the way public data is shared and released within government and with trusted users. New arrangements will provide efficient, scalable and risk-based trusted data access to datasets that have substantial and community-wide benefits for research, innovation and policy. The new arrangements will increase the authorised sharing and release of data and improve data safeguards to ensure risks are managed consistently and appropriately.
This paper outlines key concepts and principles which may guide development of the new data sharing and release arrangements. While the paper includes scenarios involving more sensitive data in an effort to demonstrate how new arrangements could work, data about individuals and businesses is only one part of the data system. The concepts and principles in the paper cover all data held by the Australian government and the proposed data sharing and release arrangements will provide a consistent and scalable framework applicable to data of all attributes and sensitivities.