Royal Commission into Family Violence findings flag potential government ICT projects

The recently published report of the Royal Commission into Family Violence includes 227 recommendations, many of which may lead to government ICT projects that provide opportunities for Victoria’s technology sector.

If you live in Victoria, you would be all too aware of the impact of family violence in our community. From the media reports of horrendous crimes against women and children, from the tireless work of campaigners such as Rosie Batty, and now from the report of Australia’s first Royal Commission Into Family Violence. If you’re interested in government ICT projects and haven’t looked through the report, which was tabled in Parliament on 30 March 2016, then YOU MUST.

In forensic detail, the report lays bare the failings of the current regime and recommends a massive overhaul of the way the police, social services and the courts work, and the way they work together, in order to save the lives of those affected by domestic violence. In response, the Victorian Premier has promised to implement all 227 recommendations.

Central to the Commission’s findings is the recognition of the importance of technology to underpin the best way for critical information to be shared within and between the agencies involved.

A whole chapter is devoted to the issue of information sharing (the need, the current practices and capability, and recommendations to improve). As the Victorian Commissioner for Privacy and Data has stated: “Having the ability to share the right information with the right people at the right time for the right purpose will significantly support better outcomes by protecting those at risk.”

The Commission recommends specific measures for improving outdated IT systems to enhance agencies’ abilities to share the required information. Many of these will lead to government ICT projects, including:

  • Laws to be changed to allow information sharing
  • Establishment of a centralised service to share information about perpetrators with police, courts, family violence services and the safety hubs
  • Examine options for the development of a single case management data system to enable agencies to view and share risk information in real time
  • More use of investigative and mobile technology by the police, and
  • A project should be started immediately to examine opportunities for purchasing off-the-shelf applications to integrate databases, without replacing legacy systems.

These and other recommendations present the ICT sector with the opportunity to propose solutions that deliver positive social outcomes and demonstrate the power of technology.

If you were in Canberra in the mid/late 2000’s, you would remember how similar systemic failures in information sharing were identified in the Palmer and Comrie reports following the unlawful detention of Cornelia Rau. These reports led to a truly transformational change in the IT systems and capabilities of the then Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). This was the massive Systems for People project.

While the delivery of this project had its challenges, it successfully led to a new people-centric system that consolidated approximately 120 million records across 20 major and 70 minor computer systems to ensure information silos were broken down and the right information was available to the right person at the right time. This project was managed by DIAC with the support of many technology companies working together.

Such a transformational change is now needed in Victoria.

Numerous reports in recent years have highlighted the challenge of implementing major Victorian Government ICT projects. Delivering on the Royal Commission’s information sharing recommendations will be a heroic challenge for the government, but essential if family violence is to be tackled successfully in this state.

It will require strong leadership and support by senior executives in the Victorian Government, and strong support from industry. The ICT sector must collaborate with government, and demonstrate thought leadership and a willingness to co-innovate and co-design with government to find new and effective ways to implement the capability required.

So, to the tech companies wanting to be involved in potential government ICT projects:

  • Read Chapter 7 of the Royal Commission’s Summary and Recommendations Report
  • Engage with senior executives in government to understand priorities, timing, constraints and estimated budgets (look out for allocations in the forthcoming State Budget), and
  • Explore solution and partnering options.

Over to you…

David Watt is a Senior Consultant at Mia. His successful track record working with government and leading teams selling into the public sector underpins his role building holistic government sales and marketing strategies for our clients. A nationally accredited mediator, David also heads up Mia’s Dispute Resolution and Negotiation services.

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