After months of disruption and unease, we seem to be entering a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, what exactly that phase is depends on who you ask, and where you are in the world… or indeed, within Australia. This uncertainty is perhaps as damaging to the economy as the actual lockdown. I don’t think anyone can accurately state that they know what will happen next. Questions such as Will there be another outbreak in NSW?, When will they develop a vaccine?, Is it actually safe to send my kids with medical condition (x) to school? and What’s up with geopolitics? really won’t be answerable for some time yet.
It’s been a very busy year for the IT industry in Australia, with a number of significant developments during the past 12 months.
As you are no doubt aware, there was a horrific shooting in Christchurch on 15 March, with 50 dead as a result. Like the New Zealand Prime Minister, we won’t be naming the alleged shooter — but we will absolutely talk about some of the ‘root causes’ being blamed for the atrocity. Politicians, ‘social commentators’ and the mainstream media have started to blame technology and gaming for the radicalisation of the alleged shooter. Yet it has repeatedly been proven in numerous studies that computer gaming (even ‘violent’ games where shooting is the main purpose, or games that allow and even promote violence to either non-player characters or other players) does not cause people to be violent in real life.
2018 has been a big year, and quite a mixed bag. We got a new national Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, which was a step forward in ensuring that if an organisation collected and then lost control of your information, they had to tell you about it. The 457 visa scheme was replaced with a ‘Temporary Skills Shortage’ visa — in theory a move in the right direction, but ultimately one that was made with little industry consultation. The jury is still out on whether this will ultimately be a positive for the nation.
Thursday 15 November was meant to be the last day that Australians had to opt out of My Health Record, a national online database of patient health information with serious flaws. (Check our previous article for what was wrong with it.) The flaws within My Health Record were so bad that last week it emerged that the Privacy Commissioner for the Australian Digital Health Agency (which is responsible for My Health Record) quit last month, apparently leaving the organisation out of frustration that privacy and security concerns she had raised were being ignored by senior management.
One of the biggest IT issues ongoing at present is the Australian Government’s My Health Record project. It was designed as an opt-in service, where you would have to explicitly provide a healthcare provider with authority to create a record on your behalf. The primary benefit of the service was that a ‘single source of truth’ copy of your medical records (or a summary of them) would be available to any health provider nationally. So if you were away from home within Australia and required treatment, your records would be available to medical professionals, who would be able to learn your medical history, allergies etc, with the idea being that you would receive better and more appropriate medical care as a result. Unfortunately, the benefits of the service were not well sold to the public, and the percentage of people …