For the last 20 years I have watched the Australian Accounting industry go from strength to strength whereby the two major accounting associations – the CPA and Chartered Accountants – now have a combined membership of almost 200,000 members. All these accountants also vote and it is not surprising that the Australian Government always gets these accounting industry associations involved in new financial regulations and even in developing components of the budget. Meanwhile, the high level of membership has also given the accounting associations funds to prosper, develop valuable member services and to establish their brands in Asia. CPA now has over 35,000 members in Asia which has created burgeoning career opportunities in the region for Australian accountants.

Contrast this to membership in Australian IT associations. According to the Deloitte Access Economics Digital Pulse report from 2015, there are over 628,000 IT professionals in Australia but less than 30,000 – or fewer than five per cent – are members of industry associations.
In contrast, ABS stats show there are 193,000 accountants in the country and we know from membership numbers that just about all of them are affiliated to either the CPA or Chartered Accountants organisations - sometimes both.

We are three times the size of the accountancy profession but with a fraction of the political clout or recognition from government, industry and society. The IT profession needs similar influence on technology policy and outcomes. You must ask yourself, would the NBN be such a fiasco if the government had consulted with and listened to IT professionals during the formulation (and reformulation) of policy? Similarly, what about metadata retention? There was not adequate consultation with appropriate IT Professionals during the formulation phase of policy there either and the outcomes could have been so much better if they engaged with IT professionals sooner.
The sub-standard broadband network we are getting is a direct outcome of bad decisions that have been made for political reasons and without adequate levels of technical oversight.
Arguably the most important national infrastructure project of our generation has been very successfully used as a political football with the overall outcome for the Australian community treated as a by-product, rather than the main goal and focus. This is going to limit the potential of the local IT industry to compete on a global scale for decades. Therefore, the career opportunities for Australian IT professionals going forward are also severely hampered. That is not to mention the impact on business, health and education etc. Society is being held back by this missed opportunity. This lack of collaboration with people who have the greatest insight has to change and we are confident that ITPA offers value to members and with sufficient numbers we can have more say on future issues.”
What we need is a lot more members! Please spread the word amongst everyone in the IT industry that for the sake of their own careers, it is important that they are a member of an IT Association. Even if they are not willing to put their hand in their pockets to become a member, urge them to at least become Associate (free) Members.
Apologies for the rant - I promise to be more circumspect in the future.

Robert Hudson
President, ITPA

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