Helen Owens

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Keynote Presentation:
Building a World Class Public Data Infrastructure

Helen Owens, Principal Advisor, Public Data Policy, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


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5 Things You Will Learn

  1. How the Commonwealth Government has prioritised the public data and digital government agendas
  2. The impact of the Public Data Management Review across whole of government.
  3. What the current Commonwealth Government public data policies and initiatives are.
  4. How spatial data policy is a fundamental aspect of the broader public data and digital policy agendas
  5. How both the public and private sector can prosper with the use and re-use of public data.

Target Audience

Government and policy makers, planners, developers, geospatial professionals, industry, entrepreneurs, innovators, start-ups, researchers and academics.

Presentation Overview

With the change in Federal leadership in September 2015, the Australian Government has reprioritised the public data and digital government policy agendas.

This has included transferring responsibility for:

  • ‘national policy issues relating to the digital economy’ from the former Department of Communications to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science;
  • ‘whole of government service delivery policy’ from the former Department of Communications to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; and
  • ‘public data policy and related matters’ from the Department of Finance and the former Department of Communications to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The transfer of these policy areas into the Prime Minister’s Department signals the importance that the current Government places on public data and digital transformation. Ensuring Commonwealth entities have the capability to better use and reuse the data they collect or generate for policy development and public administration is critical. Building a world class pubic data infrastructure to deliver the policy objectives of the Government is the new focus of the Public Data Policy Branch.

This presentation will cover the key Commonwealth Government initiatives and announcements including:

  • the launch of the DataStart private-public partnership pilot program in November 2015;
  • the Public Sector Data Management Review which focussed on Australian Public Service practices and identified the current status and strategies for improving the use of and access to non-sensitive data;
  • the release of the Australian Government’s Public Data Policy Statement in December 2015 which formalises the Government’s commitment to open data and data-driven innovation;
  • the progress to deliver on ANZLIC’s Foundation Spatial Data Framework including the announcement of December 2015 to make the Geocoded National Address file (G-NAF) and Administrative Boundaries datasets openly available via data.gov.au from February 2016; and
  • the announcement to establish Data61 which will deliver world-leading data science applied research capability.


Helen joined the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet as the Principal Advisor for Public Data Policy on 22 October 2015. Prior to this appointment she was the Assistant Secretary, Data Policy in the Department of Communications and previously the General Manager of the Office of Spatial Policy in the Department of Industry. Helen is currently responsible for providing whole of government policy advice on the Australian Government’s public data strategy, data infrastructure, data in the economy, and digital government.