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Rosie Williams -campaigner, collaborator, coder

I was asked to write a piece for the leading citizen journalism publication Independent Australia on the Cashless Debit Card that the government is looking to force onto all income support recipients of working age. The article is also avaialable (sans the embedded tweets) at my blog under the title 'Under His Eye: Income Management & the Surveillance State'

Bernard Keane wrote a series of articles for on the issues facing women in technology in which I was quoted.

What's driving women out of tech industries?

The lack of women in tech isn't just about a lack of supply -- the industry has characteristics that drive many women out.

'Rosie Williams, who started late in tech but who has now decided to leave the sector for teaching, told Crikey “whenever I consider going to hackathons I have to think about what it is likely to do to me emotionally if I am prevented from participating due to my gender. The irony is that the men involved in IT generally imagine themselves to be above sexism.'

In addition to publishing several articles on my blog, pinging Peter Martin with specific FOI information discovered during my research which led to the first main stream media articles on privacy and the census, I researched and wrote an extensive submission to the Inquiry into the 2016 census which was referenced twice in the Final Report of the Inquiry.

I played a significant role instigating the #CensusFail campaign including providing information to journalists, campaigning to have ABC 7.30 Report run a story for which I provided background, dealing with hundreds of tweets a day direct to my twitter handle on the topic as well as dealing with the #CensusFail hashtag more generally.

My decision to play a leading role instigating a campaign against the 2016 census was based on the investigative research that I did around the issue. This is detailed in The CensusFail Submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry.

The CensusFail Submission is a significant piece of research spanning forty years which describes the dialectial relationship between the Australian census and Commonwealth privacy legislation.

The submission places the 2015 announcement to de-anonymise the census in an historical context, tracing the history of repeated attempts to create a unique number/key for all Australians including the 1980's Australia Card debate which lead to the largest nation-wide protests outside the conscription issue Australia has seen.

The submission draws on statements made by former Heads of the ABS which take issue with the legislative authority of the ABS to change the uses of census data without consent of Parliament and explains the recent changes in the governance framework of cross portfolio data integration projects which is the purpose behind the decision to de-anonymise the census.

The submission also includes a significant survey of over 500 people of the issues they had accessing or completing the census including the concerns they had regarding the change in use of census data and the manner in which the government implemented these changes without public awareness or independent verification of the decision via an independent Privacy Impact Assessment.

My submission was praised by former Head of the ABS, Bill McLennan and referenced by submissions from the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law & prominent privacy experts.

I was interviewed by Luke Bacon from the Open Australia Foundation in early 2015. The interview described the open data projects I was working on at the time (morphed now into GovSpend) and the challenges of trying to make them provide a living.

In late 2015 the Australian government belatedly signed onto a multilateral agreement called the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan which requires government to 'co-create' a National Action Plan with civil society committing government to specific goals in transparency, accountability and democratic participation which I wrote about at the  AOGPN blog. Other writing on open data is at the Open Knowledge Foundation & EGovAu blogs and received mention in The Conversation.

I was involved with high level policy discussions on topics of open data, with a particular interest in the use of open data for financial and poltical transparency.

I participated in the drafting workshop for Australia's first National Action Plan in Canberra held just prior to the 2016 budget and election.

My participation stemmed from my experience building open data projects for financial and political transparency, my involvement in opening the federal budget dataset and my public engagement via twitter and media with groups lobbying for better data sharing for social purposes such as housing, domestic violence, funding transparency etc.

I also furnished submissions on the topic to the Productivity Commission's Data Access & Use Inquiry.

Read article

Between 2012 and 2016 I created several open data projects focused on financial and political transparency using open government datasets including the federal budget data, Commonwealth grants, tenders & political donations, parliamentary entitlemens, charities data, SEIFA, medicare and census population demographics.

The first of these (including only federal budget data) was lauded in the Fairfax media on budget day (front page digital version) 2013 and the last iteration which included cross matching political donations with tenders and grants using a hand-coded implementation of Pearson's r algorithm was written about in my IdeasHoist Interview.

During this time I was also interviewed live on radio on budget day 2013 on a local Canberra drive time leading into 6pm news and earlier in the day by a Brisbane radio station and most recently by Heidi Pett for ABC PM Radio with Tim Palmer.

I maintain a prototype GovSpend of data from the 2015-16 financial year for the purpose of demonstrating both the potential of open data in financial transparency and to illustrate issues of data quality, timeliness & exhastiveness.

While working with open data I was often published on the topic in citizen media including Power to Persuade and the Croakey Health Blog (a spin off from

I worked with the federal government in the lead up to their first release of open budget data in 2014 including sharing the schema from the dataset I had created for use in my open data projects.

As a result of this collaboration between civil society and government I was asked to contribute a blog post to the International Budget Partnership.

After gaining my degree in sociology from UNE, I began being published on social issues in citizen journalism 10-15 years ago. I have written for Online Opinion, New Matilda, NoFibs, and Independent Australia.

Before learning database programming with PHP & MySQL in my early 40's, I single-handedly raised a special needs child who I educated outside the schooling system with no government funding or other support.

Despite his physical coordination issues, acute asthma (that saw him hospitalised on several occasions) and severe ADHD, my son began studying programming and maths at university aged just 12, scoring HD in all his programming units, going on campus at UNSW at 15 and beginning his full time programmiing career just before he turned 16.

During my time raising him, my son and I lobbied for better educational options and inclusion for gifted and special needs children and were interviewed on a couple of occasions, including for a feature article in Sun Herald which saw my son placed on the cover of the weekend magazine.

I was also published on my approach to education in all the newsletters & journal of the various Australian state associations for gifted and talented children.

I also ran an online community group for families of highly-profoundly gifted children and volunteered on the advice line for NSW AGTC.