Access without registration to privacy workshops till 14 August using temporary@guest- just click & go!

Rosie Williams -campaigner, collaborator, coder

After recently joining the grassroots civil rights Electronic Frontiers Australia as a member, I recently became part of their Policy Team.

I was impressed by the #Censusfail submission to this (Inquiry) Committee. It very clearly showed some good analysis that would have helped the ABS to run a better Census if it had done such research before developing the Census proposal. It also saved me from explaining the current thrust in government with the Government Data Linkage Project, and its likely links to the Census. Bill McLennan (Former Head of the ABS, Former Chairman United Nations Statistical Commission) in his Submission to the 2016 Inquiry.

I’ve worked with Rosie Williams on budget data transparency since November 2013. Rosie has developed her project into the best government data transparency initiative I know... continually updated and improved to make underlying data intelligible and to focus on key aspects for analysis. My interest has particularly been on the transparency of federal budget data.

Govspend is the best ongoing facility for reviewing and analysing spending data, especially by programme. Rosie’s efforts have added significantly to the transparency of federal budget data. She has also become an important member of the non-government community who are trying to enable better and more informed use government data.

We could hear from digital rights organisations like the Privacy Foundation, Digital Rights Watchand Electronic Frontiers Australia and from specialist researchers like Rosie Williams and Asher Wolf, who have led the debate online.

The value of a database which collects figures from a variety of sources and links them is huge, and would certainly have value as a business setting which is not available elsewhere. An example for me was the collecting and linking of figures relating to bulk billing and socioeconomic measures, which hadn't otherwise been done, but is crucial is determining health policy.It is not just the production of the database that has value, but the responsiveness to government and community questions, your expertise in statistics and their interpretation and the coding of this for a searchable website database - skills rarely found in one place.

In addition, your ability to draw on a wide network of expertise makes this an invaluable resource, and not sustainable, if it is to be done properly, on a volunteer setting. I have no doubt, though, that the value I and many others place on your work would make this a viable commercial enterprise. I wish you every luck with this endeavour, not just for you, but because it makes a real contribution to many others wanting to understand and improve the data available about communities in Australia, but more importantly, use this to improve the way those communities work.

Rosie's efforts (on budget transparency apps) are amazing. Pulling together otherwise isolated, incomplete, and inconsistent stores of government financial data into a manageable, understandable view. Single-handedly giving us the kind of transparency we should have been given in the first place.