THE PRESIDENT - Working with Government

One of the roles of the ACS as the professional society for the IT industry is to represent the views of the profession at all levels of business, government and the wider community.

In keeping with this aim, the Society is active in lobbying government decision-makers on issues relating to IT, seeking to help politicians and their staff to understand the applications and implications of emerging technologies in order to assist them in developing appropriate policies.

In recent years, ACS initiatives in this direction have included submissions and advice relating to issues ranging from Internet censorship and privacy legislation to e-commerce legislation and funding for IT education, to name just a few.

As part of an on-going program to raise awareness of the ACS and its activities within the Federal arena, the Society recently staged a cocktail function at Parliament House in Canberra, inviting politicians and staffers of all political persuasions.

The event, on 9th March, was timed to coincide with a two-day meeting in Canberra by the ACS National Council. It was well attended by ministers, decision-makers and executive staff representing a range of departments and portfolios, including Senator Richard Alston, Senator Marise Payne, Kate Lundy, Senator John Herron, Wilson Tuckey, Ross Cameron, Senator Alan Eggleston and ACT Chief Minister, Kate Carnell, amongst others.

The function provided the opportunity for the ACS to present our credentials and expertise as to where we might assist decision-makers up to speed on relevant issues.

We recognised the steps being taken by many politicians to become more IT literate and encouraged all political representatives to stay abreast of the latest developments and fully understand the implications of emerging technologies about which they might be asked to make decisions.

The cocktails were sponsored by Senator Marise Payne, and proved to be extremely valuable in terms of strengthening existing contacts in Federal Parliament, with various ministers and senior advisers expressing their willingness for greater involvement by ACS representatives in the process of policy development.

The valuable role that the ACS can play as the professional society for the IT industry is being more recognised and appreciated in government circles.

The Canberra event was part of an on-going campaign to work more closely with government, not only at the federal level, but also in the various States and Territories.

The ACS has recently held extremely positive meetings with ministers in New South Wales and Queensland, and in coming weeks will meet with government representatives in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

Once again, the aim of these discussions is to increase their understanding of who the ACS is and our role within the IT industry, reinforcing our commitment to assist policy-makers with unbiased industry advice and expertise.

Another encouraging outcome of these and other discussions has been the identification of various opportunities for government departments to introduce the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) as a standard for measuring computer literacy and competence.

A number of departments at both Federal and State level have requested more information about the ICDL and are considering implementing this internationally recognised qualification.

The Society's newly acquired status as a member of the Australian Council of Professions has served to reinforce our position with government representatives and we've seen increasing interest in our Professional Recognition Program.

This scheme encourages employers to express a preference for ACS Members when employing IT professionals and/or fund ACS membership subscription for eligible IT&T employees as a standard employment benefit.

We encourage all ACS members who work in the government, private and academic arenas to look for opportunities to promote the benefits of membership to other IT professionals, as well as offering the Society's assistance in matters of policy-development pertaining to IT.

As always, I value your feedback on the these and other initiatives and invite you to contact me by phone on (02) 9223 9499, or via e-mail at jridge@acslink.net.au

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