ACS applauds coalition's ICT policy

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has lauded the government's ICT policy, released this week by ICT Minister Helen Coonan.ACS president, Edward Mandla, said the coalition's policy builds on a range of initiatives the government has in place, and takes up some key issues the ACS has raised with the minister.

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has lauded the government's ICT policy, released this week by ICT Minister Helen Coonan.

ACS president, Edward Mandla, said the coalition's policy builds on a range of initiatives the government has in place, and takes up some key issues the ACS has raised with the minister.

The ACS has called for continued focus and funding on the production and development of commercially viable ICT enterprises.

"The federal coalition government has recognised the interconnection inherent in information and communications technology and has developed a number of new proposals to allow the ICT industry to maximise opportunities both globally and domestically," he said.

Mandla added that he welcomes the minister's undertaking to work with the ACS and the industry to "encourage enhanced professionalism in the sector, including the affordability and availability of professional indemnity insurance".

Mandla also praised the minister for raising the issue about the low number of women in ICT.

"It's pleasing that the Minister has asked where "are the women in ICT?" This is a question the ACS has asked for some time, and one of the key reasons we've been calling for schools to train our children in ICT literacy. The ACS has already begun to explore this issue with interested parties and is calling for a summit to allow a range of views to be aired and further work to be commissioned," he said.

The ACS also commended the government for raising the teleworking task force in their policy document. Mandla said the ACS has been working to develop a Work/Life policy in an attempt to "shed industry stigma of long hours and dark towers".

"This is one of the major reasons women don't return to our industry. The findings of the group, to be released in the coming weeks, will show that teleworking is important, but not the key driver in solving our industry's issues," he said.

Mandla said they were pleased with the initiatives in the areas of "angel investments" or finding funding for start-up ventures with satisfactory conditions.

The ACS is preparing to launch an industry policy task force that will look at angel investing and "focus on the importance of involving our grey haired leaders in developing companies".

Mandla is particularly pleased with onshoring as the offshoring counter measure that Coonan mentioned in the government's ICT policy.

"It's particularly encouraging that the Minister has picked up on onshoring as an important counter measure. This goes hand-in-hand with government purchasing. Our organisations are forced to export prematurely due to a lack of support from Australian government and corporate accounts. We need legislative change as much as we need cultural change in government purchasing and we are pleased that the Federal Government will address this," he said.

Mandla also expressed his support on the initiatives for improving "accessibility" to government ICT contracts in relation to the GITC contract framework especially for small to medium businesses "who don't feel able to bid for these contracts".

"Successive governments have long associated ICT production with factories. We believe the Minister's policy statement is the first time ICT production has referenced the provision of IP services -- which are our ICT future in this country. We applaud this, and suggest that IP services need to be a major focus of future R&D funding," he said.

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