10 million Australians now registered to myGov

More than 10 million people have now registered with myGov, the Australian government's online service portal.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Australian government's online service portal myGov has reached an eight-figure milestone, with over 10 million users signed up to the system.

According to the government, 160,000 people on average use myGov each day, with Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge boasting the portal has now surpassed the number of digital service users that the likes of Commonwealth Bank has.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) joined the myGov portal in 2014, allowing the completion of tax returns using a myGov account as authentication.

During the tax time peak this July, over 660,000 people logged in on a single day; the government also said there were 14.2 million logins in July 2016, compared to 7.5 million in July 2015.

The ATO was the latest addition to the government portal, joining Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support, the Department of Veterans' Affairs, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and e-Health.

"myGov is about making it easier and simpler for people to interact with government, to update their information, do their tax or apply for benefits," Tudge said in a statement.

"There have been early frustrations with the myGov service but we have made considerable improvements recently and there are many more planned."

It hasn't been a smooth sailing for myGov, with the launch of the myTax portal suffering a stumble. At the time, users reported difficulties in linking their myGov login details with their ATO details in the first few days of the 2014-15 financial year.

Tudge confirmed this week however that the government had made improvements to myGov in recent months to address frustrations users had expressed via public feedback, which included giving users the option to log in with their username or email address and reducing the account lock-out time for incorrect credential entering from 12 hours to two.

With AU$50 million promised during the recent election campaign, Tudge said further upgrades will be made to myGov, such as making the portal accessible on mobile, fixing issues with cross-agency transactions, and improving staff support for users.

The myGov responsibility was handed over to the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) early last year, with the office tasked with unifying government agencies and services online.

Communications Minister cum Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull initially oversaw the transition which also included working with state and territory governments to identify opportunities for collaboration, including ways to make better use of myGov.

"Interacting with government should be as easy as internet banking or ordering a taxi through an app," Turnbull said at the time.

In July last year, the New South Wales government decided it would be designing its own digital transaction portal through Service NSW while discussions were held with the federal government about joining the myGov portal.

The NDIS began its national rollout on July 1, 2016. Users wanting to access the scheme's MyPlace portal require a myGov account.

Despite claiming to have processed over AU$65 million worth of payment requests since the start of July, the government announced an independent review into the MyPlace portal to ensure it was "meeting the agreed expectations" of NDIS participants and providers.

The review was called following disruptions the IT system had faced over recent weeks, which included the inability to upload provider data to the portal, which resulted in delays to payments being issued by the agency, and multiple concerns being expressed by providers and participants.

The Labor Party said on Thursday that people with disabilities and their families had been forced to cancel appointments as a result of an unreliable system.

My Health Record, the Australian government's e-health record system, reached its own milestone this month, claiming to have signed up over 4 million users to the automatic opt-in service.

Originally switched on in 2012, the system has since been rebranded from the "personally controlled e-health record system" (PCEHR) to My Health Record.

Since its inception, the My Health Record has not been praised by all, with Dr Bernard Robertson-Dunn, who chairs the health committee of the Australian Privacy Foundation, calling the system a waste of money.

"It's cost AU$2 billion so far, it's costing over AU$400 million every year, but the government has never told us how it has improved health care or reduced health costs. All it is doing is putting patient data at risk," Robertson-Dunn said.

"They've built a glorified document management system. It's not really a health records system ... The data is contained mostly in PDFs, which are documents. It's difficult to search them."

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