As Australians will soon have access to a COVID-19 vaccine, to prove someone has had the jab, the federal government will make a record of it available on a smartphone.
"They will have a record, they will have a digital and paper certificate. For some 89% of Australians that have a smartphone, they will be able to access that digital certificate in their smartphone, download it onto their phone as a permanent record," said Stuart Robert, the minister responsible for government services.
Speaking over the weekend, Robert touted the initiative would give the public confidence. He said once vaccination of the Australian population is complete, which is expected to be by the end of October, the Australian Immunisation Register would store proof of all vaccinations.
"That record will form the basis of the vaccination certificate that all Australians will be able to use, including visa holders," he said. "That certificate is available right now, people can access it from the Medicare Express Plus, from myGov, or indeed they can call or visit Services Australia and get a paper record."
A vaccination certificate is currently available through the Medicare and myGov apps. Robert said the government would continue to build out the certificate as country-wide vaccination occurs.
"But importantly, we'll use the Australian Immunisation Register, a register that has been around for many, many, many years, that is robust [and] solid. Millions of Australians have been using it and accessing it every year, and all Australians will be able to access it absolutely and utterly securely through the government platforms and now that we've put digital identity into my myGov, there's even greater assurances for Australians that do that," he added.
Asked whether the certificate would be accepted by other countries, Robert said it was highly likely that a vaccination certificate or quarantine would still be required for international visitors to Australia and that discussions with international counterparts would continue on a framework for vaccination certificates.
"There's a range of applications now that are being looked at including IBM, Clear, CommonPass, through the international travel authorities. We'll continue to work with them to get a framework," he said.
"But importantly, for Australians, they can have assurance that the certificate they will have will be robust, it will be anchored to them, so they will know it's their certificate, and it will be widely accepted."
The government has also this week issued a request for expressions of interest (REOI), seeking a vendor to provide software capabilities for the next phase of its myGov platform.
Specifically, the REOI is seeking a vendor to deliver three "core" customer experience capabilities. It follows an announcement from the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) in March that it was undertaking a "beta" redevelopment of myGov.
The myGov beta is a trial website enabling government to test new features and collect feedback.
The objective, the REOI states, is to enable an improved customer experience and enable government to respond to changing needs of society. It's hoping to make getting help from government simple, backed by systems and support services, be respectful of time and people's circumstances, and the process needs to be transparent.