Former NSW minister Victor Dominello has a new university gig running tackling ethics and trust in digital life

- May 1, 2023 3 MIN READ
Prof Andrew Parfitt, Victor Dominello, Prof Attila Brungs.
UTS Vice-Chancellor Prof Andrew Parfitt, UNSW-UTS Trustworthy Digital Society Hub director Victor Dominello, and UNSW Vice-Chancellor Prof Attila Brungs. Photo: Maja Baska
Former NSW digital government minister Victor Dominello has a new job after leaving politics at the March state election, signing on as the director of the university-based UNSW-UTS Trustworthy Digital Society Hub.

The announcement comes on the same day Jihad Dib, the new Labor minister in charge of digital government marked Privacy Week, announcing the upcoming introduction of the NSW Digital ID and Digital Wallet, two projects Dominello pioneered and drove during his time in power. The Digital ID is currently undergoing beta testing. 

The TDS Hub, is a new collaboration between University of NSW Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney designed to lead research and insights in citizen-centred digital platforms. Building on his work as a minister who worked with other states, the federal government and private sector to ensure a national framework around the roll out of a digital ID, the hub was developed in close collaboration with Dominello, to support people, businesses and governments to develop a trustworthy digital society.

Victor Dominello began as director a fortnight ago on an initial three-year term.

The new director said that while consumers mostly accept the benefits of the digital economy, they remain sceptical about how and by whom their data is used.

“We founded the Trustworthy Digital Society Hub to help create a world where individuals and communities can fully benefit from the opportunities of the digital age without sacrificing their privacy, security or fundamental rights,” Dominello said.

“The Hub will be a centre of innovation, bringing together researchers, technologists and policymakers to develop new digital technologies and practices that prioritise privacy, security and ethical considerations. It will serve as a trusted resource providing education, training and tools to help people understand the risks and benefits of digital technologies, and to make informed decisions about how to use them safely and responsibly.”

During his 14 years in politics, the former digital government, customer service, small business, and fair trading minister often spoke about the importance of trust as he sought to build improved digital systems – having also been on the frontline when nearly 190,000 Service NSW customers were victims of a cyber hack in 2020 involving millions of stolen documents. He was one of the people forced to get a new driver’s licence. Amid the pandemic, his team led the implementation of QR check-ins and app-based vaccine certificates.

In a speech ahead of his departure from politics in March, he revealed that Dominello revealed he’d not carried a wallet for several years, relying entirely on his smartphone for ID.

Dominello’s central thesis is that personal information belongs in the hands of the person who owns it, not others.

“Trust is best built if information that’s accessed on digital platforms remains owned by the consumer, regulated for the benefit of the consumer and is only held by third parties to serve the needs of the consumer,” he said.

“I am delighted to be working with UNSW and UTS on this important initiative, which will draw upon their deep pool of research, skills, technology and systems so we can develop effective models to test, refine and innovate for the benefit of our community.”

UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs said Dominello has a proven track record in leading digital transformation.

“Victor was responsible for modernising the delivery of government services in NSW and has demonstrated in building NSW’s online customer services how technology can transform people’s lives for the better,” he said.

“UNSW looks forward to providing valuable guidance as part of this important collaboration, for individuals, government and industry and creating a true digital society.”

UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Parfitt said the Hub will leverage the university’s expertise in digital science, especially the responsible use of technology and ethics of artificial intelligence.

“UTS is excited to work alongside UNSW and Victor Dominello to help shape a society where people can benefit from the opportunities of a digital age in an equitable, inclusive and sustainable way,” he said.

“It’s clear the role of technology in our lives will continue to grow, and it’s vitally important that people, government and business take a human-centred approach to developing the tools and capabilities to navigate the rapidly evolving tech landscape.”

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