Former NSW government minister Victor Dominello has been appointed Director of a new initiative from UNSW Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney ­– the Trustworthy Digital Society Hub, designed to lead research and insights in citizen-centred digital platforms.

UNSW and UTS developed the new Hub in close collaboration with Mr Dominello, aimed at supporting individuals, businesses and governments seeking to build a trustworthy digital society.

Mr Dominello says society has reached a point where we increasingly expect to be able to engage with services online 24/7 with ease, through digital platforms. He also says that while consumers have by and large accepted 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,” Mr Dominello says.

“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 the NSW Parliament, including serving as Minister for Digital and Minister for Customer Service, Mr Dominello oversaw a large part of the NSW government’s digital transformation. He led a substantial evolution of Service NSW and its app, which saw the delivery of digital solutions such as QR check-ins and vaccine certificates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trust is critical for successful digital services

Mr Dominello says consumer trust must be built into digital systems, and that is the premise for the new Hub.

“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.

“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 and President Professor Attila Brungs says he’s excited Mr Dominello is joining as Director of the new Hub, with his proven track record in leading digital transformation in Australia.

“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,” Prof. Brungs says.

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

Read more: Australia needs a robust cybersecurity overhaul 

UTS Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Andrew Parfitt says the Hub will leverage UTS’s well established research capability and expertise in digital science, particularly in the areas of responsible use of technology and the 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.

“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.”

Mr Dominello’s appointment began on 19 April for an initial three-year term.