Saturday morning marked the official launch of the #openaus hashtag, a place for ongoing discussion of financial and political transparency as it relates to open data.
The chat was an opportunity to share a proposed change to the Corporations Act aimed at decreasing transparency for Australian organisations.
— Rosie Williams (@Info_Aus) August 15, 2015
As reported by the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Governance Institute of Australia is seeking to have important details of office holders removed from the ASIC database. People are working at a global level to improve accountability and transparency and details such as those the GIA wish to be taken off the public record are just the kind of information sought for the purposes of accountability an issue raised in the chat:
@Info_Aus 2.Greater corporate transparency. Confusing corporate structures = anonymity and cost to access ASIC Register hinders transparency
— FOI Central (@FOIcentric) August 15, 2015
Contrary to my expectation that the discussion would be dominated by interest in the recent expenses scandal, the issues brought up during the chat related primarily to health and housing or homelessness. There is opportunity to use the #openaus hashtag to work on specific topics. Outcomes of these discussions would include raised awareness among the community of the issues and improved functionality in OpenAus and similar projects to better meet the existing gaps in information. During the August 15 chat, health and housing dominated:
Concern about the influence of corporations on public health was a popular theme:
Data quality issues in health also got a mention:
A basic pre-requisite of providing services is that policy-makers and service providers have data on the people whose needs they are serving. With vulnerable populations such as people with disability and homeless people there are likely gaps in the statistics used as a basis for policy decisions.
@Info_Aus That would be great and also to actually see how many they house or help our homeless not just use to justify budget.
— Older Women Homeless (@Homeforwoman) August 14, 2015
The #openaus hashtag is a way to raise and sustain awareness on information transparency issues and work for various interest communities to work together over time to fill the current gaps in information. I thank all participants for their engagement and look forward to working together in the future.