Australia's Data Future Symposium

Australia's Data Future Symposium

Australia’s publicly funded data positioning us as a leader

In Australia’s current economy, skills, knowledge and new ideas are our country’s most valuable asset. Keeping ahead of economic change requires a new approach to data and research that brings together strong policies with essential infrastructure and cultural change.

To celebrate its ten year anniversary, the Population Health Research Network (PHRN) has brought together six speakers to address the important issues surrounding the future of Australia’s publicly funded data. The themes for the afternoon are impact, trust and innovation in the use of Australia’s publicly funded data.

In the first session, Nicholas Gruen, Lateral Economics Chief Executive Officer, and Ellen Broad, independent consultant in data standards, infrastructure, policy and governance will tackle the topic of impact and what we should use Australia’s publicly funded date for.  In our next session Carolyn Adams, Senior Lecturer at Macquarie Law School, together with Professor Braunack-Mayer, bioethicist and public health researcher will delve into issues of trust and who we trust to use our data.

Wrapping up the afternoon, the New South Wales Chief Scientist, Hugh Durrant-Whyte and Terry Sweeney, Managing Director, IBM Watson Health will discuss the topic of innovation and how we should use Australia’s publicly funded data.  Hosted by Robyn Williams, AM, legendary science presenter, journalist and author, this afternoon will have you informed and stimulated in discussion on Australia's Data Future





Nicholas Gruen, CEO
Lateral Economics

Lateral Economics’ CEO  Nicholas Gruen is a widely published policy economist, entrepreneur and commentator. He has advised Cabinet Ministers, sat on Australia’s Productivity Commission and founded Lateral Economics and Peach Financial.

He is Visiting Professor at Kings College London and Adjunct Professor at UTS. He chairs the Open Knowledge Foundation (Australian Chapter) and is Patron of the Australian Digital Alliance, which brings together Australia’s libraries, universities, and major providers of digital infrastructure such as Google and Yahoo. He is a member of the Council of the National Library of Australia.

He was Chair of The Australian Centre for Social Innovation until 2016 and Chair of the Australian Government’s principal innovation advisory body, Innovation Australia, until 2014.

He was second shareholder and Chairman of successful San Francisco based startup, data analytics crowdsourcing platform Kaggle, subsequently acquired by Google in March 2017. He is an angel investor in various other Australian and international startups including Breezedocs,,  HealthKit and Lendable.

He was a member of a review of pharmaceutical patent extensions in 2013.  In 2009, he chaired Australia’s internationally acclaimed Government 2.0 Taskforce. In 2008, he was a member of a major review into Australia’s Innovation System.

He has a BA (Hons – First Class) in History (1981) and a PhD in Public Policy from the ANU (1998), and an LLB (Hons) from the University of Melbourne (1982).

Ellen Broad, Senior Fellow, 3A Institute,  Australian National University

Ellen returned to Australia from the UK in late 2016, where she was Head of Policy for the Open Data Institute (ODI), an international non-profit founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt. While in the UK Ellen was also ministerial adviser on data to senior UK cabinet minister Elisabeth Truss. She has held roles as Manager of Digital Policy and Projects for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (Netherlands) and Executive Officer for the Australian Digital Alliance. She is an independent consultant on data sharing, open data and AI ethics for organisations including Data61, Knowledge Unlatched, Queensland government and the Open Data Institute Australian Network. She is the author of Made by Humans: the AI Condition (Melbourne University Publishing, 2018).


Carolyn Adams, Senior Lecturer, Macquarie Law School

Carolyn is a Senior Lecturer at Macquarie Law School where she teaches and researches in the area of public law, with a focus on human rights and open government. Carolyn regularly provides expert advice on privacy and the handling of personal information to government and non-government organisations. She is currently engaged in a major project examining the ethics, law and policy of sharing personal information in the hands of government for research.

As well as a significant track record in interdisciplinary legal research, Carolyn brings to her teaching and research a practical perspective, drawing on two decades of providing high level legal and policy advice to state and federal governments, including NSW Cabinet Office and the federal Attorney-General's Department. Immediately prior to joining Macquarie University, she worked with the Australian Law Reform Commission on the following inquiries: Essentially Yours: The Protection of Genetic Information in Australia (ALRC Report 96) 2003; Same Crime, Same Time: Sentencing of Federal Offenders (ALRC Report 103) 2006; For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice (ALRC Report 108) 2008; and Secrecy Laws and Open Government in Australia (ALRC Report 112) 2009.

Professor Annette Braunack-Mayer
Head, School of Health and Society
Professor of Health Ethics - School of Health and Society - Faculty of Social Sciences
University of Wollongong Australia

Professor Braunack-Mayer is a bioethicist and public health researcher.  Her research combines ethical analysis with a wide range of qualitative methods for engaging with citizens, patients, consumers and stakeholders. She has particular expertise in the use of deliberative methods of engagement with communities, but her research skill set extends across qualitative research and includes the incorporation of insights from quantitative research. She has led community engagement activities with citizens, patients and stakeholders across 10 funded projects, combining methods including citizens’ juries, in-depth interviews, focus groups, participant and non-participant observation, document and media analysis.  Her current research spans vaccination policy and programs, the appropriate use of big data, obesity prevention, and chronic disease prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer

Hugh Durrant-Whyte is the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer. From 2016-18, he was Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Ministry of Defence. From 2014-16 and from 2002-2010, he was a Professor and ARC Federation Fellow at the University of Sydney. From 2010-2014, he was CEO of National ICT Australia (NICTA), and from 1995-2010 Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems and of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR). Hugh is a world-leading authority on machine learning and robotics, and its application in areas including cargo handling, mining and defence. He has published over 300 research papers, graduated over 70 PhD students, and has won numerous awards and prizes for his work, including being named 2010 NSW Scientist of the Year. In his career he has worked with many major companies, has co-founded three successful start-up companies, and has won many awards including being named 2008 Engineers Australia NSW Engineer of the Year. He is particularly well known for his work with Patrick in delivering the automated container terminals in Brisbane and Port Botany, and for his work with Rio Tinto in pioneering the delivering the automated “Mine of the Future”. He is an honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia (HonFIEAus), a Fellow of the IEEE (FIEEE), Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (FTSE), Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA), and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London (FRS).

Dr Terry Sweeney
Managing Director
IBM Watson Health

A Senior Business and Technology Executive based in Australia, Terry is the IBM Watson MD. An adept commercial leader, Terry leads a multi-million dollar business at the intersection of healthcare, AI and big data. With a strong focus on commercial and go-to-market leadership, he is ultimately responsible for achieving significant business growth in new and emerging markets, and identifying and incubating high-value global commercial partnerships in the field of healthcare technology. This is achieved through Terry's 'hands-on' approach, personally creating and driving innovative strategy to achieve tangible results, in addition to forming and leading a high performing team across an extremely diverse region.

An industry expert, Terry has over 20 years experience in Health & Human Services technology and business transformation, holding a number of senior strategic positions in both public and private sectors.

Terry has also built two startups from the ground up, both acquired by large multinationals. This gives Terry the ability to scale business at speed

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Data linkage has a significant role in reduction of cervical cancer in Australia. The HPV vaccine was introduced in 2007, success of the vaccine was monitored by linking vaccine registers to cervical smear registers in Queensland & Victoria.

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BOOK NOW! Australia's Data Future Symposium, 21 November 2019, Sydney. Read the program.