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Reforms to enable better sharing and use of government data

Edition: 1

In September this year, the Office of the National Data Commissioner (ONDC) released an exposure draft of the Data Availability and Transparency Bill that will transform how the Australian Government shares data.

The Bill can help data professionals across the Australian Public Service request and access data, allowing them to use their skills to solve problems.

Once enacted, this Bill will establish a modern and streamlined data sharing scheme that will give users who are interested in requesting Australian Government data a consistent, governed pathway to make those requests.

To access data through the scheme, users will need to be accredited by the National Data Commissioner and their intended use of the data must meet one of three purposes:

  • improving Australian Government service delivery
  • informing Australian Government policy and programs, and
  • research and development.

The development of this scheme has been informed by the 2017 Productivity Commission’s report on Data Availability and Use which pressed the need to improve how the Australian Government shares, uses, and realises the value of its data. 


Australian Government agencies will not be compelled to share data through this new scheme – participation is optional – but doing so affords the benefit of:

  • access to consistent guidelines, processes and templates for you to share and use data between Australian Government entities
  • access to a new digital platform to action data sharing requests and share data
  • the legal authority to share the data that you’re responsible for which will override the existing web of inconsistent laws, and
  • a safety net in the form of legislative safeguards and regulatory oversight from the National Data Commissioner.

While it’s optional for you to share data through the scheme, you will need to consider all data sharing requests that are submitted through the scheme.

How to prepare

The data sharing scheme will only come into effect once the Data Availability and Transparency Bill is legislated.

Until then, here are a few ways you can get a head start and prepare:

  • review your current data governance practices to see if they align with the National Data Commissioner’s Data Sharing Principles and the Foundational Four
  • familiarise yourself with the Data Sharing Agreement template and see if there are any opportunities to start applying it in your department or agency, and
  • information [at] datacommissioner.gov.au (email the Office of the National Data Commissioner) to speak to the team and get your questions answered about the new scheme.