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ANZSOG’s digital focus: Martin Stewart-Weeks appointed Practice Fellow for Digital Government Strategy and Leadership, new credential being developed

7 September 2023

News and media


Image of ANZSOG facilitator Martin Stewart Weeks

The Australia and New Zealand of School of Government (ANZSOG) is boosting its presence in the data and digital space with the appointment of Martin Stewart-Weeks as Practice Fellow for Digital Government Strategy and Leadership, and work is underway to develop a new digital credential for the public sector.

Mr Stewart-Weeks is a strategic thinker, organisational consultant, policy analyst, facilitator and writer. Martin’s work draws on over 35 years’ experience spanning government, the “for purpose” or social sector and the corporate sector. He’s the co-author of two books on institutional change for the digital age and digital transformation in government and the public sector in Australia.

Mr Stewart-Weeks said he was excited about working with ANZSOG to build its presence in data, digital and AI.

“I think ANZSOG has an enormous opportunity to reinforce its role developing public sector leaders for the digital age,” he said.

“My sense is that any senior public sector leader’s core strength now has to embrace an understanding of the role and potential of digital systems, data, and AI in policy-making, regulatory work, and great public services.”

Mr Stewart-Weeks will be leading ANZSOG’s work on creating the Public Leadership in the Digital Age credential, aimed at agency head and deputy head level, to build knowledge and confidence around modern and ethical digital government, digital acumen and citizen-centric and place-based design.

The digital credential will provide current and aspiring senior leaders in government and the public sector with a basic grounding in modern public leadership at a time of transition and transformation driven by the combined impact of digital systems, data and AI.

The first module will focus on the impact of AI on government, with a pilot planned for November this year, and the full course to be rolled out in 2024. The program will be designed in consultation with university partners and governments.

Others involved with the credential include: the Human Technology Institute at the University of Technology, Sydney;​ the Australian Computer Society; Ian Oppermann, NSW Chief Data Scientist; Victor Dominello, CEO of Certum DCX and former NSW Minister for Digital Government and Customer Service; David Bartlett, former Premier of Tasmania​.

Making data and digital part of the bigger picture

Mr Stewart-Weeks said that the public sector understood the importance of data to their work, and the need to make it an integral part of all activities.

“You don’t need to be a data scientist or an AI expert, but as a public leader you’ve got to get your head around these capabilities,their potential and their risks. It’s not optional. It’s going to be central to high-quality public sector leadership.”

“Sometimes the data and digital work in government is not set in an appropriate strategic context. We think about the technical issues, the transactional and operational issues, all of which are important and often compelx. But I sometimes feel that public sector leaders don’t put that work in the context of what is happening through this revolution to big questions about the purpose, performance and role of government.

“The digital dimension, data and the AI agendas are becoming so big and so overwhelming that it is hard for public sector leaders to ignore them – and that is good thing. The most recent burst of activity around Generative AI and ChatGPT has absolutely made us all sit up and take notice.

“Those at the more technical end of digital, data and AI have got to spend more time explaining to policy and strategy leaders, why the technology piece is so significant to the things that matter to them, to tackling the huge number of policy challenges that they’ve got.”

Regulating AI and sharing data efficiently

He said that there would likely be pressure on governments to put new regulations and frameworks around the use of AI.

“The first question is; are the regulatory frameworks we’ve already got around privacy and data security for example fit for purpose, and are we using them well enough? The answer is probably not. I think there’ll be some quite strong pressure for some additional regulation in those areas where AI has the ability to impact people, especially vulnerable people in their lives. And we’ve already seen calls for outright prohibition in areas like facial recognition.”

He said that issues around data sharing – both across and within jurisdictions – were still not resolved and were holding up progress on addressing social issues.

“This is in part a reflection of the functional and jurisdictional boundaries in government. Data gets treated like every other issue because it is part of an underlying system that’s very strong on divisions and distinctions.

“But that is becoming less and less acceptable, whether it is around Closing the Gap or where there is a really difficult or complex social issue we want to solve, people are saying ‘honestly, we’ve got to find a way of doing this safely and more effectively.

“Necessity can be the mother of invention in this case, and the pioneering work that Ian Oppermann and the Australian Computer Society have done suggests that we can fashion the protocols and practices that make that outcome more likely.”

If you are interested in ANZSOG’s Public Leadership in the Digital Age credential, fill out this form and we will contact you when more information is available.