South Australia launches AU$120 million Digital Restart Fund
The government of South Australia has announced a AU$120 million investment into projects that support an improved digital experience and provide access to information for businesses and individuals dealing with government.
The Digital Restart Fund, announced as part of the state’s 2020-21 Budget, will include AU$13.4 million to transition a range of government services onto a new portal that will aim to provide a more user-friendly single point of entry customer interface to government.
AU$14.8 million over five years will be used to upgrade the Department for Innovation and Skills’ skills information system to enable improved service delivery, data management, and productivity; the Audio-Visual Link upgrade project across the justice sector will be given AU$14.2 million to enable more services and court proceedings to be undertaken remotely; and AU$8 million over three years will be spent on replacing the current Consumer and Business Services systems.
Also included in the Digital Restart Fund is AU$7 million in enhancements to the state’s public transport system to enable a “tap on” facility for debit and credit cards.
AU$3.7 million over four years will be spent on enabling electronic roll mark-off in polling and pre-polling booths, an online portal for candidate lodgements, and the ability to apply for a postal vote online.
Births, Deaths and Marriages records will be converted to electronic ones for a cost of AU$3.3 million and AU$3 million will be spent on replacing the Public Trustee customer relationship management system.
The state’s budget has been touted by the government as a two-year state stimulus package to assist the state’s economic recovery post-COVID-19 so it can transition towards “exciting jobs of the future in defence, space, cybersecurity, and related advanced technology industries”.
The Department of Premier and Cabinet is in 2020-21 aiming to improve the citizen and business interaction with government through digital delivery of services, including the SAGOV Services Portal.
It will also focus on digital inclusion initiatives across government; aid the growth of the South Australian cybersecurity industry through the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre at Lot 14; increase the state’s cyber resilience and preparedness for “new and emerging cybersecurity threats”; and implement digital identity initiatives alongside the Australian Digital Transformation Agency.
Through December 2023, Innovation and Skills also has AU$12 million for digital transformation, with AU$3.5 million to be used this year on a program to “deliver innovative information and communications technology solutions to support the effective delivery of agency outputs”.
As part of a AU$5 billion stimulus package — which includes a AU$1 billion contribution from the Commonwealth — the state will spend AU$530 million on a business and jobs support fund.
AU$87.9 million will be used by the Skills and Jobtrainer package and AU$186 million is allocated to the next round of small business grants, which will provide AU$10,000 grants to small businesses and not-for-profits who remain adversely impacted by COVID-19. It will also provide AU$3,000 grants for owner-operated small businesses conducted from a commercial premises that do not employ staff. AU$48.8m was paid to small businesses in the first round of grants.
AU$32.9 million over four years, meanwhile, will be used to support a further 750 traineeship and apprenticeship places in government agencies and funded projects in qualifications that are assessed as having high growth potential, including cybersecurity and housing construction.
As part of South Australia’s AU$305 million bushfire response and recovery package, AU$22.3 million will be provided to eligible small businesses as part of AU$10,000 grants for loss of income as a result of bushfires. AU$2.8 million will similarly be provided as recovery grants of up to AU$50,000 for eligible small businesses and not for profits.
A small business hub will also be stood up on Kangaroo Island, thanks to AU$1.5 million allocated in the 2020-21 Budget.
Emergency services funding includes AU$34.9 million over four years invested into the SA Police Force’s mobile workforce transformation program, which will see upgrades to systems and the establishment of remote connectivity for all SAPOL staff and in SAPOL vehicles.
An additional AU$5 million will be used on the implementation of an automatic vehicle location system for the emergency services sector to provide the real-time location of firefighting and other emergency response vehicles during incidents.
The state will also contribute AU$2.5 million to upgrade the emergency alert, which is the national telephone warning system used by emergency services to send voice messages to landlines and text messages to mobile phones within a defined area about likely or actual emergencies.
With a total of AU$330 million, comprised of some Commonwealth funding, the state will also upgrade and expand a number of health-related services, including AU$196.8 million to complete the rollout of the Sunrise Electronic Medical Record and Patient Administration System across remaining metropolitan local health networks.
AU$20.4 million has been allocated to expanding mental health support services that have transitioned to digital due to the pandemic.
While AU$83 million in additional public health measures, including increasing SA Health’s contact tracing capacity, has also been included in the Budget. The state is also providing AU$1,500 to individuals asked by Health to isolate or quarantine.
The government is this year hoping to connect every government preschool and children’s centre in South Australia to fast, reliable internet. It also wants to upgrade cabling within every government preschool as part of the government’s Digital Foundations initiative.
As part of a AU$6.9 billion, four-year infrastructure investment, the state will also spend AU$18.3m on a state-wide electric vehicle charging network to increase the uptake of electric vehicles, accelerate smart charging, and vehicle-to-grid charging trials.