Priorities in Australia’s IT Sector for the next Government

Pieter Danhieux, CEO and Co-Founder, Secure Code Warrior

With the Federal election just days away, there is still a great deal of debate around how we move Australia forward to achieve a safe and prosperous future. One of the major areas attracting comment is the cyber world both in terms of security and growth. As part of that discussion, we reached out to six senior leaders in the Australian IT sector and asked “Regardless of which side wins the forthcoming federal election, what should our next government do to address key IT business challenges currently facing Australia?”

Our first respondent is Pieter Danhieux, CEO and Co-Founder, Secure Code Warrior.

What is required to overcome the current skills shortage that is causing pain across the IT sector (and others)?

I think the IT sector could benefit greatly from more effort to promote STEM disciplines at the high school and university level, especially to those who are underrepresented in these fields. It is so important that everyone feels welcome to pursue a great career in tech, and visibility is key. I’d also love to see more education around the enormous range of specialisations that exist, even in cybersecurity alone there is a use for almost all skill sets.

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What steps need to be taken to shore up the cyber defences of Australian government departments and agencies?

Recent steps have been taken by the Australian government to focus on defending our critical infrastructure from cyberattacks and Nation-State attacks, and this is a key step in the right direction. However, very little is ever said about preventative cybersecurity strategies. In general, government departments and organisations would be far better placed to reduce cyber risk if security was a key concern during every stage of their software development and implementation process. Spending time and money at the beginning to reduce vulnerabilities and educate teams on security best practices is a lot more cost-effective in the long run, compared to dealing with a successful breach.

Does more need to be done to improve the cybersecurity measures in place within Australia’s private sector?

Yes, in general, we need to be less reactive, and take security more seriously. It is easy to blame a lack of security professionals on security programs being ill-equipped, when in reality, there are ways to better use the resources we have to enact a better outcome.

Israel and Estonia are often cited as examples of smaller countries that have nurtured a thriving start-up IT sector. What does Australia need to do to join this list?

There is no shortage of tech and business talent in Australia, but we need to nurture this culture more than we do today. We have a thriving group of tech companies that have shown they can own the world stage, and there is more where they came from. Government funding, as well as a commitment to use and promote Australian tech creations where possible would be a huge benefit.

 Are Australian companies investing enough in R&D? What should be the role for government in this area?

R&D is critical for continuous improvement and innovation, but it can be very costly. More government funding would be ideal, as would initiatives that make it easier for companies to collaborate, share knowledge, and help the ecosystem grow.