Bill McLennan, Former Head, ABS

I was impressed by the #Censusfail submission to this Committee. It very clearly showed some good analysis that would have helped the ABS to run a better Census if it had done such research before developing the Census proposal. It also saved me from explaining the current thrust in government with the Government Data Linkage Project, and its likely links to the Census. Bill McLennan (Former Head of the ABS, Former Chairman United Nations Statistical Commission) in his Submission to the 2016 Inquiry.

Senator Scott Ludlam

“We could hear from digital rights organisations like the Privacy Foundation, Digital Rights Watchand Electronic Frontiers Australia and from specialist researchers like Rosie Williams and Asher Wolf, who have led the debate online.”

Garry Brooke, Former Director, Appropriations Management Team, Department of Finance

I’ve worked with Rosie Williams on budget data transparency since November 2013. Rosie has developed her OpenAus data project into the best government data transparency initiative I know. OpenAus has been continually updated and improved to make underlying data intelligible and to focus on key aspects for analysis. My interest has particularly been on the transparency of federal budget data. BudgetAus is the best ongoing facility for reviewing and analysing spending data, especially by programme. Rosie’s efforts have added significantly to the transparency of federal budget data. She has also become an important member of the non-government community who are trying to enable better and more informed use government data.

Chris Nilsson Developer, Python/PHP

Rosie’s efforts on OpenAus are amazing. Pulling together otherwise isolated, incomplete, and inconsistent stores of government financial data into a manageable, understandable view. Single-handedly giving us the kind of transparency we should have been given in the first place.

Dr Tim Senior, Doctor/Academic & health journalist

The value of a database which collects figures from a variety of sources and links them is huge, and would certainly have value as a business setting which is not available elsewhere. An example for me was the collecting and linking of figures relating to bulk billing and socioeconomic measures, which hadn’t otherwise been done, but is crucial is determining health policy.It is not just the production of the database that has value, but the responsiveness to government and community questions, your expertise in statistics and their interpretation and the coding of this for a searchable website database – skills rarely found in one place. In addition, your ability to draw on a wide network of expertise makes this an invaluable resource, and not sustainable, if it is to be done properly, on a volunteer setting. I have no doubt, though, that the value I and many others place on your work would make this a viable commercial enterprise. I wish you every luck with this endeavour, not just for you, but because it makes a real contribution to many others wanting to understand and improve the data available about communities in Australia, but more importantly, use this to improve the way those communities work. Dr Tim Senior

Open Data Projects

Projects I designed, coded & administered are below. All projects were discontinued mid 2016 as not enough funding could be found to sustain them. Links are to pages on archive.org

My very first programming/open data project, BudgetAus received national and international recognition and was part of the push to open the federal budget as open data for the first time in 2014-15.

OpenAus:Charities – data with tenders and grants by name, location, topic

OpenAus:Tenders – Tenders data by federal electorate, party, location, agency, topic with SEIFA results by location

OpenAus:Grants – data by federal electorate, party, location, agency, topic

OpenAus:Follow the Money – Tenders and grants data matched against political donations by party, organisation, with donations measured by proximity to contracts OpenAus:Entitlements – federal entitlements totalled by expense type, member, party, electorate

KnowYourPlace – SEIFA data matched against medicare usage rates by federal electorate, child immunisation rates by location, welfare recipients by fed electorate, ABS heritage and family breakdown, education by location.

BudgetAus – Federal budget by portfolio, agency, program, topic plus tenders and grants


The Little Bird is founded by Rosie Williams. Rosie has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Sociology (social conflict/social change/economic & social inequality/public policy). Rosie also has a range of programming skills and expertise in open data, particularly as it relates to financial and political transparency. Rosie is a whistleblower and proud member of Whistleblowers Australia.

The Little Bird aims to build relationships and share information between people with interest and expertise with the general public over a broad range of issues that contribute to an open and accountable society. The Little Bird covers all issues of interest to transparency and information activists including (but not limited to) freedom of information, media freedom, privacy, whistleblowing, anti-corruption, digital rights, transparency, accountability. Projects this network will focus on include articles and resources of assistance to whistleblowers.

More detail can be found in this post and at the donations page. Contributors can choose the copyright licence for their own articles by placing it at the foot of their article. A key player in #CensusFail, The Little Bird website has had approximately 20k page views since July 1 and built a significant network on Twitter. The #CensusFail campaign is the most significant privacy awareness campaign since the Australia Card issue in the late 1980’s.

I was included in a list of ’15 Amazing women making ideas happen around Australia’ and created Australia’s first Open Data MOOC. Developing this curriculum provided me with a good basis for understanding for where the current approach to government-public interface can be improved which I fed into Australia’s first National Action Plan for Open Government.

I was also successful in having the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare included in the agencies participating in the Open Government Partnership as well as participating in the release of several open data sets and campaigns to prevent the abolition of both the ACNC & OAIC and lobbying to have MP entitlements and pecuniary interests data published in a timely and machine readable fashion.

Prior to my projects in open data/programming as a single mother I raised and homeschooled my profoundly gifted son who began studying university courses online at 12, going on campus at 15 before beginning his full time programming career at 16. During this time we advocated for the right to radical acceleration to improve educational inclusion and ran a support group for families of exceptionally & profoundly gifted children. I was successful in lobbying to have homeschoolers included in social security regulation.


The #CensusFail Submission | AOGPN Blog | IdeasHoist Interview | ABC Radio PM Interview | Power to Persuade| Egov Au | Open Knowledge Network | International Budget Partnership | Croakey Health Blog | Online Opinion |New Matilda| Independent Australia | No Fibs

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