As part of their day-to-day work, government agencies create large amounts of data. Making this data open and accessible to the public can improve government transparency, support research and drive economic growth.
Open government data does not include private information about individuals. It is non-personal, unclassified and not confidential. Examples of open data include: public transport timetables, crash statistics, popular baby names and school zones. There are many benefits to releasing this data. For example, developers incorporate public transport data into applications, so Victorians can access this information on the go. Similarly, school zone data has been incorporated into real estate platforms, providing additional information to property purchasers.
Since 2012, the DataVic Access Policy has governed the release of Victorian Government data. There are currently around 4,700 data sets are available on data.vic.gov.au with approximately 3,000 downloads per month. Victorians have come to expect to be able to find information about their Government.
Since the DataVic Access Policy was established in 2012 there has been rapid transformation in the creation and use of data across government. These developments have been confirmed by research into open data supported by the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC).
Given this transformation, DPC has undertaken a review to ensure that the Victorian Government’s policy settings around open data are well positioned for the emerging data future.
From this review DPC developed a report containing 10 recommendations:
1. Establish a clear vision for open data by endorsing a new Open Data Policy.
This is the main recommendation in the report. The Victorian Government seeks feedback on the consultation draft Open Data Policy, which is intended to replace the Data Vic Access Policy.
2. Define policy outcomes to capture the full range of benefits of open data.
The outcomes, in section 4 of the consultation draft, place greater emphasis on building public trust, social development in Victoria, and responsible data stewardship in the Victorian Government.
3. Explore options to measure and maximise the impact of open data, including through collaborations with open data users and other jurisdictions.
This will ensure Victorians understand the benefits that are being delivered through open data.
4. Provide clear direction as to what data agencies are expected to release.
Section 3 of the consultation draft clearly defines what data is covered, while section 5 requires agencies to “proactively release data to achieve the policy outcomes”.
5. Consult with the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) to mitigate the risk that open data could be used to identify individuals.
Guidance will be developed through consultation with OVIC to help agencies reduce the risk of re-identification.
6. Publish open data under permissive licences, with public domain being the default.
This is addressed in section 5 of the consultation draft. It will ensure that open data can be used with the fewest possible restrictions.
7. Develop a category of ‘specialised data services’ to allow agencies to recover costs of releasing data to sophisticated users, where the costs of doing so are significant.
This could result in more tailored data services for specific commercial or research purposes.
8. Work with agencies to prioritise the publication of datasets that further policy outcomes and build release into their data management practices.
This will help agencies to make more targeted decisions about what data they release and when.
9. Engage the public on the proposed Open Data Policy.
Public engagement is essential, which is why this consultation is taking place.
10. Ensure policy and guidelines are easy to follow, relevant, and up-to-date.
The policy and any future guidelines need to be as concise and user-friendly as possible.
You can download a detailed copy of the report below.
DPC is seeking your feedback on the draft Open Data Policy. After considering your feedback through
this process, DPC will finalise the Open Data Policy and reconfirm the
Victorian Government's commitment to open data.
Draft Open Data Policy
Open data is data that is made available for anyone to use. The Victorian Government proactively publishes open data through the data.vic.gov portal.
The Victorian Government gathers and creates large amounts of data that has the potential to deliver significant benefits to the community. Open data can increase citizen understanding of government, inform business decision-making, and enable the development of innovative products and services. It can also improve research outcomes and help government solve pressing public policy problems.
In 2012, Cabinet endorsed the DataVic Access Policy, which initiated the Victorian Government’s open data program. This policy replaces the DataVic Access Policy and reconfirms the Government’s commitment to open data.
Victoria strives to be a world leader in the publication of open data. This policy will help ensure that the Victorian Government is among the world’s most transparent and trusted, and provide rich opportunities for researchers, business, policy-makers and citizens.
This policy applies to all departments and public bodies as defined by section 3 of the Financial Management Act 1994 (agencies).
Data has the same definition as the Victorian Data Sharing Act 2017 meaning any facts, statistics, instructions, concepts or other information in a form that is capable of being communicated, analysed or processed, whether by an individual or by a computer or other automated means.
This policy applies to data held by agencies, unless access is restricted for reasons of privacy, confidentiality, public safety, security, law enforcement, public health or compliance with the law.
This policy operates in conjunction with the Whole of Victorian Government Intellectual Property Policy.
The policy aspires to achieve the following outcomes through open data:
- increase government transparency and public trust
- enable data-driven economic and social development in Victoria
- enhance public engagement with issues that affect the lives of Victorians
- support responsible data stewardship within the Victorian Government.
Under this policy agencies will:
- proactively release data to achieve the policy outcomes
- manage open data in accordance with applicable standards and guidelines
- ensure open data is authoritative, timely and complete
- publish open data under a permissive licence and in a machine-readable format
- make open data available for free unless a permissible exception applies 
The policy is administered through the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC). The policy will be supported by guidelines approved by the Special Minister of State.
The implementation of the policy is the responsibility of agencies. Departmental Secretaries and agency heads are responsible for authorising the release of datasets, subject to this policy.
DPC will regularly review this policy and accompanying guidelines and update where appropriate.
 An agency may commercialise or apply the Cost Recovery Guidelines to open data if there is:
- an explicit statutory function to do so, or
- explicit authorisation to do so by the relevant Minister after consulting with the Treasurer because of a clear net benefit to the Victorian community.
The Department of Premier and Cabinet is committed to protecting your personal information in accordance with Victorian privacy laws.
The information you provide will be used to inform the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s review of the DataVic Access Policy and approach to open data.
The information you provide as part of this review will be made available as open data and published in aggregated form on data.vic.gov.au.
The information you provide will be summarised and collated with other submissions for the Special Minister of State and other Ministers and Departments and Agencies to inform the review.
Personal information that is collected by the Department will be used by, and disclosed to, departmental employees whose duties require them to use it. Your personal information will be handled in accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) and any other applicable legislation regulating the collection, use, disclosure, storage and destruction of personal information.
You may contact us to request access to your personal information, or for other concerns regarding the privacy of your personal information via https://www.data.vic.gov.au/contact-us
For the Department’s full privacy statement visit: www.vic.gov.au/privacy-vicgovau
If you do not provide your personal information, we will not be able to identify your written submission if you wish to access it, make a correction or require technical support.