Guest blog: Practical tested actions for the social sector in the digital economy – by Professor Jane Farmer

In the lead up to the Society 4.0 Forum, Director of the Social Innovation Research Institute at Swinburne University of Technology, Professor Jane Farmer, explains why it is crucial to ensure that social good is supported as automation increases.

Social good in the digital economy

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) is already upon us. Industry 4.0 means disruption to how society works – due to the potential capabilities of mass data digitisation linked with technologies such as AI, automation, machine learning and predictive analytics. ‘Digital economy’ refers to an economy that is based on these technologies.

Society 4.0 is the area where the societal implications of living with, adapting to, and securing wellbeing in, the digital economy come together – it’s where technology meets humanity.

Social good organisations must adapt so the future is not just the domain of large faceless organisations – the only ones that can afford to keep up with change, new technology and employ data specialists. Our mission at the Social Innovation Research Institute is to support non-profits, government and communities to thrive in Society 4.0.

Society 4.0 toolkit and solutions

For the past year, we’ve been scanning the globe to find initiatives where communities and social good organisations are meeting Society 4.0 head-on. We’ve done this by testing audacious and inspiring actions, so that social good survives and isn’t trampled out as automation arrives. 

Society 4.0 draws together a toolkit of top-quality international leaders to support individuals and organisations to gear up for the digital economy happening now and causing significant social disruption. Society 4.0 delivers several major themes with an impressive lineup of Forum speakers driving the change for good:

  • Communities powered with data and public interest tech: World-leader in forming data collaboratives to make collective impact and outcomes measurement happen, Stefaan Verhulst from GovLab at New York University, will present on developing data collectives. Tom Dawkins from StartSomeGood, along with a panel of top social innovation technology entrepreneurs, will explain how to ignite a public interest tech sector to bring new jobs and better technology. Entrepreneur Alvaro Maz from Code for Australia will discuss how the public sector can radically reskill.
  • Work and wellbeing in Society 4.0: Providing practical solutions for organisations and governments, Alice Martin from the New Economics Foundation UK and Geri Sumpter from Beyond Blue will deliver ways to make people well at work and to take responsibility for wellness to system level. Nicolette Barnard from Siemens and human services leader Jo Cavanagh from Family Life will explore methods to reengineer social services in an interactive conversation that invites your input.

Society 4.0 gives you real things to start doing now – for people in a better society.  Don’t miss this.

The Society 4.0 Forum is presented by the Social Innovation Research Institute at Swinburne University of Technology on 30 October 2019. Register now to attend this solutions-orientated event, filled with practical tools and strategies for social good to survive and succeed in the digital economy.

Guest blog: Creative industries in Industry 4.0 – by Dr Jessica Pacella

In recent years, ‘creative industries’ has become a politically charged issue across the globe. Dr Jess Pacella, Lecturer at the School of Creative Industries at the University of South Australia, and External Editor for the Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO) Work, Learning and Wellbeing in the Digital Economy Collection, explores what this means in the age of Industry 4.0 and for the future of work.

Creative industries add both economic and cultural value to society by generating knowledge, information and artefacts through creative practice and production. When using resources in the APO Cultural Policy & Creative Industries Collection (Cultural Policy Collection) it is worth to keeping in mind that there is a key debate among researchers (and policymakers) about what constitutes the ‘creative industries’ sector and hence, how it should be measured.

A 2016 provocation authored by Nesta contributors Hasan Bakhshi and Professor Stuart Cunningham, Cultural Policy in the Time of the Creative Industries, outlines how, in the geographic context of the UK, more robust metrics for distinguishing between ‘creative industries’ and the ‘creative economy’ could lead to vast improvements in policy development for a sector that is now estimated to contribute over £100B per year to the UK economy (DCMS 2018).

Work, Learning and Wellbeing in the Digital Economy

There is also much crossover with creative industries and the APO Work, Learning and Wellbeing in the Digital Economy Collection (Wellbeing in the Digital Economy Collection). Understanding how creativity, critical thinking and other soft skills can be applied in jobs of the future, in addition to understanding the limits of automation (many crafts people and makers have skills that are impossible to automate), showcase the complexity and diversity of research within the Cultural Policy Collection.

At the heart of the Wellbeing in the Digital Economy Collection is the intersection between the key elements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – also known as Industry 4.0 (these are automation, AI, robotics and Internet of Things) and the future of work.

Recent research has sought to understand the nuance within the digital economy and differences between what constitutes the ‘gig economy’, the ‘sharing economy’ the ‘platform economy’ and the ‘task economy’, and the various ways in which these on-demand practices undermine or supplement people’s wages. As such, debates around what defines work, and the differences between, for example, ‘freelancer’, ‘gig worker’, ‘casual worker’, and ‘contract worker’ are vitally important for preventing the erosion of industrial labour rights and protections.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, much of the literature and research in the Wellbeing in the Digital Economy Collection either implicitly or explicitly incorporates data on the future of wages, quality of work life, and future skills and employment forecasting in what many predict as an uncertain job market driven and influenced by technological change.

Editor’s note: APO is based at Swinburne University of Technology. By embracing Industry 4.0 using digital technologies to create social and economic impact through science, technology and innovation, Swinburne University is developing practical approaches to incorporating Industry 4.0 thinking across teaching and research. Read more about Swinburne University’s Industry 4.0 initiatives.

Meet Carissa – First Peoples Collection Editor

The APO First Peoples & Public Policy Collection (FPPP Collection) was launched in partnership with the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) in February 2019. I spoke to Carissa Lee Godwin, Specialist Editor of the Collection and First Nations academic, about the need for this Collection in the First Peoples’ policy space.

Carissa Lee Godwin, Specialist Editor for the APO First Peoples & Public Policy Collection

Emily: Carissa, welcome. It’s fantastic to have your specialist First Peoples knowledge contributing to APO. To start, can you tell me a little about your background?

Carissa: I’m a Wemba-Wemba and Noongar woman. I’m currently completing my PhD in Indigenous Theatre through The University of Melbourne. 

Emily: Can you give us a quick intro to the Collection? 

Carissa: Yes, of course. The APO First Peoples & Public Policy Collection was launched at the ANZSOG Reimagining Public Administration Conference in February this year, and it’s fast becoming one of the most visited Collections on the APO site. The Collection collates and curates policy-relevant and accessible resources specific to First Peoples. It focuses on Australian and New Zealand resources, as well as international First Nations resources, where relevant.

Emily: Why did APO partner with ANZSOG on this Collection?

Carissa: ANZSOG believed that we could assist with better education of First Peoples’ and public policy through the Collection, with the goal of influencing better policies being created as a result.

Emily: Can you share what kinds of resources this Collection contains?

Carissa: We collect and curate articles, publications, policy and government documents. A notable quality of First Peoples is that we’re great speakers, so the Collection also has transcriptions, video and audio files available to access.

Emily: Providing ‘spoken word’ resources sounds wonderful. Can you tell me a little bit about your personal experience being a First Nations researcher? Are there any particular challenges that you’ve faced?

Carissa: As a First Nations and First Peoples academic, I have found that it’s not always straightforward when it comes to accessing First Nations-themed or First Nations-written materials. It’s often especially difficult to find out if a particular resource was written by an Indigenous person. 

The development of this Collection needs to be a collaborative process. I can’t stress that enough. Because that’s how mob work.

Carissa Lee Godwin, First Peoples Collection Editor

Emily: So are you saying that there is a need for Indigenous academics to reference materials by other Indigenous authors, but it’s hard to find this information?

Carissa: Exactly. Some First Nations academics, myself included, like to ensure that their literature review predominantly contains materials written by other First Peoples, so as to ensure cultural and ethical integrity within our research. 

Emily: It must be frustrating not being able to find that information easily when it is so crucial to your research.

Carissa: Yes. Because ethnicity isn’t always explicitly stated on some search engines, this can be a tricky endeavour. In addition to this, it’s often useful to know what mob/nation is being represented in the publication being read, as not all First Peoples belong to the same groups.

Emily: Is there anything else that makes this Collection special? I mean, some people may ask why they can’t just use Google, or search for these resources on APO.

Carissa: All APO Collections are designed to make the research experience much more efficient and provide a space to explore both broad and focused subjects. 

Emily: Can you share your key objectives for this Collection with us?

Continue reading “Meet Carissa – First Peoples Collection Editor”

First Peoples public policy collection launches

We are thrilled to announce the APO First Peoples & Public Policy Collection, established in partnership with Australia & new Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG). This collection has been created to gather together First People’s digital policy resources all in one place.

The APO First Peoples & Public Policy Collection (FPPP Collection) highlights existing knowledge, databases and information that support policy and practice for First Peoples. It features resources for and by First Peoples and those working in Indigenous public policy and administration.

The collection was formally launched at the ANZSOG Reimagining Public Administration: First Peoples, governance and new paradigms conference on 21 February 2019 in Melbourne.

ANZSOG’s Catherine Althaus officially launches the APO First Peoples & Public Policy Collection at the Reimagining Public Administration conference (Melbourne, 21 February 2019)

Welcome to Carissa Godwin

With the arrival of this collection, we warmly welcome Carissa Godwin to the APO team. Carissa is the new Specialist Editor of First Peoples & Public Policy. She will be working with ANZSOG and members of the Indigenous community to curate and develop our First Peoples resources.

APO is hosted at Swinburne University of Technology, the first Australian University to have it’s Reconciliation Action Plan recognised at Elevate status.

Image: Gathering Knowledge. Artist: ARBUP Ash PETERS Wurundjeri/Taungurong Man, local artist and direct descendent of Coranderrk. This painting depicts the continuous cycle of footprints on a never ending journey travelling around Swinburne University’s campuses located on Wurundjeri land.

If you have feedback or queries about the FPPP collection, please get in touch with Carissa Godwin at For more general enquiries about APO Collections, contact

Informit launches new Policy Database via APO partnership

Media release from RMIT University Newsroom – see the original here

5 March 2019

Informit is thrilled to announce the addition of a new Policy database as part of an ongoing partnership with the Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO). Informit customers will now have access to over 35,000 public policy records including research reports, articles, papers, policies and other grey literature. The new database expands Informit’s range of hard-to-find Australasian content, located in one place.

Informit APO Policy record

In 30 years of service to the information management industry, Informit has firmly established itself as the go-to place for Australasian research content. It provides access to unique specialist content through its collection of over 100 databases, across a range of subject matter.

The new Policy database is an extension of this offering and part of the next phase of Informit which includes significant platform upgrades and enhancements.

Michael Tully, Informit Director, said,“What makes this partnership so exciting is that Informit and APO are working together to deliver on preserving and providing access to high quality content and towards a common goal of delivering the most value to Informit customers.”

Michelle Zwagerman, APO’s Digital Product Manager commented, “This collaboration enables us to expand the reach of our policy content through Informit’s well-established Australasian network and helps Informit customers discover our hard-to-find Policy content quickly and easily.” 

APO provides access to digital policy and practice resources, making them visible, discoverable and usable. Established by and hosted at Swinburne University of Technology since 2002 and supported by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) and the Australian Research Council, APO is highly regarded in the policy space and well known for curating top quality content.  

Karen Mahlab from Pro Bono Australia praised APO’s content and its practical applications in her role, “I use APO to find evidence for issues I’m interested in. Every week, it becomes more authoritative with the papers pulled together from thousands of sources.”

The Policy database is now available via Informit and will soon be searchable through all major library discovery services. Customers who are interested in subscribing to the Policy database are encouraged to contact us [Informit] for a trial or quote.

For more information about Informit or to start searching, visit or to find out more about APO, go to

Swinburne names APO a ‘Change Maker’

Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO) has been named as a ‘Change Maker’ by Swinburne University of Technology (Swinburne) in a publication featuring 15 research impact case studies. APO is highlighted as digital provider of ‘better information for more people‘ in case studies covering diverse research areas, from astrophysics to homelessness.

Swinburne’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development), Professor Aleksandar Subic

The release of the publication was announced by Swinburne’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development), Professor Aleksandar Subic.

‘I am pleased to let you know that we have published Change Makers – a compilation of 15 diverse stories of research impact from across Swinburne that showcases some of our most inspiring and transformative outcomes,’ said Professor Subic.

‘These case studies showcase how innovative research and strong partnerships can create positive real-world change in industry and the community,’ he said.

Better information for more people

APO is featured as one of three digital providers of ‘better information for more people’ alongside current affairs publication Inside Story and youth election coverage monitor UniPollWatch. These three enterprises were all ‘born digital’ and collect and organise information to make it more discoverable and usable in new ways.

Originally named ‘Australian Policy Online’, APO began at Swinburne in 2002 as an open access database for policy research. Awarded the ‘Best Information Website’ at the 2014 Australian and New Zealand Internet Awards, APO has grown from humble beginnings to having more than 4.2 million users from around the world, with 16.4 million page views.

At the time of writing, APO hosted an impressive 38,928 policy resources in 1,264 subjects, contributed by more than 6,000 institutions and almost 27,000 authors – numbers that continue to grow steadily year on year.

APO’s comprehensive array of policy contributors includes government departments and agencies, research centres, think tanks, civil society organisations, consultants, research companies and academic publishers from all around the world. Many organisations have also joined as partners and APO Collection sponsors.

Change Makers case study booklet

Change Makers is a compilation of 15 diverse case studies of research impact from across Swinburne University. This research is in line with Swinburne University’s Research and Innovation Strategy – ‘Transforming Industries, Shaping Lives and Communities’, and the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Engagement and Impact Assessment agenda. Enquiries about this publication can be made to Swinburne Research.