In conversation with: Angelene Falk, OAIC

In conversation with Anegeline Falk
We are excited to welcome Deputy Commissioner at the OAIC, Angelene Falk to this year’s CeBIT Australia.Over the course of a varied career, Falk has been a lawyer, educator and policy adviser. At our Digital Health conference she will be a panellist on a discussion titled: Digital health data, information management and clinical informatics. We caught up with her prior to the event to discuss what inspires her, what she loves about technology and how technology could change the healthcare space.

How did you get to your current role?

Angelene: As Deputy Commissioner, I’m the Privacy and Information Commissioner’s principal advisor and oversee the operation of the OAIC’s services in both privacy protection and information access. Before becoming the Deputy, I was an Assistant Commissioner at the OAIC, and developed our business and community implementation when new privacy laws were introduced in 2014.

Prior to the OAIC, I held positions with Statutory Boards and Commissions as a lawyer, educator and policy adviser in the discrimination area. I’d seen many instances of privacy breaches resulting in discrimination against more vulnerable members of the community, so I felt working with the Privacy Commissioner was a logical next step and a great opportunity to work in an area with both human rights and economic dimensions.

What do you love most about working in technology?

Angelene:  My role is in an area where technology intersects with personal information and human behaviour. Technology keeps changing and advancing, and human behaviour is infinitely varied and complex. Putting these things together means my work is always evolving and never dull!

What is the most challenging part of working in this sector?

Angelene: Making sure the ‘next big thing’ builds privacy in. Australians are early adopters with new technologies, which is great, but increasingly new technologies rely on personal information to provide a personalised service. For example, wearable devices are used by many Australians to track and monitor various aspects of their health.

Sometimes in our rush to get the latest, we don’t pause to read the fine print, so keeping privacy top of mind for consumers is a key challenge. Fortunately, many businesses also recognise the value of privacy as a brand trust mark, so that helps to make sure privacy is built into new products and services from the start.

Name a book, podcast or presentation that has had an impact on your worldview. How has it changed your perspective?

Angelene:  Some years ago I listened to the then Governor of NSW, Dame Marie Bashir speaking in Hyde Park. She talked about the diversity of the Australian community with an understanding, compassion and insight that resonated deeply with the audience. That occasion was such a great example of the power of positive leadership to unite people and make a difference.

What is the technology that will transform the world in the next 10 years?

Angelene: I’m probably not the person to ask! I think it was Arthur C Clarke who said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. So, at current pace, I’d say there will be some products in a decade that seem simply unimaginable now.

The potential for technology to transform health care is certainly vast. I mean, we need only look at the achievements of our new Australian of the Year, Alan Mackay-Sim to see that things previously regarded as impossible are becoming reality.

What’s the most valuable advice you’ve been given?

Angelene:  Play to your strengths and trust your instincts.

Lastly, do you use an iPhone, Android or… other?

Angelene:  I’ve used them all. So long as there is a big screen they work for me!

If you’d like to har more about the latest in digital health technology, you should consider attending the CeBIT Australia 2017 conference. You can get your tickets here.