ABSIA's Journey has been remarkable in the short few years since it was formed in 2014, and recognition must go to the early Directors' relentless efforts and the tremendous, continuing support from the ATO that has been invaluable for ABSIA.
A little reflection ... In November 2016 when I stepped into the role of ABSIA President, a few unexpected events surfaced, not the least of which was that all the ATO secondees returned to their home groups in January 2017. As challenging as it has been over the last two years, that was a defining moment for ABSIA to shed its dependence from the Government and learn to fly.
A few ABSIA Directors worked very long hours to keep the association running and the go-live of the Product Catalogue was no small feat. Single Touch Payroll was an all-consuming program that tested, redefined and refined the engagement between the Industry and the Government. Nearly $50K of long-term debt was paid off, which now allows ABSIA to employ two part-time resources rather than having a total reliance on volunteer Directors. ABSIA's internal systems have also been migrated to a more secure environment.
Through this period, ABSIA's priorities remained unwavering: driving Australia's Digital Agenda and urging the Whole-of-Government approach to delivering Digital Services with the ultimate aim to promote a vibrant software and technology industry in Australia.
ABSIA continues to build credibility with the Government in order to advocate for our members more effectively. Two Commonwealth Government Ministers participated in our 2017 Annual Conference. ABSIA's brand has extended beyond Australia, having presented to the US Congress and the White House and having contributed to the US Government's foray to use SBR for their reporting and administration of US$650b annual grants allocations. At the recent 2018 Annual Conference, New Zealand and Singapore Governments participated as well as Australian Commonwealth and State Governments.
The nature and the level of discussions between the industry and the ATO has changed noticeably over the last few months. The show-and-tell approach has shifted to conversations of a strategic nature where the Industry can inject and contribute innovative ideas on how the ATO can achieve its Strategic Objectives. Joint efforts are underway to constructively find solutions to shared problems. Given our collective history, this is one of the more exciting developments.
ABSIA's Membership has grown from 15 at the end of FY14 to over 80 at the end of FY18. ABSIA's reputation and what it stands for has attracted high calibre Director candidates to stand for elections at the Annual General Meetings for the last two years.
Renewal is a good thing. David Field, the driving force behind ABSIA's inception, will step down from the ABSIA Board at the end of this year and David was bestowed the Inaugural Lifetime Individual Member for his contributions to ABSIA. As the last remaining member of the original ABSIA Board, I will step down from the President position and continue to serve on the Board to focus on Government partnerships.
I am very excited about the new ABISA Board for 2019. Chris Howard will take the mantle as the incoming President to lead a fantastic team of Director with a can-do attitude and the "greater good" mindset as the guiding light, full of energy and fresh ideas.
Foremost, I wish to thank ABSIA Members for your continued support, also the volunteers and Directors past and present for your contributions.
Wishing you all the very best for 2019.
Thanks for being a part of our association in 2018. We look forward to working with you again in 2019 as the voice of the business software industry. The Board and Staff from ABSIA wish you a safe, happy holiday season and all the best for the new year.
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