OzTech: Govt fast tracks 60k visa applications; $16M to help market bushfire tech; Funds for national security; LaTrobe helps recruit overseas engineers

OzTech Roundup is Computerworld Australia’s weekly look at the world of IT.

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Government fast tracks 60,000 visa applications from overseas

The federal government will prioritise processing almost 60,000 permanent visa applications lodged by skilled workers based overseas. In an interview with ABC’s RN Breakfast, minister for home affairs and cybersecurity Clare O’Neil said since a lot of applications come from those already living in Australia, focusing on these do not help with the skills shortage issue, so the focus will be on those applying from overseas.

Although technology may be among these, the minister mentioned other areas as priority, including health workers, nurses, aged-care workers, and teachers.

$16M to help bring bushfire tech to market

New round of grants will see $16 million allocated over three years to help those working on bushfire prevention technology to get them to market. The first round of the New South Wales government’s Bushfire Commercialisation fund is offering grants of between $200,000 and $8 million to individuals, companies, research institutions and universities, to help them commercialise their research.

The state government wants to become a global leader in such technology commercialisation, while working on a serious local problem and creating jobs on the way. The fund is also an incentive to adapt existing technologies for use on bushfire management and operations.

Applications are now open.

New round of funds  to combat national security and intelligence challenges

A total of $5.8 million has been awarded to universities under the National Intelligence and Security Discovery Research Grants (NISDRG) program.

Four projects shared $2.3 million to address national security challenges. The IT related projects were awarded to:

  • The Australian National University , which will investigate strategies for mitigating supply chain risk in the Australian economy.
  • The University of Western Australia, which will work to secure AI systems for defence applications by comprehensively addressing its vulnerabilities to attacks.

The University of Queensland and the University of Melbourne were the other recipients of funds.

Six projects shared $3.5 million to address intelligence challenges. The IT related projects were awarded to:

  • Macquarie University which will address the increasing public menace of phone scams through redirecting scam calls to conversational AI bots optimised to present convincing scam victims.
  • University of Technology of Sydney which will develop novel ultralight meta-lattice composites as a solution to tackle the issue created by directed energy systems to defence satellites.
  • The University of Sydney to work on security at the edge.
  • The University of Melbourne to research, develop, and deliver approaches that tackle autonomy and robustness challenges for machine learning within a miniature satellite.

The University of New South Wales and Monash University were the other recipients of funds.

LaTrobe helps overseas engineers find jobs in Victoria

LaTrobe University is launching a pilot program to prepare overseas engineers to find work in Victoria. The six-week, online Preparation for Professional Employment (P4PE) Program will expose participants to Australian workplace culture and recruitment practices, quality assurance and compliance, and presentation and networking skills.

The program will assist participants to align their career to date with opportunities within the regional Australian engineering and manufacturing sector. Applications are open until 19 August 2022.

The program has a $500 fee, which can be paid by programs such as Job Active, or through Centrelink and agencies.

LaTrobe expects an intake of 20 participants during this phase of the pilot.

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