From the auDA CEO: 2018 in Review

Posted by auDA on 12 December 2018

On 23 November 2018 we held our first Annual General Meeting under the new constitutional and governance arrangements, as passed by auDA members in September. As at previous AGMs, all attendees were able to ask questions and raise issues directly with the auDA Board and management.

I gave an overview of the key events of 2018 which I’ve recapped below.

You can download the slides of my AGM presentation here: auDA 2018 AGM - CEO Presentation

The State of the .au Namespace

At 30 June 2018, there were 3,153,979 names registered in the .au namespace. This represented approximately 2% annual growth, which is in line with the growth rates of other ccTLDs.

Our challenge over the next few years is to improve the utility of the .au ccTLD which is facing significant competition from other TLDs and the social media and ecommerce platforms which have transformed the way we live, communicate and conduct online business.

The changes we’ve undertaken in 2018 mean we’re well placed to focus on improving the operational stability and utility of .au in 2019.

A More Resilient and Secure Namespace

The Registry Transformation Project was the major focus for the early part of 2018 and on 1 July, the successful transfer of registry operations to Afilias Australia was completed.

The importance of this achievement to both auDA and the .au namespace cannot be overstated. The transfer of registry operations to Afilias Australia, the biggest of its kind ever (and recognised by a Guinness World Record) has helped push .au to the forefront of TLD responsiveness and security. 

Governance Reforms for a New auDA

In April this year the Department of Communications and the Arts (DoCA) handed down its final report of its Review of the .au Domain Administration.

As a result, much of auDA’s focus this year has been directed to implementing the recommendations made by the government and its renewed Terms of Endorsement of auDA.

We’ve made significant progress and are on track to achieve the reform needed to take auDA into the future.

Over the coming months we’ll be focusing on some specific issues to finalise the transformation of the organisation.

It is important that we continue to update stakeholders on progress in this regard. One of the key platforms to achieve this is auDA’s Transparency and Accountability Framework. The Framework outlines the way in which auDA will report publicly on its activities, and further promote and enhance industry and consumer feedback into its decision-making process.

auDA will be releasing this document for public comment over the summer period and welcomes feedback from all stakeholders on how we continue to meet public expectation on how we manage the .au namespace.

Nomination Committee and Board Appointments

We’re approaching the interview stage for appointments to the Nomination Committee and expect the appointments to be finalised before the end of Q1 2019.

Once the nomination committee is in place, the process to renew the board will begin, with board directors to be appointed in line with the new board skills matrix

Membership and Stakeholder Engagement

A new membership structure, developed in close consultation with our stakeholders, was a major part of the government’s recommendations and is a significant part of the new constitution.

We’re in the process of developing the new proposition for auDA membership along with a renewed Associate Membership application process which satisfies the new eligibility requirements while being quick and accessible.

We’ll soon be releasing our stakeholder engagement plan which outlines what we believe to be an ambitious, but effective, framework to ensure the .au namespace is responsive to the entire Australian internet community’s needs.

Community consultation is core to auDA’s purpose, and the new Technical and General Standing Advisory Committees are a key, community-driven part of auDA’s new constitution. We expect to issue Expressions of Interest for appointments to these committees in early January 2019.

A Better Policy Framework

The Policy Review Panel’s goal has been to reform .au policy to make it easier to understand and to better reflect consumer expectations.

Over the last few months the Policy Review Panel ran a number of focus groups to get open and specific feedback on its work developing a proposed implementation model for direct registration.

The groups, representing various sectors of Australia’s internet community and industry, have enabled the PRP to develop recommendations more closely attuned to the needs of Australia’s digital industry and internet users.

An update from the Panel will be issued shortly which will further outline activities and achievements to date, along with the next phase of targeted and public consultation to ensure that their final recommendations to the auDA board have been thoroughly assessed and considered.

While 2018 has been transformative for auDA, it’s also been extremely challenging. The entire auDA team has worked tirelessly to deliver extraordinary results under intense scrutiny and in sometimes trying circumstances and my sincere thanks goes out to them.

2018 has seen auDA enter a new phase - and one that was overdue.

However, I’m confident the successes of 2018 and our ongoing program of change will leave us extremely well placed to grow the .au namespace and ensure its ongoing security, stability and utility for the entire Australian internet community.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all auDA stakeholders a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year and I look forward to working with you all, and welcoming your ongoing contribution to our activities in 2019. 

Cameron Boardman

.au Domain Administration