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Judith Ellis

Our birthday Standards Heroes have been nominated by their peers to represent all our contributors - individuals we consider to be the real heroes of standards, in Australia and internationally. We thank those who contribute their knowledge and expertise, service, and time to Standards Australia for the benefit of the Australian community.  

Judith Ellis held multiple roles in standards development, including Member Standards Australia IT-021 Records and Document Management Systems, Chair ISO/TC 46/SC 11 Information & Documentation - Records Management and Member ISO Technical Management Board/ Joint Technical Co-ordination Group (JTCG) - on Management Systems Standards (MSS).

How did you become involved in standards development? 

An initiative from within my industry put the case to Standards Australia that we needed a nationally recognised and agreed foundation standard for recordkeeping.  This was adopted and I joined the new Technical Committee IT-021 Records and Document Management Systems in 1992 to undertake this work. I have been actively involved in the development of numerous standards and handbooks produced by IT-021, as well as leading some of the projects. I have since represented Australia at the international level on the ISO Technical Committee for recordkeeping for 20 years, chaired this committee for the past six years, and am a member of other ISO committees such as those on management systems standards and the Joint Technical Coordination Group on Management System Standards.  

What role have standards played in your career?   

As a consultant in information management, involvement in standards has assisted the development of my thinking.  As a result, it has informed the quality and depth of services I offer my clients, by basing practice in a sound, nationally and internationally agreed conceptual framework. This has contributed to me being recognised as a knowledgeable, experienced practitioner in my field. A standards-based approach gives my clients confidence in my company’s services, and in turn, results in return work or valuable word of mouth referrals. It has also supported my roles in university teaching and course development, industry training, and editing books in my field.

What is a project you’ve been particularly proud to have helped deliver? 

At the Australian level, my participation in the development of the first six-part national standard in recordkeeping was a major achievement. This product was widely used throughout Australia, and its successor products have been adopted as the professional practice benchmark for recordkeeping throughout all Australian jurisdictions. The early standard led to ISO accepting its value as the starting point for the development of an equivalent international standard and the establishment of the first ISO Technical Committee in this field. I was involved in developing the resulting international standard, and related products, which have been adopted across all continents and translated into many languages.    

Outside of standards development, what have been some highlights of your career? 

The main highlight has been the ownership and operation of a successful consulting company for over 40 years. The company provided consulting services, on-hire placement of records professionals to clients, and training services. Allied with this is the wide range of organisations I have worked with, from stockbroking to dog food, mining to disability services, non-profits, governments across Australia and some overseas, international aid projects under industry strengthening or governance programs, and many others. Another highlight is involvement in a collaborative and committed industry of professionals, where I’ve made long-standing connections and many friendships.

What do you think the future of standardisation looks like? 

I would like to see greater collaboration between standards committees leading to more integration of, or greater interoperability between standards products where possible. Examples include: the ubiquity of technology in everything we do, the need for privacy and data protection across most domains, and the increasing community expectation for organisations to demonstrate good governance. Adoption of core principles in such areas can support business effectiveness and reduce the siloed application of different practices across different domains.  Linked to this, the further development and use of SMART standards will transform how standards are used and integrated into our business and personal online world.

Is there anything you’d like to say or mention about Standards Australia’s centenary year?

Standards Australia’s 100-year history has demonstrated great vision, as its scope and depth of coverage of technical fields have developed and grown. It’s initiatives and participation in the international standards arena have given Standards Australia a strong global presence and as a leader in many areas.  The next 100 years will see industrial and societal developments at a greater pace than the past 100 years. Standards Australia’s challenge and opportunity is to build on its past strengths, engage the high level of expertise needed, and produce products that support national development and sustainability.