Looking out from Itree’s headquarters over North Beach Wollongong, it’s hard to think 20 years ago the company founders were based in a small room at the University of Wollongong campus. In that time, as CEO Ben Hobby explains, the company has deployed its cutting-edge technology to drive safety outcomes that are having profound effects across Australia and New Zealand.
Its latest success has been the product launch of their secure inter-agency information sharing interface, called “REACH,” aimed at protecting vulnerable children and families at risk across Australia. Originally funded as a proof of concept by the Federal government, REACH focuses on the decisions related to the movement of families interstate under child abuse scenarios, by securely connecting to each State and Territory based child protection system, allowing agencies to share vital, sensitive information to improve efficiency and reduce the time to help those most vulnerable. This technology could not have been successful five years ago, and Hobby is proud the company has built this system from the ground up to have such a transformative effect on Australian society.
“It’s rare that you get to enter a workplace that is very technical in nature and produce something that is going to have an immense social impact for this country and our children at risk. It is everybody’s business to make sure children are safe.”
Being at the forefront of such technological developments is no easy feat, yet Hobby and the team have no intention of slowing down. For 2019, continued growth and value generation will be Itree’s major priorities and to keep evolving with the latest technologies in cloud, mobile and machine learning, to facilitate great outcomes with the latest initiatives for government and industry productivity.
“We are going to keep growing and do it in a way that drives safety outcomes and aligns with our company values, which fits fantastically for the culture of our people.”
Itree’s long-term objective is to continue to grow the business, providing more IT and innovation related jobs in the Illawarra and beyond, and taking initiatives such as REACH international, which are core to future expansion plans. The company was faced with a location decision in 2018 due to growth, and determined the best place to be was right here in the heart of innovation. Hobby credits this decision to Wollongong’s balance between the lifestyle that people enjoy, the very high calibre of graduates from UOW and strong relationships that are fostered at the Innovation Campus amongst its community members.
“If you combine the high quality facilities of the Innovation Campus, the emerging talent from the University of Wollongong and the Illawarra region together, Itree is in large part what it is today because of what the flourishing region here has to offer.”