Transport "transformed" by technology: Patsy Kennedy

Public servant Patsy Kennedy is about to celebrate 45 years of working in transport. As she approaches this milestone, Patsy has reflected on her career in an industry that she says has always been progressive and at the forefront of change.

Patsy Kennedy, 2021

The seasoned traveller began her journey at Victoria’s Transport Regulation Board (TRB) where she joined the typing pool in 1976.

As the TRB became the Road Traffic Authority (RTA), which then merged with the Road Construction Authority to become VicRoads, Patsy’s transport career also followed a number of different directions until she landed her current role as a digital content advisor for the Department of Transport, managing the VicRoads and Regional Roads Victoria websites.

Over the past 45 years, she has had a box seat to witness the impact that technology has had on the transport industry, where she started her career by typing bus timetables on to cassette tapes using a Redactron.

“In the early days, we were allowed to smoke at our desks,” Patsy recalls with a laugh. “But usually you’d be so busy typing that the cigarette would burn out before you could take a puff.”

Just three years later in 1979, the TRB invested in four word processing units which shared one disc, bigger than a basketball.

“It was absolutely huge, but it only stored one gig,” Patsy says. “And to think now you can get a tiny USB stick with 64 gig storage. Incredible.”

VicRoads launched its first website in 2004, but Patsy found herself working in IT long before then. 

As PA to Lorraine Johnson, director of IT at RTA, Patsy was inspired to complete her graduate diploma in applied information systems at RMIT in 1988.

Lorraine had an enormous impact on Patsy’s career, encouraging her to be adventurous and embrace new learning opportunities wherever she could.

Determined to keep up with her IT teammates, Patsy returned to university.

“When I worked in IT, I loved watching how the guys went about their work, trying to problem-solve,” Patsy says.

“I decided to go back to school so I felt like I could understand what everyone was doing. 

“It's definitely helped me with the web, but also the process of trying to nut things out and find the answer to a problem.”

Patsy has loved watching the internet transform the way people access information and interact with the public service over the past 45 years.

She says technology has empowered people to make better decisions about transport projects that will improve their lives.

“With the internet, people can now find information and contribute to projects,” Patsy says.

“It’s transformed the whole industry. People are no longer happy to sit there and believe what they’re told; they want to find out for themselves. They want to be involved. It’s changed the world.”

- Anna Walsh

Patsy Kennedy, 1979 Seasoned traveller Patsy Kennedy in Venice, 1979