Making the Connection

By Jackie Coates
General Manager, Telstra Foundation

A new frontier, full of opportunities: this is the way we often think about the rapidly changing digital age. Yet are these opportunities the same for everyone?

Recently we released Making the Connection, a series of thought-provoking essays, examining the challenges, opportunities and pathways to Indigenous digital excellence.

For Indigenous Australians living in remote parts of this country, the potential impact of digital inclusion is greater than many of us can even imagine. The ability to instantly connect, message and share content and images is something many of us now take for granted.

The digital world offers an array of new opportunities and positive outcomes for Indigenous communities. And while many Indigenous people are embracing new technologies, there are significant barriers that still remain when it comes participating in, and benefiting from, digital access. Closing the gap between the digital ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is one way to build bridges towards greater social equity.

Making the Connection covers a range of views, looking at issues that surround the digital landscape for Indigenous communities. They examine improved access to technologies, and the factors that influence whether Indigenous people use them.

Essayists include Luke Pearson, whose @IndigenousX social media project is one of the most recognisable contemporary social media movements today, leading academic and educator Dr Lester-Irabanna Rigney, Dean and Professor of Indigenous Education at the University of Adelaide, and Jason Glanville, CEO of National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. Providing a Telstra ‘voice’ are CEO David Thodey, along with Tim O’Leary and Lauren Ganley from Telstra’s Chief Sustainability Office.

While it is agreed that there are a range of barriers-to-access for many Indigenous peoples in relation to the digital world, there is a sense of shared agreement among the authors of the need to avoid the roadblocks in the quest for excellence and equity. Making the Connection is an important milestone for Telstra. It raises key issues for consideration by all who are playing a role in the digital future for Australia and represents our further commitment and investment towards digital excellence for Indigenous peoples.

I’m proud that through the Telstra Foundation positive steps are already being taken. Research into the current status of digital exclusion in Indigenous Australia has been conducted, the Indigenous Digital Excellence Agenda Summit in 2013 was supported by the Foundation in partnership with the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE); and, the Foundation’s $5 million grant over five years is well underway in supporting the Indigenous Digital Excellence hub at the NCIE Redfern campus.

I encourage you to take time to read Making the Connection, and join us on the journey towards Indigenous digital excellence.

January, 2015

#DigitalInclusion

#IndigenousAustralians