By Jackie Coates
General Manager, Telstra Foundation

How might Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples leverage digital technologies to improve their own, and their community’s wellbeing?

That was the question underpinning IDEA:  the Indigenous Digital Excellence Agenda.

IDEA was a wide-reaching research, consultation and collaboration project – a partnership between Telstra Foundation and the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) – that spanned an intensive 6 months of activity in 2013.

The aim was to understand the challenges, opportunities and aspirations of the Indigenous community in relation to digital technology – to build a foundation for an actionable strategy.

We engaged with thinkers from all corners of Australia – more than 1,000 in all – including Indigenous academics, and business and community leaders.

The project encompassed:

  • A discussion paper exploring Indigenous digital inclusion led by Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney from the University of Adelaide, commissioned by the Telstra Foundation.
  • Face-to-face consultations with Indigenous leaders, from the Torres Strait Islands to Tasmania, led by Lauren Ganley, Telstra’s General Manager National Indigenous Directorate.
  • An Online Collaboration co-led by the NCIE and the Telstra Foundation and facilitated through the IDEA website and social media.
  • A two-day Indigenous Digital Excellence Summit, co-led by the NCIE and the Telstra Foundation, which hosted more than 30 established and emerging Indigenous leaders.

What emerged was a clear message that Indigenous Digital Excellence demanded an Indigenous-led movement, a purpose-built home, a co-created strategy and a national voice.

In response, the Telstra Foundation has committed to an ambitious plan to create Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) initiative:  a five-year, five million dollar partnership with the NCIE.