The internet has many advantages for remote Indigenous people, such as faster communication and greater access to services. However, internet access also has brought particular challenges, writes Telstra’s General Manager, Indigenous Directorate, Lauren Ganley.
Limited understanding of cyber-safety and a lack of mechanisms to address these issues may lead to reluctance amongst some remote communities to adopt communication technologies, who run the risk of missing out on the benefits that modern technology can bring.
Concerns about cyber-safety, such as dealing with offensive images and messages, cyber bullying, privacy problems, including hacking, identity theft, and managing digital footprints, are not new. However, there has not been a comprehensive Australian study on the prevalence, impacts or evaluation of the most effective strategies to tackle cyber-safety in remote Indigenous communities.
To address this, Telstra is partnering with the Swinburne Institute of Social Research to undertake comprehensive research and evaluation in this area. With guidance from local Northern Territory communities and organisations, the research will assess the effectiveness, transferability and long-term sustainability of cyber-safety and digital capability strategies for use in remote Indigenous communities.
With field work already underway, the research forms part of Telstra’s broader digital inclusion program for Indigenous Australians. It also complements our co-investment agreement with the Northern Territory government to improve telecommunications services for the bush. Research findings will be published towards the middle of next year, including recommendations on how best to develop programs and resources for Indigenous people in remote locations and what might work in other parts of Australia.
At the core of Telstra’s third Reconciliation Action Plan is our vision to make sure all Indigenous Australians have the access and capabilities to benefit from digital technologies. This research will not only help inform how we do this, but also drive public policy and debate to ensure all Australians can participate and interact safely in the digital world.
How to stay safe online
- Read Telstra’s cyber-safety resources for tips and advice on how to stay safe.
- Visit Telstra Foundation partners Project Rocket and The Alannah and Madeline Foundation for events in your community.
- Explore the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner website for additional resources.
For more information about digital inclusion
- Visit the Digital Inclusion Index and find out how we’re measuring digital inclusion in Australia
 ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (2013), Submission to the Inquiry into issues surrounding cyber-safety for Indigenous Australians. Melbourne, Swinburne Institute for Social Research.
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