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NCIE and the Telstra Foundation: at the cutting edge of Indigenous Digital Excellence

Technology For Kids Tech4Good

Posted on July 11, 2013

3 min read

This week is NAIDOC week, a time to celebrate Indigenous successes and recognise Indigenous Excellence through the NAIDOC Awards. I find it exciting that more and more NAIDOC events are being shared digitally through social media and websites.

The NAIDOC website is where you will find many events across Australia to attend. It also lists many of the past National NAIDOC Award winners back to 1985. The importance of using digital technologies to record our achievements is highlighted by the missing awards data in the 1990s. Hopefully by sharing these knowledge gaps through our digital social networks, we will be able to track down the winners. Digital technologies are increasing in importance to the Indigenous community, and we need to look at how we can include more of the Indigenous community in the digital space.

Indigenous digital inclusion for me, means a well-connected Indigenous community where we all are connected in the way we prefer, able to share what we want, in a manner that is culturally safe, and be well informed about opportunities that digital technologies provide.

It was a great privilege to be able to explore Indigenous digital inclusion at the recent Indigenous Digital Excellence Agenda (IDEA) Summit – a fantastic initiative of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) and the Telstra Foundation.

I was struck by the innovative ideas that were generated. I have worked in the Indigenous digital space for over a decade and have waited patiently (and at times impatiently) for the Indigenous Digital Era. I am glad to be able to say with some confidence that it has arrived! Now we just need to make the most of it.

I was fortunate to be one of the authors of a discussion paper on Indigenous Digital Inclusion for the IDEA Summit. I have researched and studied in this area for many years, so I wasn’t overly surprised about what the research team found. Some of the issues that are worth noting are that just over 50% of Indigenous households are connected to the internet, whereas over 70% of non-Indigenous households are connected. This means that there is a significant part of the Indigenous population offline.

Looking at the internet connection data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that availability of an internet connection is not the main reason why the Indigenous community is less likely to have the internet connected. So we have to explore other aspects of digital inclusion. This gives us a great opportunity to look at the content of websites and start building a strong Indigenous digital presence online, with Indigenous content, Indigenous designed interfaces, Indigenous designed mobile devices, and Indigenous designed apps.

The partnership between the NCIE and the Telstra Foundation is a game changer and places the NCIE at the cutting edge of Indigenous Digital Excellence well into the future.