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Uncharted Territory: What it’s like to work in Outback Oz

Regional Community

Posted on September 6, 2017

2 min read

As an Area General Manager in the Northern Territory, there is no such thing as a typical day and no typical customer story either.

I remember going out to meet a teacher who was having trouble getting an internet connection having just moved to Hermannsburg in the Territory.

Our systems were showing her ‘residential address’ as non-existent as she was housed in a mobile home, but with the help from a number of teams across the business including the Alice Springs store we managed to get her connected to an ADSL2 service.

That is just one of the very unique customer issues we see here in the Northern Territory – Australia’s least densely populated state, with 246,300 residents spread over 1,349,000sq km, and around 45 per cent of the population living outside the urban centre.

With such a great area to cover, the digital divide is substantial in the Territory and we’re working closely with local stakeholders to help overcome the challenges faced by our customers.

Telstra’s co-investment in the federal Mobile Black Spot Program and the $30 million joint infrastructure agreement with the NT Government will help deliver state-of-the-art mobile services to a further 18 new sites in the Territory over the next three years.

This work is critical to supporting local businesses, tourism, and the delivery of essential health and education services.

But it is not just about connecting customers; my team and I are focused on educating the community about technology and the opportunities it can provide them.

Telstra is a diverse organisation hiring people with a range of skills, backgrounds and experiences. Learn more about a career at Telstra and the diversity which we champion.

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NATSIAA: We’re proud to be part of this story

Telstra News

Posted on August 14, 2017

3 min read

This year Telstra marks 26 years of support for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) and it was my honour to be in Darwin when the winners were announced on the weekend.

Telstra’s connection with NATSIAA has grown over the years to the point where they are now a source of enormous organisational pride for us and we feel very connected to a very special story.

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn, with winners of the 2017 Telstra Art Award, Unrupa Rhonda Dick, Anwar Young and Frank Young.

Stories are what Indigenous art is all about and the NATSIAA – open to both contemporary and traditional works – is a platform where these stories can be told and heard.

The stories told at NATSIAA are of country, ceremony, dreaming and a determination to pass on (often sacred) things seen and remembered. Oftentimes there is also commentary on the ongoing struggle with dispossession, despair and identity and this year’s overall winner was no exception.

Wati Kulunypa Tjukurpa (Many Spears – Young Fella Story) by Anwar Young, Unrupa Thonda Dick and Frank Young combined a large digital print and spears arranged as cell bars to comment on the many young Indigenous men who end up in detention. It is a stunningly beautiful and powerful work and also one that I am sure will prompt some serious soul searching in many who see it.

A universal positive

The paradox of the many challenges faced by Indigenous Australians is that it has brought forward so many extraordinary artists.

For indigenous communities, where there are many issues, art is a universal positive and the incredible power of the work comes from the fact that it is one way, one medium, where communities and generations can stay connected to each other.

It provides a sense of purpose, both for those directly involved and for those of us seeking to better understand Indigenous culture and history. It also brings some much needed economic benefit to communities.

Beyond the Awards

Beyond the NATSIAA Telstra’s relationship with indigenous Australians continues to grow and it is our determination to make it stronger.

Just how strong is spelled out in our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which includes programs as diverse installing new mobile base stations and broadband in remote communities to funding research to better understand the nature of cyber bullying in an Aboriginal context; from programs to build digital literacy to promoting Telstra as an employer of choice for Indigenous people.

Our RAP says reconciliation requires more than just words; it says we are accountable, it says we want to achieve something meaningful, it says we are in this heart and soul.

This determination to connect meaningfully also extends to our involvement in the NATSIAA.

Pulse and power

The Telstra NATSIAA now have enormous momentum and global significance. The Awards are part of an extraordinary Indigenous artistic eco-system that stretches right across the land, deep back into the past and energetically toward the future. All of the works displayed carry their own unique pulse and power and contribute to a deeper-thinking Australian society through the fearless sharing of art, and stories.

We are all richer for it, and Telstra is extremely proud to be involved. We are part of this story.

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Help your kids to code and break a world record!

Technology For Kids

Posted on August 9, 2017

3 min read

Most parents would probably relate “Scratch” and “Python” more to chickens and reptiles rather than ways that we communicate with computers, says Prime Minister’s Science Award winning science teacher Ken Silburn. But Code Club’s Moonhack is the perfect platform for mums and dads to start coding with their kids. We asked him for the ‘101’ on why and how to get coding.

We hear about STEM almost every day, but why do young people need STEM skills?

There is a lot of rhetoric about the need to educate our youth in STEM skills, and fortunately, this has been backed up by serious research and funding. The jobs that we as teachers and parents saw as we grew up are changing.  If young people do not have the cross-disciplinary skills of critical and creative thinking, problem-solving and digital technologies – they will be left behind.

What about coding specifically? Is it important?

It’s believed there will be a shortage of computer programmers as we continually move to incorporate more technology into our daily lives.  So there will be jobs for students who know how to code. However, the process of learning to code opens up students to new ways of learning, new ways of thinking and allows them to be fluent with technology.

Serious question: is coding hard?

Coding is not as difficult as some may believe. It is not the domain of high schools and advanced maths. Once you get by the fact that it is something new.  We actually use coding to make many of our decisions on a daily basis in a logical way.  Coding is just a way we can talk to a computer using logical steps that involve a language or set of instructions that the computer can understand.

Why are some parents nervous about coding and digital technologies?

We all like to help our children. However, for many parents, the idea of using a programming language can be scary.  Most parents would probably relate “Scratch” and “Python” more to chickens and reptiles rather than ways that we communicate with computers.   Despite the look of fear imposed on parents when we first talk of coding, like their children, parents are fast learners. Combining a Code Club with positive discussions on STEM sets up students for positive outcomes.

So why is Code Club and Code Club’s Moonhack such a great way for parents and kids to get coding?

On 15 August, all kids have the chance to be a world record holder – by jumping online and taking part in Code Club’s Moonhack – a world record attempt to get the most kids coding in one day. This is an excellent way for students at an early age to get involved in coding.  The Moonhack project is designed for students of all skills from very basic to advance – and it’s perfect for parents to join in.

This is going to be big – you don’t want to miss out. Click here to register.

 

 

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How the digital revolution has transformed youth mental health

Tech4Good

Posted on July 26, 2017

4 min read

Kate was 10-years-old when she was held hostage at her primary school in regional New South Wales.

It was an incident she physically endured for a few hours. But mentally, now 15 years later the impact is felt every day.

Kate was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder – or PTSD – and while dealing with a mental illness is tough for any young person, her regional postcode made her feel isolated.

That’s why Kate is now an active moderator on the ReachOut online forums, helping other young people from around Australia deal with PTSD.

She explains: “There are literally no support services for young people with PTSD in my area. The ReachOut Forums give young people in rural and regional areas a place to go when they wouldn’t have that otherwise.”

And it’s for young people just like Kate that we’re proud to re-launch ReachOut.com to assist young people in greater ways than ever before.

Our new platform provides a one-stop-shop for young people to connect to personalised support when they need it most.

In the two decades since ReachOut launched the world’s first online mental health service for young people, the growth of the internet has helped millions of young people who may otherwise have had no access to support.

It allows us to extend our reach deeper into rural and regional areas where services may be limited, by connecting young people with peer support.

The digital evolution has allowed us to build a service that provides help that’s more tailored than ever before, to a virtually unlimited number of people and whenever they need it, all because it’s online.

ReachOut is the gateway to Australia’s mental health system for young people and is currently accessed by 1.58m people each year.

Through our new platform, we aim to reach an additional one million people over the next three years – and that’s exciting.

REACHOUT HAS BEEN HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE SINCE 1997

In redesigning our service we wanted to reimagine the power of digital technologies to support, connect and empower young people.

But to achieve that, we needed the experts. That’s why we had 174 young people co-design the new ReachOut.com. It has been developed for young people, with young people.

The mobile-first digital platform provides a personalised and interactive service, with a world-leading focus on prevention, self-help and early intervention.

It connects young people to free, anytime help – and focuses on prevention, self-help and early intervention.

Importantly, we also have a range of new features that help parents and carers improve the mental health and wellbeing of the young people within their family environment.

We know that around 70% of our users find ReachOut through Google, so we wanted to ensure the site provides support and resources for any question they might be searching for.

That includes things like understanding mental health issues like depression and anxiety better. It also means issues like bullying, exam stress and relationship difficulties – which we know can cause a lot of mental health issues.

We’ve also worked hard to make the site as accessible as possible. For example, it is now much easier to navigate on mobile devices as we know most young people access the web on-the-go.

In addition, we’ve ensured that they can access all of the services on ReachOut without having to identify themselves. This way, they can access the help they need whilst remaining anonymous – a key concern for anyone when it comes to their mental health.

The platform has been built with young people, for young people thanks to funding from the Telstra Foundation, Audi Foundation and Federal Government Department of Health.

If anyone is looking for help and support, please come to ReachOut.com as your first step.

Telstra and ReachOut

Since launching the world’s first online mental health service 20 years ago, the ReachOut team has continued to challenge themselves to re-imagine the delivery of their services to young people. At Telstra, we share ReachOut’s optimism in the power of innovation and technology to change lives. We are proud to support ReachOut on this journey – as we have for many years – partnering in a number of youth-focussed social innovation programs through the Telstra Foundation. But it was our shareholders who have helped bring the new ReachOut.com to life through the Telstra Shareholder Dividend Reinvestment Program. Find out more here.

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How we’re bridging the digital divide and upskilling older Australians

Sustainability

Posted on July 13, 2017

3 min read

We’re living in a digital age, but many older Australians are being left behind and lack the skills to take advantage of being connected.

With nearly one in five Australians expected to be over 65 years old in 2035, Telstra is committed to reducing the digital divide for thousands of older Australians to ensure good health, full social participation, and independent living through their entire life span.

Our Tech Savvy Seniors program gives thousands of older Australians – particularly those in regional and remote areas of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland – the opportunity to learn how to confidently and easily master new technology and skills.

Through partnership with the NSW Government, we recently travelled to ten regional towns – St Claire, Forster, Guyra, Barraba, Dubbo, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Gundagai, Temora and Bathurst – bringing digital literacy training to over 200 seniors over eight days.

Our eager senior ‘students’ were excited to cover a variety of topics from managing data usage, shopping on the internet, using social media to stay connected with family and friends, participating in local community activities, and importantly staying safe online and being aware of scams.

Google Earth, Skype and the great benefits of super-fast broadband on the NBN were also hot topics. During one of the sessions we were able to locate the hometown of a lady who’d left her home in Greece over fifty years ago and unfortunately has never had the chance to return. Tears sprang to her eyes when we found her childhood home on Google Earth.

At the opening, a digital advocate recounted how she’d been impacted to learn that her grandmother had passed while she was travelling overseas and couldn’t be contacted by her family, which is unusual in today’s truly connected world.

We’re also finding more and more that being connected enables older Australians to remain independent as long as possible by conducting medical appointments in the comfort of their own home, for example.

Often for the first timers, technology is a cause of anxiety due to a low level of comfort with it, but once they’re shown the ropes, participants start seeing the clear benefits for themselves, and in fact are fascinated by the potential of technology. The best part is seeing the excitement and smiles on their faces when they make video calls to a loved one!

I’m proud to be involved with the Tech Savvy Seniors program that’s helping older Australians maintain an active engagement in life through involvement in social and productive activities and interaction with others. The program ensures the whole population of Australia is taken along the journey in our efforts to become an innovative nation.

How we’re bridging the digital divide
Through partnerships with Government, we’re delivering free technology training to help seniors from multicultural backgrounds get connected online. The face-to-face technology training sessions are offered in a variety of languages, including Arabic, Cantonese, Croatian, Dari, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Mandarin and Vietnamese. Find out more https://www.telstra.com.au/tech-savvy-seniors

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