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Tag: diversity-and-inclusion

Giving Indigenous Australians a visual voice with Indigemoji

Regional

Posted on December 19, 2019

4 min read

Emoji help us tell our stories in visual ways, and through our Indigenous digital inclusion efforts, we’re working alongside our First Nation’s people to help tell their stories digitally and visually with the “Indigemoji” project.

Graham Wilfred Junior was born with spina bifida in 1983, and his family was told he would never walk on his own. Shifting between various family members in Arnhem Land and foster homes in Darwin, Graham eventually wound up sleeping on the streets of Katherine. But he had a deep inner strength and the innate artistic abilities of his parents, and these led him – along with a great deal of pain and perseverance – to the doors of inDigiMOB in Alice Springs.

This gentle artist is now the driving force behind a vibrant ‘digital arts hub’ at the Alice Springs Public Library, where a group of inDigiMOB mentors, artists and Arrernte speakers are helping hundreds of young Territorians to hone their digital skills.

InDigiMOB is a pioneering digital inclusion project established by First Nations Media Australia and Telstra, which since 2016 has delivered hands-on training to more than 6,000 people through a series of workshops, mentoring, and culturally appropriate digital tools.

The project is currently preparing to roll out ‘Indigemoji’: Australia’s first series of Aboriginal emojis, in partnership with the Alice Springs Public Library, the NT Government, CAYLUS and Ingeous Studios.

The Indigemoji project was developed as part of digital art workshops with members of the Mparntwe/Alice Springs and other remote Australian Indigenous communities. Over seven weeks of workshops, hundreds of emoji designs were developed.

Caddie Brain, a former ABC journalist who co-founded the Indigemoji project, says the digital storytelling skills developed through the Indigemoji project provide new opportunities for preserving the culture and iconography of remote communities – not to mention their threatened languages.

“Many communities around here have only recently got mobile phone coverage and Internet access, so the uptake of technology is still relatively new,” says Caddie. “The new emoji icons are a response to that, enabling people to communicate in a way that’s culturally relevant to them – one small way of decolonising the Internet.”

The striking series of locally-themed ‘emoji stickers’ will be usable in mobile messaging via a free app developed by the Indigenous design agency, Ingeous Studios. The project has brought together a vibrant community of artists, illustrators, Arrernte linguists and young people – all committed to capturing their culture’s essence in a series of hand signals, facial expressions, plants, animals, and other instantly-recognisable facets of local life.

Ben Smede, inDigiMOB’s project manager, says that Indigemoji is designed to give a visual voice to Indigenous Australians.

“This project is a great way to make these symbols more relevant and inclusive for the rapidly growing numbers of Aboriginal people who are communicating through social media,” Ben says.

“Every emoji has an Arrernte name and description” adds Caddie, “and this connection between new technology and ancient Arrernte culture is at the heart of the Indigemoji project.”

Besides this sense of belonging and cultural identity, there are other benefits for the individuals involved that cannot be measured or captured in a simple turn of phrase, including Graham Wilfred Junior.

“Making these emojis takes me far away from my old depression and nightmares,” says Graham. “When I was a teenager living with this disability, I went through times where I wanted to commit suicide. But coming to this place and working with Caddie has been a life-changing experience.

“People see me out and about on my bicycle, and they say ‘Hey, you’re that artist from the library’. It’s so motivating for me – just feeling that I’m helping these young people to build their future.”

The Indigemoji sticker set will be released later on in 2019 as a free app for all.

This article was originally written for Telstra’s All In Accessibility & Inclusion newsletter by Ralph Johnstone.

More free calls and data over Christmas for those in need

Network

Posted on December 18, 2019

3 min read

Christmas is a time for connections. Too often, we take the phone in our pocket, the laptop on our desk or tablet in our bag for granted as a means to reach out to those we love. We’re driven to connect every Australian to the ones they love, especially those in need. This year, we’re not only bringing back our free payphone calls over Christmas, but we’re expanding it for anyone who needs it.

Once again, we’re opening up our payphone network to provide free local, national and standard mobile calls from Telstra payphones around the country. On top of the free calls, we’re also making selected Telstra Air Wi-Fi access points free to anyone during this time.

Free calls and data over Christmas for those in need
Jana Kotatko, Telstra, and Major Brendan Nottle, The Salvation Army

In previous years, we had opened our payphones from December 24-26, but this year we’re extending the time Aussies can take advantage of the free calls. We’ll be opening our payphone network up from December 24 – 1 January 2020 inclusive.

Last year, over 120,000 calls were placed during the period. Meanwhile, over 23,000 users connected to our Telstra Air hotspots over the period, with 3.55 terabytes transferred in total. We’re proud to expand the window this year to ensure more people can connect than ever before.

We’re driven to ensure that those who are separated from their families by circumstance, or even those who want to reconnect for the first time in a long time are given every opportunity on our network. Christmas is a time where feelings of isolation and loneliness can be at their peak, so we want to bring families closer together with a simple phone call, text or video call.

Image: Herald Sun

“We know it’s some of the most vulnerable members of our community who’ll benefit most and we hope they can take this opportunity to reach out and reconnect with their loved ones over Christmas,” said Major Brendan Nottle, The Salvation Army.

“A simple phone call could make all the difference this Christmas and help reconnect Australians doing it tough with their loved ones or long-lost family or friends.”

We’ll be spreading the word about this offer far and wide in the lead-up to Christmas so we can be sure those in need know that a friendly voice is just one free call away.

Nothing beats the sound of hearing a loved one’s voice, especially at a time like Christmas when a focus on families coming together is really heightened. It’s an important opportunity for those in the community who might be feeling isolated at this time, and we hope that even more Australians take up the opportunity to connect with their loved ones this year.

Things you need to know:

Free calls around Australia to local, national and standard mobiles from Telstra payphones from 24 December 2019 – 1 January 2020 inclusive. Free calls exclude international calls and premium services (19x), Mobile Satellite, and 1234, 12456 directory services. Excludes Telstra rented payphones. Free Wi-Fi data at select Telstra Air payphones and Telstra Stores, in Australia only. Telstra Air available for Wi-Fi enabled devices only.

Images: Herald Sun

A connected future is an accessible future

Inspiration Business and Enterprise

Posted on December 3, 2019

4 min read

Tuesday 3 December is International Day of People With Disability. The TelstrAbility Employee Representative Group hosted a panel on accessibility in Sydney and Melbourne to hear about how we can build a connected future so everyone can thrive. The event was live-streamed to audiences around the country.

One of the key takeaways was recognising that becoming an accessible employer and an accessible company doesn’t just happen overnight. At our collaborative panel event, our people who live with disabilities discussed the long journey towards becoming an accessible business.

They each identified areas where there have been improvements, while highlighting shortcomings that we’re well on our way to addressing.

Chris Riley, one of our Ways of Working coaches, offered an interesting insight on the journey of accessibility and how we all have a role to play.

“Is technology perfect for accessibility yet? Heavens no. But is it getting better? Absolutely.

“But accessibility is not just about building better technology, it’s about people. It’s about mindset. As a coach I train people on mindset as the powerhouse behind everything.

“By making small changes of mindset, you can have a big impact towards creating more accessible working environments,” Chris said on the panel.

Adem Cifcioglu, Founder and Director of Accessible Technologies at Intopia, told the audience that “you don’t know what you don’t know”, and that people “never set out to make something inaccessible”. Inaccessibility happens when teams building products and services don’t seek diverse perspectives from someone who may use that product or service with a specific requirement.

He added that accessibility is more than just a checkbox: it’s about designing something to be accessible in every step of the development process.

One of our key values is “better together”. It’s about understanding that we benefit from what we have in common and strengthen our internal culture by leveraging our differences to build things collaboratively. Amy Whalley, Deputy CEO of Australian Network on Disability, recognised that as part of our “better together” practices, we need to recognise that accessibility is everyone’s job.

“There isn’t one person responsible for driving accessible culture and accessibility,” Amy says. “Everyone is responsible for disrupting biases to make sure that we’re creating an accessible workplace. If you see something that isn’t accessible, make sure you call it out within the organisation,” she added.

Amy said that the most effective way to ensure you’re being open and accessible is to remember the acronym “ATP”. That stands for “Ask The Person”.

“By thinking about the humans who interact with the technology, we get the best results. Asking the person what they need is the biggest leap forward we can take for accessibility,” Amy said.

Chris Riley added that ATP is great, and needs to be a constant feedback process: “Keep checking in on people and keep asking the questions about what they need to do their job well!”

Amy also mentioned that Telstra has recently become one of only a dozen Australian organisations to be recognised by the Australian Network on Disability as a Disability Confident Recruiter. This is significant, as it recognises us as an accessible workplace of choice for the 1 in 5 Aussies living with a disability.

We’re obsessed with attracting the best talent to help build a connected future, and by making our recruitment and employment processes more accessible we’re now able to select from a broad and diverse talent pool.

Becoming a Disability Confident Recruiter, or DCR, sends a message to skilled candidates with disabilities that they can feel confident to apply for roles with us, and that we have the flexibility, the technology and the culture that supports them to thrive.

Being certified as a DCR means we’ve worked to remove barriers to the recruitment process and build new workplace adjustments to cater for those with an accessibility requirement, while becoming an employer of choice within the disabled community to attract more talented individuals to our ranks.

Being an accessible employer unlocks huge value for a business, and in turn its shareholders. Companies that improve their accessibility are four times as likely to build greater shareholder return after doing so. That’s why we’re acceding to the requirements of being a DCR and updating our internal disability policies to ensure everything from our premises through to our products are accessible to everyone.

A connected future has to be an accessible one, and by working collaboratively to ensure we’re better together, we’ll ensure that we’re building that connected future for everyone.

Working to make society more digitally included

Sustainability

Posted on September 17, 2019

3 min read

It is amazing to think of the technological and digital advancements that continue to be made.

About 10 years ago, many of the things we do on a daily basis did not exist. From ordering a taxi through an app, searching and booking accommodation in real-time, streaming music and video, and sharing our photos online with family and friends.

However, for many in our community, these technological and digital advancements can remain out-of-reach whether it is due to a lack of access, affordability or digital ability.

The 2019 Australian Digital Inclusion Index*, released today, is the most comprehensive picture of our online participation through these three measures.

Last week I spoke at ACCAN’s National Conference about the challenges their members face in navigating, accessing and paying for the services we can take for granted.

The themes discussed at the ACCAN event and what the 2019 Australian Digital Inclusion Index found are familiar. That is in the four years since we started measuring digital inclusion in Australia, affordability remains the one measure where significant improvements have not been made.

Although the nbn is assisting in improving access, the affordability gap between high and low-income households is at the same level as it was in 2014. Improvements to affordability are unlikely in the absence of a lower cost wholesale nbn broadband product.

Among other key findings of the 2019 Index:

  • In general, Australians with low levels of income, education, and employment are significantly less digitally included. There is consequently a substantial digital divide between richer and poorer Australians.
  • The gap between the most digitally included age group (people aged 25-34 years) and the least digitally included age group (people aged 65+) narrowed for the first time since 2014.
  • While the cost of internet data has gone down, households are now spending more money on internet services to account for higher usage. Expenditure on these services has increased faster than increases in household income.
  • Affordability is a particular challenge for Australians on low or fixed incomes because they have less discretionary income to spend.

Earlier this year we launched our new purpose:

The word ‘everyone’ speaks to our responsibility to make sure the benefits of today’s modern telecommunications environment are there for everyone.

We will use the findings of the Digital Inclusion Index to continue to help inform our policy positions, community programs and business efforts to boost digital inclusion in this country. And we encourage others to use this report in a similar way so we work together to reduce the gap.

More and more, technology and connectivity are essential for being a contributing member of society. It is sobering to think that there are still many of our community who are missing out on the vital benefits they need because they cannot connect.

As Australia’s oldest and largest telecommunications company we have a responsibility to ensure that access, affordability and digital ability improves.

You can download the 2019 Australia Digital Inclusion Index here.

*RMIT University’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre and the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University develop and produce the Index in partnership with Telstra and Roy Morgan.

All dads flex: celebrating inclusion and flexibility this Father’s Day

Inspiration

Posted on August 30, 2019

5 min read

Creating an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive, personally and professionally, is a priority for us at Telstra. We’ve listened to our people and put policies in place to support their priorities. In celebration of Father’s Day, some of our Telstra dads have shared how this is paying off for them and their families.

It’s important for us that all of our people can bring their wholes selves to work and feel empowered to balance their work and life in a way that works for them and our business. So we’ve focused a lot on flexibility and fairness – for everyone.

For example, our All Roles Flex approach to work gives our people flexibility and choice in where, how and when they perform their roles. This may mean working outside normal business hours or from different locations, job sharing, or even having the ability to express a preference for certain scheduled shifts. This kind of flexibility is enabled by the technology and tools our people need to connect with their teams and customers anywhere, any time.

Beyond flexible working, we’ve also recently changed our parental leave policy to make it fairer and more flexible for all. We did this by removing the distinction between primary and secondary carers and providing more flexibility in how the leave can be taken.

We recently asked some of the dads at Telstra for their experiences of working flexibly, and we wanted to share their stories.

Happy Father’s Day to all for this Sunday.

We hope you are showered with socks, jocks, chocolates and love!

Tim McMahon – Technical Expert, Clayton

It has been 4 weeks since Evelyn was born. 😍 Time flies!

Back to work on Monday. I’ll take the remaining 12 weeks paid leave later on. 😊

The parental leave policy was a wonderful surprise for my wife, Yuanyuan, and I. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster from the time the midwife, Cassie, handed Evelyn to me while she focused on keeping my wife awake after having lost so much blood.

By taking the first four weeks off, this policy has helped my wife recover and allowed me to spend more time with our family at home. I plan on taking the remainder of the leave over the summer holidays and again when my wife would like to re-enter the workforce as a Software Developer.

The culture and support at Telstra has made me proud to work here.

Wayan Hadi – Multi-Domain Sales Specialist, Melbourne

As most families with newborns will appreciate, finding a balance between being productive at work and enjoying meaningful time with your child can be very challenging. For me, it often meant rushing home for our nighttime routine which would see me spend perhaps 45-minutes per day with my son.

The recent Parental Leave policy change has allowed me to spend real, quality time with Emerson and enjoy some of those “first” moments I otherwise would’ve missed. It’s also given us the freedom to visit immediate family living overseas who haven’t yet been able to meet Emerson (something that would have been previously hard to navigate).

The memories we’re creating as a family unit are immeasurable and I’m so pleased that other families will have the opportunity to do the same.

Cameron Young – Product Marketing Senior Specialist, Melbourne

Working flexibly isn’t something you truly value until it becomes available to you.

As a new dad, I’ve taken full advantage of Telstra’s flexible working policy. I’m able to support my family with time at home; both planned and short-notice, without missing a beat or lowering my productivity. I’ve fully embraced the tools and structures that allow us to work flexibly, and I’m proud to be part of an organisation that has availed this style of working.

I feel supported in my role as a new parent and can manage my time appropriately; not just after hours or weekends. I feel confident that I have the tools and structures required to stay connected and productive. As an employee, the benefits aren’t exclusive to working from home. I can seamlessly co-locate with stakeholders both inter-floor, inter-office and even internationally. I can maintain productivity while on the move, in the car, at home, in an airport, with minimal disruption. I’m able to take full advantage of all the hours in the day.

Robert Milanovic – Technical Solutions Support Tester, Townsville

I’m about to take the first set of parental leave (out of four) to be with my son Hamish. He’s our firstborn and now five months old so he’s at the stage where it seems like he’s developing new skills and personality in front of my eyes – just being around him brings me such joy. 

He already has an action-packed schedule with swimming lessons, group rhythm time and hangouts with his new baby friends and their parents. Being part of that journey is so amazing and the new parental leave policy update will help me be there.

Here’s an older photo of us (he’s 3ish months here) but it’s probably my favourite.

Adam Flegg – Product Specialist, Melbourne

Adam Flegg – Product Specialist, Melbourne

All Roles Flex has meant a lot to my family. I am married with two boys aged 10 and 7. My 10-year-old Jack has Autism Spectrum Disorder and my wife works in retail, meaning her hours change constantly.

Having the ability to work from home allows me to take my boys to and from school, removing the need for before or after school care – something Jack struggles with immensely.

It also allows me to be there for exciting things at school, like swimming!