Search Results

Share Article:

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Mail

Tag: education

Transforming the life of sheds – and the local community

Technology For Kids

Posted on May 30, 2019

5 min read

In North West Tasmania, a unique music event held in farm sheds is enabling young disadvantaged teens to learn life skills along with new digital abilities.

There is something quite extraordinary happening in North West Tasmania. A music festival held in farm sheds is equipping young people with confidence, capability and digital tech know-how. In March this year, 35 young women aged 14-16 from Big hART’s Project O initiative, helped produce Acoustic Life of Sheds, which saw over 1200 people enjoy musical performances in farm sheds along the stunning North West Tasmania coast.

The event ran for four days as part of the Ten Days on the Island festival, with 51 performances at five sheds. For these young people, who come from a community which struggles with literacy, employment, family violence, poverty, isolation and school retention, the event built not only a renewed sense of community but also developed self-confidence, agency, leadership and digital skills.

At Acoustic Life of Sheds, young people were acknowledged and welcomed by the community, made friends with farm owners, spoke to the media, joined in with the crew and cast and were an integral part of the event. They were no longer invisible or on the outer – they were strong, capable and inspiring; they had a voice and we heard their story.

At the Potato Shed, we stood transfixed as young women performed percussion with professional vibraphone artist Maggie Abraham, and listened to a spellbinding audio experience where young people talk about their favourite local place and what it meant to them. At another shed we saw teenagers assisting with digital filmmaking, photographing, sound engineering, stage management and creating posts and video content for social media.

Local entrepreneur and former policewoman Andy Jackman has mentored the young women of Project O through her family business Red Cow Organics, which specialises in organic artisan cheese created with sustainable farming practices.  “I grew up in a really stable household”, she said. “Mum and Dad were there, my siblings were there. Normal life was family life. A lot of the girls we’ve worked with, that’s not normal for them.”

Young people from the program assisted Andy at her food stall at one of the sheds, learning catering and hospitality skills. “The progress that a lot of these girls have made, it’s amazing”, said Andy. “You can see the transformation from when they first start the program to when they graduate in Year 10. I can see the power in that and I love it.”

In the weeks leading up, Project O participants from Wynyard and Smithton learnt digital podcasting, audio craft and storytelling skills with Helene Thomas, of mobile recording studio The Wayfinder, creating immersive audio stories that audiences listened to at Acoustic Life of Sheds.

“As someone who was born and raised on the North West Coast of Tasmania it was such an honour and privilege to be invited to mentor young women in the art of audio storytelling. These Year 9 and 10 girls have profoundly strong voices with powerful messages”, Helene told us.

One young woman Helene worked with was 15-year-old Trinity from Wynyard. “Trinity took me to her special place, spoke about why she liked to go there and how it made her feel. She captured sounds of the water and birdlife so beautifully. It’s heartening to know organisations such as Big hART are committed to engaging with young rural women to help build personal agency, skills and employment pathways.”

You can listen to Trinity’s story here.

Over at cattle property Gumhill, where a woodworking shed has been turned into a performance venue, farm owner Devon Cruickshank also talked about the community that Acoustic Life of Sheds has created. The young women linger between shows in her kitchen, lapping up her homemade cakes and sharing recipes. Unofficially, Devon has also become a mentor and friend of the young women, someone who will look out for them in the community. “It brings the community together. The experience for the girls is lovely, to see how warm everyone can be and support them”.

Northwest Tasmania is an area marked by lower levels of digital inclusion, according to the Australian Digital Inclusion Index. Arming these young women with digital skills is important to foster capability and confidence in an increasingly digital world. But it is more than that, as digital inclusion specialist Robert Morsillo from Telstra says. “Digital inclusion is vital to social inclusion. To have a sense of connectedness is to have a sense of community and hope.”

A few weeks later, nine Project O young women took Acoustic Life of Sheds on the road to the Huon Valley in southern Tasmania, as part of a special community recovery weekend after the intense bushfires that affected the area. The young women took over the Project O Facebook page, posting pics and stories during the weekend. Shania says, “We have had an amazing experience with the whole project and we are so proud of ourselves.”

Project O is an initiative of Big hART and proudly supported by Telstra. For more information visit www.bighart.org

Building the skills Australia needs for the future

Telstra News T22

Posted on January 31, 2019

4 min read

We’re working to partner with the tertiary sector to address skills shortages in areas that Telstra – and Australia – needs for the future.

Discussion on the future of work often turns negative with concern that robots and automation will take away most jobs. While this shouldn’t be downplayed as technology will adversely impact some types of jobs, the scale of technological change is also bringing with it huge demand for skilled jobs in areas such as software and network engineering, cyber security and data analytics. Demand in Australia is far outweighing the number of people available with these skills – and the number of graduates is simply not enough to stem the growing skills gap.

To put this into perspective, Australia produced around 1,200 new software engineers in the last 12 months, compared to 44,000 in India.

When we look at the deep domain technical skills that we need now – and into the future – there are not enough people with these skills available in Australia.

But this is not only a challenge for Telstra. Competitive advantage is becoming increasingly tied to an organisation’s – and a country’s – technical capabilities. So developing a skilled workforce is critical to our future economic success.

So what’s the solution?

A multifaceted approach is needed to develop the right core skills to set up Australia with a population ready and able to work productively in the innovative workplaces of the future. A major component of this involves collective and progressive action between business, government and the education sector to shape how we build these skills.

As a major employer in Australia, we want to play a role in making this happen.

As part of our T22 strategy we are retraining our people in areas our business needs. For example, we recently trained some of our existing store team members as small business specialists so that we have more people dedicated to supporting this customer segment. We are also training some people to be Agile Coaches to help our teams adapt to our new work practices.

Beyond this, we have contributed to developing the next-generation of workers over a number of years. For example, we have long-running Graduate, Summer Vacation and Traineeship programs to develop early business and technology talent, and we’ve also been involved in the Australian Government’s P-TECH program for high school students. Parts of our business have also taken a leading role in developing specific technology skills, such as sponsoring the Australian Government’s Cyber Security Challenge Australia hacking competition which provides a practical application of the skills students learn in university and TAFE.

But we’re now stepping up this activity by taking a more holistic approach as an organisation and will be establishing formal partnerships with additional tertiary providers to develop the critical skills we need.

Building strong partnerships with tertiary providers

We recently started to partner with the University of Wollongong on their Global Leaders Development Program and have taken our first of their Big Data students as an intern (one of 80 students from around Australia who have been working with us over the summer).

We intend to expand this approach in the months ahead to include additional tertiary institutions with a focus on critical skills like software-defined networking and machine learning.

Adapting our Graduate program to develop the right technology skills

These partnerships will be supported by a new-look Graduate program for our next cohort starting in 2020. This group will go through a 12-month program that will include two in-depth rotations and three learning and experience accelerators to develop specific technology-based capability.

Graduates will be recruited in areas such as software and network engineering, information and cyber security, data analytics and management, product and service design, as well as finance and Human Resources.

In line with demand, we will increase our intake in Australia to around 190 for our 2020 program – up from 150 this year. Applications will open in March for Australian-based positions.

We will continue to access talent and skills where we need to, particularly in areas where there are skills shortages. This means we’ll expand our international Graduate program, which has run in our Hong Kong and Singapore hubs over the past few years, to include software engineering graduates in India who will be based at our new Innovation and Capability Centre in Bangalore.

This is just part of what we’re doing to develop future technology talent. We are committed to ongoing partnerships – with the government, the education sector and other corporates – to address the critical skills shortages in this country and set up Australia for future success.

 

Tags: AI, careers, education, IoT,

Connecting a high-speed future for South Australian students

Business and Enterprise

Posted on December 13, 2018

2 min read

As part of a landmark partnership between Telstra and the South Australian government, we will connect almost every government school in the state to a high-speed fibre optic network, delivering speeds up to a thousand times faster than before.

The massive undertaking will see 514 government schools across the state of South Australia connected to a high-speed fibre optic network capable of speeds of 1Gbps and beyond, improving some schools’ internet access speeds by up to a thousand times.

The agreement will also enable thousands of kilometres of fibre optic cables to be leveraged throughout the state – running past the front doors of small businesses, hospitals, independent schools and other public sector agencies, making high-speed internet connection a viable reality for almost every town across South Australia.

“Fast, reliable internet connectivity is critical in the modern world, and our students will now benefit from this landmark network expansion that will help deliver a world class education system,” said South Australia’s Premier Steven Marshall.

“The expanded fibre optic network will not only provide high speed internet to our public schools, it also puts a fibre optic connection within reach of thousands of small businesses, public agencies and independent schools.”

We’re proud to be working with the South Australian government to deliver the new network for students and teachers across the state, allowing educators more seamless access to curriculum resources and professional development and helping students experience new ways of learning.

We are excited to help level the technological playing field for public school students in regional and remote locations as well as open the doors for new digital education methods. It will now be possible for almost every public school student across the state to have access to educational collaboration tools as well as emerging virtual and augmented reality solutions.

Demand for connectivity is growing exponentially in Australia and around the world, which makes fast and equitable internet access crucial not only for the students of South Australia, but for the future competitiveness of the state.

We expect this network expansion will be completed over the next 18 months, with 98.8% of SA schools connected to fibre by the middle of 2020. We’re also working with the SA Department for Education to provide alternative fast internet solutions to schools that are too remote to connect to the expanded fibre network.

Building cyber-safe communities through libraries

Telstra Foundation

Posted on March 5, 2018

3 min read

A library is a community institution, a place almost all of us would have visited at some time in our lives. Increasingly, these vibrant knowledge centres are playing a key role to bridge the digital divide, by connecting communities to the online world. Over the past six years, this transition has been supported through eSmart Libraries, a unique and ambitious partnership between the Telstra Foundation and the Alannah & Madeline Foundation.

The partnership is an acknowledgement of the key role libraries play to bridge the digital divide, by connecting young people and communities to the online world safely, smartly and responsibly. As well as promoting safe behaviour online, it improves digital literacy and teaches skills around social media and digital copyright.

The eSmart framework was designed to equip staff and visitors with the skills they need for smart, safe and responsible use of digital technology. The Telstra Foundation has committed $8 million to the project and aims to improve online safety through the 1500 public libraries in Australia.

Seventy percent of libraries are now participating in the program, which was developed from a holistic and evidence-based approach, to look at how the library and community can develop smart, safe and responsible digital behaviours.

Jenny Musty is a librarian at a rural eSmart Library and says the program has enabled staff to offer help and advice to parents whose children are victims of cyberbullying.

“Recently we had an incident where we knew a child was communicating with someone they shouldn’t have been via computer. They were skipping school and our staff felt confident in dealing with that situation by contacting the school, making sure they were aware of what was happening and following up on that and making sure the child was safe.

“That was a really good outcome and I believe that child had a better outcome because of us picking up that situation and being more aware and confident,” Ms. Musty said.

A recent evaluation shows it to be one of the most highly-rated programs ever undertaken in Australian libraries, with 100 percent of surveyed library managers recommending the program. 93 percent of library staff reported improved knowledge on how to assist community members to stay safe online.

“eSmart has helped to reinforce the library staff role, it is about technology and supporting people and making sure everyone is comfortable.

“I think libraries have played a key role in assisting people to use technology, right through from when email was first thought of – and we’re in an excellent position to provide education and support in all facets, including all the downsides and the pitfalls of technology,” Ms. Musty said.

In the 21st century, it is clear that librarians’ roles are evolving, from not just assisting individual customers but to tackling wider societal problems. The success of eSmart Libraries comes down librarians having the skills and the technology available to them to solve problems.

This year, Safer Internet Day is all about R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Telstra Foundation

Posted on February 6, 2018

1 min read

Happy Safer Internet Day! This is a day where hundreds of organisations, including Telstra, from 130 countries band together to help raise awareness about how we can make the online world a safer place. That’s a lot of people power.

This year’s theme is about showing respect for others online, and we thought we’d get up close and personal – because when it comes down to it, online respect starts with all of us.

Safer Internet Day is a great reminder to reflect on our own online behaviours – when we email, text, post on our social feeds, like, upload and download. We’ve pulled together five questions – with no judgement, but just a little bit of self-reflection. How many can you say yes to?