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Tag: sustainability

Why I’m stepping up again for Steptember

Sustainability

Posted on September 17, 2019

3 min read

We’re at the midway point of Steptember – Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s (CPA) fundraiser to challenge people to move 10,000 steps each day this month.

To date, more than $6M has been raised globally from steppers around the world to support people living with cerebral palsy.

As a parent of two children with a disability, I’m excited by the potential of technology to drive inclusion and reduce barriers for people with disability. When I’m stepping, that’s what I’m thinking about and I encourage people to join the Steptember effort or donate to a team that has stepped up this year.

Just reflecting on my Steptember this year, I like the idea that when I take stairs instead of a lift or encourage my friends and family to part with their reddies to sponsor me, that this all rolls up to something much bigger than a charity fundraiser.

For Telstra people involved in Steptember, we’re stepping up because our fundraising supports CPA’s Remarkable, Australia’s first accelerator for early-stage start-ups creating tech that improves life for people with disability. 

Last year we raised more than $200K, and while we topped the Steptember fundraiser tally board the real headline was that six new innovative tech enterprises were supported to make a difference. Through Steptember we helped:

  • Sameview to build a trusted online platform for easier, and better disability care coordination
  • Spokle to launch its speech therapy app to provide practical, family-centred communication strategies to support children with communication disorders
  • Bookbot to empower those with learning disabilities to become confident, independent learners through a reading assistant app
  • jobmatcher to use predictive artificial intelligence to match the most relevant positions for each job seeker, particularly tackling the low employment rates for people with disability
  • NomadVR to bring highly stimulating virtual reality experiences to empower anyone without the means to go outside with the ability to do so much more
  • PolySpine to develop a customised, modular torso and head support system that enables people with physical disability to participate in various recreational and rehabilitation activities

Here are just a few ways that you can meet your Steptember goals by the end of the month and step it up:

  1. Walk away from your desk for lunch and get some fresh air. It will not only get your steps up but help you to refocus for the afternoon.
  2. Get off the train/bus/tram a stop early to get some extra steps in.
  3. Park your car further away from your destination to not only increase your chances of finding a car park but increase your step count.
  4. Say no the elevator and embrace the stairs.
  5. Spring has sprung so spend some time outside getting your garden ready. You’d be surprised how many steps you’ll do mowing, weeding and planting.
  6. Take your meeting to go: walking and talking will allow you to have a doubly productive meeting.
  7. Retail therapy: get those steps up and treat yourself to a shopping trip.
  8. Get social and active: walk with someone as a social activity catch up or walk over to a work colleague to talk instead of emailing them.
  9. Set an hourly alarm to remind yourself to take a stroll.
  10. Keep it fun – walk the dogs, kids, partners, and get everyone outdoors to play.  

You can #makeeverystepcount: https://www.steptember.org.au/

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.

How regional teens are embracing technology for change at Telstra Vantage 2019

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on September 16, 2019

4 min read

At Telstra Vantage 2019, we invited high school students from regional Australia to take the stage and present their tech solutions to the real-world problems facing their communities.

Bringing together leaders from the technology industry, ‘Tomorrow’s leaders embracing technology for change’ at Telstra Vantage 2019 was designed to help attendees draw inspiration from young minds.

In collaboration with Telstra Foundation partner Young Change Agents, high school students showcased innovative ideas and helped Telstra Enterprise partners gain a fresh perspective on technology.

Young Change Agents is a design-thinking based social entrepreneurship program for 10 to 18-year-olds that provides students with the tools to think creatively, build skills in critical thinking and communication, and empowers them to become entrepreneurs, leaders and world-changers.

Over three days, the four teams of students completed a design thinking process with Young Change Agents to identify real-world issues facing their community. They ideated potential solutions, developed a business model, and then validated, prototyped and pitched their ideas to our panel of judges – Mike Ebeid, Telstra Enterprise Group Executive, Jackie Coates, Head of Telstra Foundation, Kate Stewart, Telstra Head of Education Partnerships, and Sally Capp, Lord Mayor of Melbourne.

The students pitched some inspiring innovation ideas:

Farm Watch: health tracking data for farm animals

Narromine High School, Narromine (West of Dubbo)

This team’s idea comes from using existing tracking systems (wearable tech bands for livestock) to an app that extracts research from data sets collected from the tracking systems. The data collected can be sold or donated to science or research and help educate schools and the public.

Mike Ebeid said, “This idea certainly speaks to everything that we do here at Telstra. Keeping a track of livestock is really important for farmers and helping to solve that is great because most farmers I know care a lot about their animals. It will also help people to see and appreciate the work of farmers. It’s a really good idea.”

Link Lamp: connecting people through light to relieve loneliness

Keira High School, Wollongong

How might we make people who are lonely feel more connected to others? This team came up with smart connected lamps that are paired so when one person touches their lamp, it sends a signal to the other one resulting in light appearing. This shows that the other person is thinking of them and they are not alone.

Sally Capp said, “This idea pulled at my heartstrings.  I’ve got a son in the United States at the moment and I think if I had this lamp (and I would love one), I would’ve been pushing that button every moment of today so that he knows I’m thinking of him.

There’s no doubt that even though we are more connected than ever, the mental health surveys tell us…that people are suffering from social isolation more than ever before. It’s just little ideas like this that can make such a big difference and a big impact.”

Travel on the Gravel: VR learning experiences for long bus rides to school

Trangie High School, Trangie (West of Dubbo)

Bus companies find that students get up to mischief on long bus rides. Students find bus travel boring and parents want their kids to productively use their time on long bus rides. If local buses have virtual reality headsets, bus trips could educate and entertain youth and allow the students to virtually experience situations they wouldn’t normally be exposed to.

Jackie Coates said, “No one knows the tyranny of distance more than a regional student who travels hours a day to and from school on the same long and winding road. 

I love how this idea uses virtual reality to solve a real problem and the students did some excellent work scoping their business plan and hustling a local bus company to run their prototype.”

Happy Patch Packs: veggie garden packs using sensors connected to an app

Trangie High School, Trangie (West of Dubbo)

How might we help local families grow fresh produce without using too much available water resources? This team wants to create a self-watering/data measuring fresh fruit and vegetable garden growing kit helping people in remote or drought-affected communities to gain access to fresh food.

Kate Stewart, “Hearing from the students how tough it is in regional communities when it comes to accessing fresh veggies and water and the costs for families, I think this idea is fantastic. I love how the team has incorporated a tech solution in what is a very sustainable and clever idea and how you’ve solved a local community challenge.”  

Thanks to the Young Change Agents team and the amazing high school students involved who helped us to deliver a great event at Telstra Vantage 2019.

Becoming a more sustainable business every single day

Sustainability Report Sustainability

Posted on August 30, 2019

3 min read

As we transform our business through our T22 strategy, we have not lost sight of the bigger picture – or our responsibility for managing our environmental and social impacts.

Through our Sustainability strategy, we continually look for opportunities to make a difference through responsible business, digital inclusion and environmental solutions. We seek to help our customers and society adapt to technological change and the opportunities it brings.

Our annual sustainability assessment showed us which topics matter more than ever, and that the breadth of issues which our customers, partners and stakeholders expect us to address has never been greater.

Our Bigger Picture report provides a detailed overview of the work we’ve undertaken in the past, and that we commit to undertake in the years ahead across our business, to better enable everyone to thrive in a digital world.

Responsible business

This past year, Australia’s public, consumers and shareholders alike, have publicly reminded large companies of the value they place on being transparent, ethical and accountable. We know how important investing in the sustainable future of our organisation is, not just for the health of our business but for our people as well.

At Telstra, we are committed to our values and behaviours, particularly in this time of significant organisational and societal change. We take seriously our duty to operate our business responsibly and strive to maintain a strong values-based culture. Highlights in FY19 include:

  • Investing over $30 million in employee learning and development
  • Achieving a six-point increase in our Episode Net Promoter Score
  • Mandatory compliance training completed by 98.3% of employees

Digital futures

As digital technologies play an increasingly central role in our lives, there remains a significant gap between those who are connected and those who are not.

In FY19 we focused on consolidating the gains made over recent years to increase digital inclusion and ensure our new suite of products and services enhances this.  Highlights include:

Environmental solutions

We are committed to managing our environmental impacts and helping our customers and communities to do the same. We accept our responsibility to help facilitate low-carbon growth, to minimise our emissions, and to improve community resilience to a changing climate. Highlights in FY18 include:

  • Investing $4.7 million in improving the energy efficiency of our facilities
  • Reducing our carbon emissions intensity (tCO2e/petabyte) by 40% from our FY17 baseline
  • Collecting 2,986 tonnes of e-waste, with a recycling rate of 99.97%

We’re proud of our progress, but we don’t intend to rest on our laurels. We’re committed to being a responsible business by connecting others while strengthening our own sustainability at the same time. I hope you find this year’s report helpful and instructive, and welcome your feedback on our approach and performance.

Bringing stories from the outback to online

Telstra News Entertainment

Posted on August 22, 2019

3 min read

A new podcast from RMIT University is shining a light on how mobile technology and the internet are used in Aboriginal communities and towns by members of the world’s oldest living culture.

As part of our 2018-21 Reconciliation Action Plan commitments to support digital inclusion for remote Indigenous Australians, we funded the Disconnect series with RMIT to tell the story of how the internet is used in Aboriginal communities across the country.

Connectivity is something we take for granted as a central part of modern life, whether it’s in a metropolitan area or a remote community. The way that connectivity is used, though, varies with the cultural and geographic context of its users, and their priorities change as they experience it and over time.

Disconnect is written and hosted by RMIT University’s Ellie Rennie, co-hosted with Tyson Yunkaporta from Deakin University. Available on IndigiTUBE, YouTube, Spotify, iTunes and other podcasting apps, each episode examines a unique aspect of internet use and its impact – good and bad, in Aboriginal communities.

Disconnect co-hosts Ellie Rennie and Tyson Yunkaporta in the studio. Credit: RMIT University.

According to Rennie, “the pace of life changes with internet access, and people need to manage the negative things that come with it, such as internet scams.”

“It’s not so much about how the internet is changing communities, but how communities are changing the internet by placing their own rules and order on it.”

For starters, Yunkaporta explains, the assumption that mobile phones are a personal device does not always apply in Aboriginal communities.

“What does it mean to have a ‘personal’ device in a society built on communal obligations and sharing on demand?” he says.

“Everything is shared in these communities and to go against that by insisting a mobile device is only for your use can be a significant challenge.”

The topics covered in the Disconnect series were all contributed by the communities themselves, and interviews were collected with PY Media in the APY Lands and ARDS in Arnhem Land, as well as with inDigiMOB – the digital mentors program run by First Nations Media Australia and funded by Telstra.

Michael from inDigiMOB interviews Trevor and Jasper on Groote Eylandt for the Disconnect podcast. Credit: Ben Ward.

One topic of particular interest throughout the series is the challenge of providing connectivity to geographically remote and disparate communities, including an invention from the Centre for Appropriate Technology to passively boost mobile phone reception in areas where no powered solution is available or appropriate.

Yunkaporta says that the internet and technology can be a boon to protecting and growing Indigenous culture, amplifying social groups and maintaining close community connections using social media.

“Traditionally our cultures have a dense sociality to them. This is not something that is necessarily negatively affected by technology, it’s actually seen in most quarters as something that enables dense sociality, especially over distance.”

“Despite the transience in our communities, people are able to maintain social groups and communities via social media that would have been impeded by distance before.”

Amethea interviews Michael on Groote Eylandt, in Australia’s Top End, for the Disconnect podcast. Credit: Ben Ward.