Australia’s NBN future is dependent on grassroots creating ‘a fair go for all’ online, according to a new report. Released today, the report offers a plan to ensure that no-one gets left behind as high-speed broadband is rolled out – and warns that access alone is not enough to make Australia a ‘digitally-inclusive’ nation.
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“The challenge for Australia is clear: grassroots organisations cannot idly wait for government to take the lead on digital inclusion,” said Huawei Australia Corporate Affairs Director, Jeremy Mitchell.
“While Australians increasingly have access to high-speed broadband, access alone is not enough – the onus is on community groups to take action and get people to utilise online services.”
A fair go for all in the digital era: Towards a Digital Inclusion Roadmap, shows perspectives from not-for-profits, businesses and government emerging from the National Digital Inclusion Summit, held earlier this year, sponsored by Huawei, and the Australian Information Industry Association.
The Digital Inclusion summit attracted community organisations discussing steps the not-for-profit sector can take to reduce the exclusion felt by many disadvantaged people and strategies will be particularly important in the NBN world, where high speed fibre broadband will be available in every household.
Speakers at the summit include the Minister for Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy, and Shadow Minister Malcolm Turnbull, along with a range of attendees who contributed to the report’s findings.
“Government needs to ensure that targets for online participation can be achieved in an equitable way – everybody needs to be engaged in this process,” said AIIA CEO Suzanne Campbell.
“While the South Australian government is leading Australia with specific targets for use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT): by 2014, 40% of business activity is to be online, the very real challenge is to ensure the benefits of broadband reach everyone in the community.”
Key recommendations from A fair go for all in the digital era include:
· The establishment of a national digital action plan with targets to get all Australians online by 2020.
· A national digital inclusion and information campaign targeting key target groups who may face barriers to getting online, such as young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, older people, people with disabilities, from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds and living in rural and remote communities.
· Start a community campaign for organisations or individuals to give one hour to enabling a neighbour, colleague, friend or client to ‘get online’.
· That the Commonwealth, state and local governments work with relevant not-for-profit organisations in the shaping and development of digital inclusion programs.
· The appointment by the federal government of a National Digital Champion drawn from outside politics to help galvanise the campaign for digital participation, and the equivalent at state level.