Go Digi and the National Year of Digital Inclusion in Perth

When astronaut John Glenn passed over Perth in 1962, the population turned on the lights of buildings and streets, leading to the city becoming known as the ‘City of Light’.

Fast forward to Perth 2016, where last week digital inclusion was in the spotlight, with 19 events taking place in Perth as part of the National Year of Digital Inclusion, from Mandurah in the south through to Joondalup in the north.

The conversation begins

The festival opened with a conversation forum held at the State Library of Western Australia, exploring the impact of digital literacy on the wellbeing of communities.

Go Digi Champion Senator Scott Ludlam discussed the importance of digital inclusion, recalling that as a child he had the opportunity to grow up with a Commodore 64. Senator Ludlam said that with technology changing so rapidly today, not having access to technology and the skills to use it effectively can be a major factor in exclusion. 

Renowned games designer Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie highlighted the need for diversity amongst those creating new technology, using the computer games industry as an example. She pointed out that although 50% of people playing games are women, only 15% of people making games are female. 

‘Tech Girl Superhero’, ‘Microsoftie’ and storyteller Michelle Sandford described how living in a world with amazing technology has the potential to create an inclusive world, but that we need people who can act as Mentors to help others embrace the digital world.

Other speakers included Ingrid Cummings on the Noongarpedia wiki project and Lainey Weiser on high school program Just Start IT. They both inspired the audience with practical examples of how they are supporting individuals and communities to use technology as a way of contributing their own knowledge and ideas. 

Librarian Rebecca Ong from the State Library of Western Australia also described how libraries are at the coalface of ensuring everyone is able to use technology.

We would like to thank all our speakers for an inspiring day of talks and panels! We would also like to thank our supporters Tiidal, FTI and the State Library of Western Australia.

Let the Pop Up Festival begin

After the forum, we turned our focus from inspiring conversations to inspiring the community to learn digital skills through our Go Digi Pop Up Festival.

Many local Go Digi network partners participated in the festival by holding pop up learning events, including the Beaufort Community Centre, the City of Fremantle, City of Joondalup, City of Mandurah, City of Nedlands, the eFriends Project and COTA WA.

The eFriends Project and COTA WA partnered up to hold a pop up event at the Warehouse Café, a social enterprise of Uniting Care. The event was called ‘Tech and Tea’ and consisted of volunteers mentoring a large number of very enthusiastic older adults to help grow their online confidence.

Areas people wanted help with included how to use FaceTime and Skype to speak to family and friends, and how to set up email accounts. One couple who run a small business were given help in how to use Excel to track their budgets.

A ‘Getting started with Etsy’ workshop proved popular at the Fremantle Library despite a very blustery day. A new online learning guide has been created on Etsy as well. One attendee, Colleen, a local artist, found the workshop comprehensive with lots of great information shared not only on how to set up an Etsy shop, but how to promote it online.

Beaufort Community Centre held ‘Appy Hour’ demonstrating the use of health and wellbeing apps. This volunteer-run centre had not run anything like this before, but after the success of their event they are keen to continue holding similar events to help their community.  

Thanks to all of the Go Digi Network Partners for making the Perth Pop Up Festival so successful in inspiring people to learn digital skills. Go Digi is all about taking learning out of the classroom and into the community – and we can only do that at scale with the help of our partners.

Language no barrier to learning technology

As well as the Network Partners holding pop up events, the Go Digi team also held their own events, including a Go Digi Mentors workshop, a free screening of the Cyber-Seniors documentary and a Minecraft workshop aimed at parents.

One of the highlights of the Go Digi Mentors workshop was having a group of students with English as a second language from Centacare Employment & Training participate in the training.

We had many potential Go Digi Mentors take part in the workshop, discovering that one student was already helping his classmates to use Microsoft Word and digital cameras. Another person shared a ‘digiconfession’ with us about a time she had sent a message to someone which didn’t exactly say what she thought it would because of autocorrect!

We had participants who weren’t as confident with technology and were keen to learn more, especially in order to improve their employment opportunities and help them feel more connected to family members living far away.

In the practical component of the workshop, participants wrote down how they were going to help others, or what they were keen to learn themselves. It was encouraging to see that we had a number of people say that they wanted to improve their own skills in order to share these valuable skills with others.

The workshop really demonstrated that you don’t need to be a technology expert to be a Go Digi Mentor. With technology changing so rapidly, we are all learning as we go and it can be much easier to learn together than alone.

Continuing the conversation

The Go Digi team is now starting to plan our Darwin, Sydney and Canberra events for the National Year of Digital Inclusion. If you are part of an organisation in these locations who would like to come on board as a Go Digi Network Partner and hold a pop up event, we would love to hear from you. Email us at [email protected].

We are also putting the finishing touches to the draft Digital Inclusion Manifesto and in July will be asking for your feedback. Look out for more information on our blog soon!