Helen Milner visits Brisbane


The following is a blog post by Michelle Hollywood from the Infoxchange’s Brisbane office:

Conversations about digital inclusion got a kick-start in Brisbane this week. We had a visit by Tinder Foundation CEO, Helen Milner. They believe ‘good things happen with digital technology’. They have helped an impressive 1.7 Million people in the United Kingdom to get online

Brendan Fitzgerald and Helen Milner in Queensland, November, 2015

Helen attended two key events. The first was a public lecture: ‘Digital Social Inclusion-Learnings from the UK’. The second, an announcement of the inaugural ten Advance Queensland Digital Champions.

Helen began her lecture by sharing the story of Roger, who had been homeless for ten years. Whilst at a shelter, another client helped Roger get online, a life-changing event. Roger grew in confidence; he wanted to know more and do more online. He became a peer teaching other residents which then led to paid employment at the Shelter. He now leads a team of five people teaching people digital skills at the same Shelter.

Helen says digital inclusion is another way of saying ‘Equality of opportunity that transforms lives'. People who are digitally excluded often have the lowest incomes and education levels in our community.

Digital is just another way that people experience exclusion. For example, many jobs can only be applied for online. Over 70% of UK employers will not employ a person without basic digital skills. Even if that job doesn't require using computers.

The benefits of having digital skills are enormous. It gives you access to government, health and community services. You can buy your groceries if you can’t get to the shop. Even start a small business and maintain your social and family connections.

Research shows that access to internet and educational attainment are barriers to digital inclusion. But the Tinder Foundation has also found that an internet connection is no guarantee of digital inclusion. Their research shows that despite a connection you may not have skills required to interact online.

The Foundation’s research also found that assumptions cannot be made about people’s digital ability. For example, you can’t assume that young people using the Internet know how to apply for a job online. They should be targets for digital training too.

The Tinder Foundation has found these strategies very effective:

 

  • Aim for 100% and leave nobody behind. Norway has 98% digital inclusion. Surely that is achievable?
  • Build a strong network of community and private sector partners who will help people get online. The Tinder Foundation has 5000 partners from community, government and private sectors. In Australia, Go Digi is also building strong grassroots support through its Go Digi Network Partner program
  • Find ways to bring resources to people in their communities. For example a community housing provider has fitted out a bus with computers to teach people digital skills.  Go Digi is holding Pop Up learning Festivals through-out Australia next year.
  • For some people unsure of how the Internet relates to them, finding their interests will be the hook to get them motivated to be online. Go Digi also has many learning guides to support people to follow their interests, whether gardening, craft or sport.
  • Peers are very effective in helping their friends, family learn digital skills.  Australians can become Go Digi Mentors and complete free training to help others.
     

Helen was also a guest speaker at the announcement of Advance Queensland Community Digital Champions. This program encourages Queenslanders to explore the benefits of the digital age. This is shown through the stories and activities of inspirational champions.

Queensland Government Minister Leann Enoch, announced ten amazing Queenslanders as Inaugural Champions. These Champions will undertake activities in their communities to help improve digital literacy. A full list of the champions can be found on the Queensland Government website.

Infoxchange, Australia Post were proud to have hosted Helen’s visit to Australia. Helen was also a guest of the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation whilst in Brisbane.