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Breaking Down the 'Digital Divide'


27 November 2001 at 12:11 pm
Staff Reporter
Key representatives from Telstra, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and academia are taking steps towards reducing the “digital divide”...

Staff Reporter | 27 November 2001 at 12:11 pm


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Breaking Down the 'Digital Divide'
27 November 2001 at 12:11 pm

Key representatives from Telstra, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and academia are taking steps towards reducing the “digital divide” by meeting to discuss the problems and potential that new communication technologies offer to consumer organisations and their constituents.

The Telstra Consumer Consultative Council’s (TCCC) Annual Forum held in Sydney last week – organised by Telstra and supported by ACOSS and other Not for Profit organisations – focussed specifically on the areas of regional development, seniors online and women and networking, and was aimed at developing policy recommendations to sustain community networking initiatives.

The Forum was called ‘Electronic Communities – Problems and Potential’.

New ACOSS President, Andrew McCallum, told the Forum that it’s important for all Australians to be able to participate fully in the knowledge economy as the future of employment and social participation becomes more and more dependent on universal and affordable access to information technology.

McCallum says consumer groups, the Government and the providers of the technology need to work together to develop strategies to avoid the widening divide between those with access to the benefits of the information revolution and those denied that access because of location, education background or income.

He says the forum is an important first step in developing solutions to this growing problem.

Speaking at the forum, Telstra’s Co-chair of the TCCC, Darian Stirzaker, said that consumer groups could see real benefit in adopting new and emerging technologies to improve their communication with their constituents and at the same time participate in the ever widening conversations that e-mail, for example, enables.

The forum identified the key issues surrounding the use of new communications technology that will provide preliminary input into ACOSS’s policy discussion on the digital divide.

They included the need for:
– a national community networking alliance, given that many different sectors of the community including seniors, women, and people in regional areas face common challenges, including access to relevant online content, skills training and ongoing support;
– strong on-the-ground collaboration between government, business and community agencies to ensure the successful sustainability of community networking initiatives, particularly community education initiatives utilising video-conferencing; and,
– better national data collection on the take-up of information technologies, both by community organisations and end users.

Footnote:

For NSW Not for Profits the NSW Community Technology Centre is holding its inaugural annual conference at the Sydney Showground at Homebush on December 3rd and 4th.

Called ‘Networking Communities Through Partnerships’ the conference has two major themes; communities and technologies.

Day One will focus on specific communities and how IT can facilitate community development and Day Two will focus on emerging technologies and their application in regional areas.

For an urgent registration form and information please send us an e-mail to probono@probonoaustralia.com.au.



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