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National Digital Inclusion Summit


Thursday, 17th February 2011 at 2:02 pm
Staff Reporter
The Australian Not for Profit sector is being urged to take part in a national summit later this year on Digital Inclusion following the recommendations of a Connecting Communities report on the implications of broadband for Australia.


Thursday, 17th February 2011
at 2:02 pm
Staff Reporter


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National Digital Inclusion Summit
Thursday, 17th February 2011 at 2:02 pm

The Australian Not for Profit sector is being urged to take part in a national summit later this year on Digital Inclusion following the recommendations of a Connecting Communities report on the implications of broadband for Australia.

Dr Tim Williams says the challenge for Australia is to ensure nobody is left behind in the rollout of the National Broadband Network.

And the author of the report says unless the Sector gets involved there is a danger that millions of Australians will be excluded from the new digital economy.

Dr Tim Williams, a former adviser to the UK Government, says the challenge for Australia is that as the National Broadband Network is rolled out, and in the words of the UK Conservative Government, “nobody is left behind.”

Dr Williams says the new digital era is too important to be left to geeks, sales people and governments.

In Australia, he says while people are trying to physically build the Network, the citizenship issues can be easily diverted by discussions about putting pipes in the ground.

He says the Not for Profit sector has an important role to play as champions of a ‘network society’ not just a network and he is hoping that they will be re-enthused by the broadband agenda.

International telecommunications equipment provider Huawei, who commissioned the White Paper and Community Sector Banking in Australia will partner to host a National Digital Inclusion Summit with the aim of increasing private sector and community engagement on the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The two organisations formed the partnership as a result of one of Dr Williams’ key recommendations of the Connecting Communities White Paper : The impact of broadband on communities in the UK and its implications for Australia – calling for national and state summits of Third Sector organisations to share best-practice and agree on plans of action for digital inclusion.

The Report also recommends a volunteer program to assist the elderly to engage online.

Huawei and Community Sector Banking says they will host the a National Summit to gather examples of best-practices where private sector and community organisations have used broadband to promote digital inclusion.

Huawei says the Summit aims to increase digital engagement for rural and remote communities, the elderly, indigenous communities, migrant communities, and many others who would benefit from increased inclusion in the digital economy.

Huawei Government and Public Affairs Director Jeremy Mitchell says Connecting Communities has drawn on the experience of the UK’s broadband rollout and listed key recommendations for Australia.

He says by taking the first step in partnering with Community Sector Banking, he is hopeful that other community and private sector organisations will join in a move to promote digital inclusion.

Dr Tim Williams White Paper recommendations include:

  • ?Establish a formal national survey into current patterns of broadband use by individuals and diverse communities
  • ?Appointment of a national Digital Champion by government – a distinguished lay enthusiast drawn from outside politics and the industry to help galvanise enthusiasm
  • A network of local and sector digital champions
  • Set a target for all to be digitally literate by 2020 and establish the duty to draw up a digital participation plan by all public service providers 
  • Legislate so that the regulator ACMA (the Australian Communications and Media Authority) has a duty to promote digital inclusion 
  • All public agencies to review how new broadband capacity can transform the design and delivery of services and the process of engagement ? 
  • National and state summits of third sector organisations to share best-practice and agree on plans of action for digital inclusion
  • A national annual digital participation week with national awards online concession passes for over 65s establish a national helpline to support those that are having difficulty accessing the Internet
  • ?Facilitate a volunteering program so that young people and other volunteers can “buddy-up” with the elderly online 
  • Government to commit to open source principles and sharing data

Huawei is an international telecommunications equipment provider employing 300 staff in Australia and is owned entirely by its employees. Community Sector Banking (CSB) is a joint venture between Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, along with Community 21 which is owned by 20 Not for Profit organisations including Jobs Australia, Oxfam Australia, Scope and Brotherhood of St Laurence.

The Summit is expected to take place in Canberra early in the second half of 2011.

The White Paper can be downloaded at:
http://www.huawei.com.au/connectingcommunities/docs/Huawei_CC_WhitePaper.pdf



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