Australia’s Digital Future: The Critical Role of the NFP Sector
16 November 2011 at 1:25 pm
|Flickr image Some rights reserved by Steve Rhode|
Australia’s Not for Profit sector must play a critical role in building Australia’s ‘digital future’, by ensuring the wider population can share in the benefits of high-speed broadband, according to a new report.
The report A fair for all in the digital era: Towards a Digital Inclusion Roadmap, says Australia’s digital future is dependant on grassroots community organisations creating ‘a fair go for all’ online, by getting people to utilise online services.
The ‘Digital Inclusion Roadmap’ is based on discussions and feedback from the National Digital Inclusion Summit, held at Parliament House in August this year, and offers a list of recommendations for Australia’s Not for Profit sector to embrace the era of high-speed broadband.
The report – which offers a plan designed to ensure ‘no-one gets left behind as high-speed broadband is rolled out’ – recommends setting a target of getting all Australians online by 2020 – but it warns that providing access alone is not enough to make Australia a ‘digitally-inclusive’ nation.
Not for Profits cannot wait for the government to take the lead on digital inclusion, warned Jeremy Mitchell, Corporate Affairs Director at HUAWEI – the ICT company behind the digital inclusion summit and report.
“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”, said Mitchell.
The report recommends that governments at all levels in Australia work with relevant Not for Profit organisations in the shaping and development of digital inclusion programs.
The report also recommends that each NFP organisation should appoint its own ‘digital champion’ focused on the needs of its own client group – and identify the implications of high speed broadband for its own organisation and approach to delivery of services.
As well as having a large role in shaping the nation’s digital future, the Not for Profit sector has been told it has a great deal to gain in a digitally inclusive society were use and access of high speed broadband is widespread.
Peter Quamby, Executive Director of Community Sector Banking – one of the partner organisations behind the report – says the Not for Profit sector is central to the cultural, social and economic well being of Australia.
“Proactively embracing and shaping the digital future of the nation will greatly enhance the impact of the sector and reach the whole community” said Quamby.
The report was compiled by UK community regeneration expert Dr Tim Williams and brings together a wide variety of perspectives from NFPs, businesses and government emerging from the National Digital Inclusion Summit.
The key recommendations from the report 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 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.
- That the disposal of ICT equipment by the Commonwealth be diverted to digital inclusion programs.
That each NFP organisation should appoint its own digital champion focused on the needs of its own client group – and identify the implications of high speed broadband for its own organisation and approach to delivery of services.
Download the full report here[PDF].