Computerworld

Telstra provides $5m funding to help Indigenous communities connect digitally

Funding will be used to create Indigenous Digital Excellence Hub

The Telstra Foundation is providing $5 million in funding over five years to create an Indigenous Digital Excellence Hub as part of a partnership with the not-for-profit organisation National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE).

The hub will be located at NCIE’s Redfern premises in Sydney and is to help Indigenous communities connect digitally through online platforms, apps and events.

“The Telstra Foundation funding will create culturally appropriate opportunities for online communication, empowerment, learning, leadership and commerce,” Geoff Booth, chairman of Telstra Foundation, said in a statement.

“This partnership seeks to build both an online and offline environment that supports Indigenous people to take their next step – whether it’s enjoying the strength of online connections through purpose-built digital communities, learning digital literacy skills, running an online business or building leadership skills.”

NCIE’s CEO, Jason Glanville, said in a statement that the investment in improving Indigenous people’s social well-being by creating more opportunities for them to interact online and through digital platforms is a “crucial part of our shared prosperity as a nation”.

At the Indigenous Digital Excellence Agenda (IDEA) Summit in June, NCIE and the Telstra Foundation revealed five main initiatives they plan to develop with the funding in helping Indigenous communities thrive online.

The first initiative is having an online marketplace where Indigenous peoples around the world can share ideas, projects, events, skills and resources through an app, IDEA Global.

The second initiative, Kinship Indigenous Network, aims to reconnect Indigenous people to their families through the assistance of digital technology and partnering with organisations such as Link-Up, AIATSIS and the Healing Foundation.

NCIE and Telstra Foundation also plan to develop a search engine called Doris which would allow more access to Indigenous content online and would use filters and approval processes developed by Indigenous people to maintain quality and integrity of material.

To help improve digital literacy among Indigenous Australians, the team plans to develop a digital literacy program called Blaxess, which includes setting up a mobile device donation service.

The fifth initiative is called Blackfella Enterprises where Indigenous Australians can commercialise on traditional cultural knowledge to sell products online and gain economic independence. The initiative will ensure ownership is protected and benefits go directly to Indigenous communities.

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