Bridging the digital divide
Date: Thursday, 27 July 2023
Location: Delivered online
A digital transformation is in full swing. Worldwide, governments and businesses are transitioning services online. This benefits most Australians by increasing productivity and access to services. However, the rapid transition to technology risks entrenching disadvantages in some communities.
In Australia, the number of people who are digitally excluded has been falling over time (ADII, 2021). Despite this, there are parts of our community that are more likely to be digitally excluded: multicultural communities, people with a disability, First Nations’ people, regional and remote communities and people with lower social and economic opportunity. For people in these communities, this impacts educational opportunities, health outcomes and social connectedness.
As we plan for smart places, we need to address the gap in access, affordability and ability.
This SmartNSW Masterclass explores:
- what factors cause a digital divide
- the experiences within digitally disadvantaged communities
- the impacts of digital exclusion on health, education and economic opportunity
- interventions to bridge the divide.
Attendees leave with a greater appreciation of the role they play in creating smart places that are inclusive, cohesive and provide opportunities for everyone to participate.
Browse the masterclass agenda, and re-watch the sessions below by clicking on the session heading. Or rewatch the sessions on our YouTube Playlist.
9.00am - Welcome and keynote
Rory Brown, Executive Director, Smart Places
Keynote: The Hon Jihad Dib
Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government
9.15am - Panel discussion: Examining the digital divide
This panel introduces the concept of digital equity and why action is needed to make sure no one is left behind as smart places are developed and services are digitised.
Facilitator: Emily Rucker
- Professor Anthony McCosker, Chief Investigator, ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision Making + Society Swinburne University of Technology
- Joseph La Posta, CEO Multicultural NSW
- Andy Johnston, Acting Group Manager, Social Policy Group, National Indigenous Australians Agency
10.20 am - Smart speed session: Responding to digital inequity
Speakers in this session had 5 minutes each to introduce the activity underway to address the digital divide in NSW. Following this, speakers came together for a panel discussion on ways to boost access to affordable connectivity options and build digitally capable communities.
Facilitator: Sandy Burgoyne
- Joanna Kubota, Executive Director, The Parks, Sydney’s Parkland Councils (PDF, 1.09 MB)
- John Chan, Associate Director, Connectivity Strategy NSW Telco Authority (PDF, 349.77 KB)
- Nattlie (Natt) Smith, Director Aboriginal Outcomes, Department of Customer Service (PDF, 455.72 KB)
- Claudine Gerber, A/ Group Product Director, Grants & Rebates, Digital Services, Service NSW (PDF, 555.77 KB).
Watch: Digital Equity and Inclusion
Explore more on this topic in the Smart Places Playbook – updated with new content.
The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) tracks and reports on digital inclusion in Australia across three dimensions: access, affordability and digital ability. This detailed measure of digital inclusion for Australia allows us to identify the critical barriers to inclusion. Find out more about how these dimensions vary across Local Government Areas, and across different social groups.
Focus: how is government responding to digital inequity?
Western Parkland Digital Equity and Inclusion Program
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted some of the impacts of digital disadvantage and showed why everyone needs to be able to participate in the digital ecosystem. This is particularly important as businesses and Government shift to digital service delivery.
The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) shows people in the rest of Sydney have better access to affordable internet than the communities in the Western Parkland City and better skills to use it.
Western Parkland City Digital Equity and Inclusion Insights Program will uncover the key reasons people can’t participate digitally in Western Sydney. Successful delivery of this Program will help the Western Parkland City to be a truly smart city and will create equitable opportunities for all members of the community.
Planning for New Communities (5G Trial)
The Western Sydney 5G Trial is one of four digital commitments in the Western Sydney City Deal. It will find new ways for mobile networks to work with councils and property developers. The project will provide mobile coverage to new areas, while homes are being built. Providing areas with network connections before people move in is cheaper and less disruptive than installing it after.
The trial will focus on growth areas in Western Sydney. It will look at ways mobile networks, developers and councils can work together.
NSW Telco Authority: NSW Connectivity Index
NSW Telco Authority has developed the NSW Connectivity Strategy to align and optimise state-wide programs and opportunities to ensure modern, high speed digital networks are available to all. The strategy is an important step forward to align with world's best practice, accelerate access to digital services, and close the digital divide between metropolitan, rural, and regional areas.
The strategy aims to deliver meaningful, world-class, affordable, and resilient connectivity for citizens, businesses, emergency services and government; one that is coordinated across government agencies and enables full participation in digital services and systems anywhere, anytime.
NSW Closing the Gap program
In March 2019, the Australian Government, the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, state and territory governments, and the Australian Local Government Association signed a formal Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.
The NSW Government is working in partnership with the NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (NSW CAPO) and other partners to achieve better outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is a new way of working for the NSW Government – an opportunity we welcome, to learn from our partners and transform the way we work together.
Jihad Dib is the Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Youth Justice and the Local Member for Bankstown. He is a former board member of the Australia Day Council of NSW, the NSW Police Commissioner’s Advisory Panel, and the SBS Community Advisory Committee, Jihad has campaigned tirelessly for inclusiveness and the celebration of diversity in our society, believing in the notion that “if you can see it, you can be it”. Prior to being elected to the NSW Parliament in 2015, Jihad was Principal of Punchbowl Boys’ High. Over a period of 9 years, he transformed the school by developing strong relationships with the community, local organisations and government agencies.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision Making + Society, Swinburne University of Technology | Hawthorn, Melbourne
Anthony McCosker is Professor of Media and Communication at Swinburne University, where he is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision Making + Society (ADM+S). His research addresses digital inclusion and inequality and the adoption of new technology, particularly in relation to healthcare and social services. He is an Investigator on the Australian Digital Inclusion Index team in partnership with Telstra and RMIT. And his latest co-authored books are Data for Social Good: Non-Profit Sector Data Projects (2023), Everyday Data Cultures (2022), Automating Vision (2021), and Negotiating Digital Citizenship (2016).
Joseph is driven to improve access and services for our newest Australians. He is also passionate about supporting established communities to preserve and nourish their cultures and language. At Multicultural NSW, Joseph has overseen the delivery of Strategic Plan 2021 – 2025 and the implementation of a new award for the language services business. Joseph is a strong advocate for gender equality, increasing the number of women in the Senior Leadership team from 25% to 60% and has worked towards equal representation of men and women on the Multicultural NSW Advisory Board.
Prior to becoming CEO, he was a member of the Advisory Board at Multicultural NSW and the Chair of Sport NSW. Professionally, Joseph was previously a General Manager in a private leadership and development consultancy and former State Manager for the AFL (Australian Football League) in NSW/ACT.
Andy Johnston is the Acting Group Manager of Social Policy Group in the Australian Government’s National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA). Social Policy Group leads, influences and invests in social policies and programs that contribute to improved safety and wellbeing of First Nations Australians, including in education, health and wellbeing, family and community safety, and housing and infrastructure policy.
Andy has spent the last 15 years working in senior roles in the Australian Government, prior to which she held senior positions in the private sector. Since 2015, she has led work in Indigenous Affairs across economic, social, and regional strategic policy, including work on the Northern Australia development agenda and standing up Northern Territory Strategy and Policy Functions. Andy has experience and knowledge of impact of remote policy settings, with particular regard to considerations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.
Andy has a PhD from Melbourne University in Trade Policy, and a Masters from the London School of Economics.
The Western Parkland City is served by the Councils of the Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly. These eight Councils have committed to working collaboratively for our region through the formation of a partnership – The Parks, Sydney’s Parkland Councils. As Executive Director for that alliance, it is my responsibility to support the Councils to plan, implement, monitor and report on agreed priority outcomes and facilitate collaboration across all three levels of government to deliver our vision for the Western Parkland City. A key part of this is ensuring that we implement the Digital Action Plan, which was designed to improve access to, affordability of and ability in digital services for all in our communities.
John led the development of the NSW Connectivity Strategy to provide meaningful digital connectivity to citizens, government agencies and emergency services across NSW. The strategy sets out how and where the digital divide can be reduced by taking a whole of government approach to partnering with industry and the Commonwealth.
Before joining NSW Telco Authority, John worked in the telco industry and consulting in strategy, customer experience and innovation leadership roles in Australia and also globally.
Nattlie (Natt) Smith is a proud Wiradjuri woman from Condobolin/Orange NSW. Natt is the Director for Aboriginal Outcomes, NSW Department of Customer Service and NSW co-lead on Closing the Gap Target 17 for Digital Inclusion. She is committed to making a positive difference through culturally responsive policy design and development. Natt advocates for the importance of Aboriginal people having a voice in service design, program implementation and the evaluation process, and has overseen a number of place-based Aboriginal-led co-design projects. Natt was awarded the Australian Evaluation Society’s Indigenous Evaluation Award for Excellence for the Aboriginal evidence building in partnership project (2019) and a NSW Premier Public Sector Award - Honourable mention with Supporting home ownership for Aboriginal people project (2022).
As the Group Product Director for Grants & Rebates at Service NSW, Claudine leads highly skilled digital product teams towards a vision where accessing financial support is stress-free and effortless for all business owners and citizens in New South Wales.
Claudine is passionate about creating high-performing teams and cultivating an environment of innovation and collaboration. She strongly believes in the power of diversity, as it brings varied perspectives and skill sets that lead to improved services for both citizens and government. Claudine emphasises the importance of providing tailored services to different groups, ensuring inclusivity and building trust in digital service delivery.
With over 10 years of experience in product management as both a practitioner and leader in the public and private sectors, Claudine is motivated by her drive to make a positive impact on customers' lives. She has successfully established and grown products and teams in organisations of varying scales.
Rory is Executive Director, Smart Places and Net Zero Cities, in the Cities and Active Transport Division and has been part of the Smart Places award-winning revolution since its inception in 2019. In this role he drives an agenda to deliver great places and outcomes for people using connected technologies and data solutions, working collaboratively across all tiers of government, with the research and academia sector and industry. His passion lies in combining a data- and technology-first approach with a citizen- or customer-led lens to smart places.
Sandy is a non-executive director, collaborator and technologist, with a passion for transforming how we think about, plan, build and develop smart, sustainable urban places. As a business leader in the telecommunications, research and NFP sector, she is excited to be part of the NSW Government’s, Smart Places team contributing to the delivery of the NSW Government’s Smart Places Strategy, and has a focus precinct development and digital equity and inclusion. As an long term active member of several boards/ advisory groups in the place making and smart cities sector including Place Leaders Asia Pacific and Smart Cities Councils ANZ, she contributes to new ways of thinking about urban policy challenges and is also completing her doctoral studies at the University of Sydney in smart urban governance.
Emily leads policy and strategy development to support the NSW Government’s ambitions to be the #1 Smart state. She also drives government readiness and appetite to use smart technologies to improve service delivery, and create urban centres that are sustainable, inclusive, connected and economically vibrant. She leads the Government’s capability programs, and strategic partnerships to accelerate safe and appropriate technology adoption.
Emily has almost two decades experience working in the public and private sector to deliver excellence in communication and engagement. She is passionate about solving wicked problems, building great relationships and delivering outcomes.