Celebrating our first year
Jess Wilson reflects on the achievements of Good Things Foundation Australia in just one short year.
Before I started at Good Things Foundation, I worked at long-standing not-for-profits, who have been delivering services in Australia for over 100 years. So, I have never had the experience of celebrating the first birthday of an organisation and the excitement that it brings.
Like any birthday, it’s an opportunity to reflect on all that has happened in the past year, stand in amazement that time has gone so quickly, feel gratitude for all the people that have been here to support in the great and the challenging times and to take the opportunity to look forward to the year ahead and to set out where we want to be this time next year.
What we’ve achieved
It was only on the 23 June 2017 that Good Things Foundation were awarded the contract from the Department of Social Services to recruit, support and manage a national network of community organisations – the Be Connected Network – with a shared aim to help older Australians to improve their digital literacy skills. It was then a year ago in early August 2017 – we opened our first office with two team members from the UK – Vanessa Kirby and our CEO, Helen Milner. They had a couple of mobile phones, some post-it notes, two laptops, a fruit bowl and a whole lot of support from the rest of the Good Things Foundation team in the UK, albeit in a totally different time zone.
I joined the team at the very end of October 2017 and by then we had two other Australian team members and about 300 Network Partners had joined the Be Connected Network.
A year on, we have:
- Built a diverse and committed team of 13 people here in Sydney, all working towards helping Australians to thrive in a digital world.
- Recruited and supported over 1,500 diverse community organisations to join the Be Connected Network, building a national network with the shared aim to help older Australians to improve their digital literacy.
- Reached 4,237 people, who have been supported by our Network Partners through the Be Connected Learning Portal. Over 30,000 further people have received alternative support.
- Awarded 775 grants aimed at building capacity within the network to deliver digital literacy support for older Australians.
- Hosted 30 face-to-face workshops all over Australia, 28 training webinars, answered 900 Helpline calls and responded to 3,500 email enquiries.
- Established a digital inclusion community of practice through our Capacity Builders program
- And, just in the last week, we launched Get Online Week, the country’s first digital inclusion campaign, which takes place from 15 – 21 October in 2018
The Network – the core of what we do
The part I love about the Good Things Foundation approach is that all we do, we do through and with the Network of community organisations that we have been busy building. We’re not here to tell people how to do things in the diverse communities across this country, we’re here to add capacity through support, resources, grant funding, and connecting people and communities that all want to make sure no one gets left behind in this ever-increasingly digital world. The Network’s diversity is its strength, enabling the Be Connected program to engage with a diverse community of older Australians.
Reflecting the diversity within the Be Connected Network, our data shows organisations themselves also support a wider range of audience groups, including people with mental health conditions, culturally and linguistically diverse people, migrants and refugees, and people with disabilities.
A big thanks
Achievements and success are very rarely a solo experience and our first year has been no different. We have had many people support us to get where we are today, and I want to thank them.
- Firstly, the Good Things UK Team – we are one team, with two offices, in different time zones, but we have the same passion for making sure we deliver high quality services that ultimately improve people’s lives. It’s been a huge joint effort and we couldn’t have achieved what we have without you.
- Our partners in the Department of Social Services and the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, who we work with everyday to develop and implement the Be Connected program to support all older Australians to learn new digital skills.
- Our other community partners like Australian Seniors Computer Club Association, Leep NGO, Australian Digital Inclusion Alliance, Australian Libraries and Information Association and many, many more across the country, who have shared their ideas and their feedback with us and, ultimately, have helped to make the Network what it is today.
- And last, but by no means least, The Good Things Foundation Australia Board and staff team. They have worked hard, been flexible and committed, supported each other and have helped to create a new organisation, with a strong vision to improve people’s lives through digital technology.
We’ve spent our first year building: building a team, building a network, building a grants program, building a Board and building many, many relationships. And we’re not finished building. We have much more to do – to build the support we provide to our Network Partners and to work together to support the 3 million Australians who are digitally excluded to thrive in a digital world. Our new Strategic Priorities will help us stay focused on this path.
We are committed to:
- Improving people’s lives
- Raising the profile of digital inclusion
- Building a dynamic social and digital inclusion network
- Being brilliant at delivering Be Connected
- Being a strong, collaborative and ambitious organisation
I am extremely proud to be working with great people here in Australia, in the UK and in Kenya, in an organisation that is truly committed to creating meaningful social outcomes in our digital world. I can’t wait for the year ahead.