Digital Evolution Conference

Jess Wilson recaps her presentation at this year's Good Things Foundation conference in the UK.

By Good Things Foundation Australia · 20/01/2019

This time last year I was three weeks into my role as National Director of Good Things Foundation in Australia. I attended Good Things Foundation’s conference, Digital Evolution, in London and was inspired by the work that everyone was doing to support digital inclusion across the UK. At that time, we only had three Australian staff members and about 300 Be Connected Network Partners across the country. The challenge ahead of us to establish a new digital inclusion Network across Australia seemed immense.

So, it was with great pride that I was able to present the work that the Good Things Australia team and our partners, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner and Department of Social Services, have done over the last year. If you have a spare 20 minutes, you can watch the presentation here.

The most interesting thing about presenting in the UK was providing some Australian context and I’m proud to say that the most tweeted photo of the day was of my slide that showed a map of Europe and the UK within the map of Australia, with space to spare. I had many people come up to me afterwards saying, that they knew Australia was big, but not that big!

The conference was chaired by Dr Sue Black, whose personal story of going from a single unemployed mum to a Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist at Durham University is inspiring in itself, but she also supports other mum’s to engage with technology through her program Tech Mums. Watching her in conversation with another amazing woman in tech, the Chair of Good Things UK, Liz Williams, was a highlight of my day.

A couple of other highlights for me were:

Dr Ellen Helsper, Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics who talked about her work mapping digital exclusion in different cities across the world. But for me, her focus suggesting that teaching people digital skills is not enough, it is actually the improvements that having these digital skills makes to people’s lives that is the end goal.


Siodnie Kingsmill, Customer Director from Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service talked about how important it is that people are at the centre of designing any government services and that actually by automating the right things in court processes, meant the people who work in these areas have more time to support people on what can be one of the most challenging days of their lives, being in court. You can check out some of the work that Good Things Foundation is doing with HMCTS here.

But, actually, the most incredible part of the day as usual for me, was meeting so many wonderful people working to support their communities. In between the formal presentations I heard about how…

Victoria Rodney from Mercy Foundation had mortgaged her house to ensure her work supporting her community to learn digital skills could continue.

Hafsah from SmartLyte in Birmingham, supporting people to access employment and promoting the importance of digital inclusion in her community through a podcast.

Claire from Leeds Libraries is helping to lead a city-wide digital inclusion program 100% Digital Leeds.

It was an inspiring day. One that made me reflect on all that has been achieved in Australia, but also how much we still have to do to make sure that everyone is able to thrive in our digital world. The benefit is, we’re not in it alone – we can learn from each other, we can share our successes and our challenges. People in government, not-for-profits, corporates, big organisations, small ones: it will take all of us and, as long as we keep people at the centre, we can make sure access to technology and the ability to use it, will improve people’s lives.