Digital Sisters: AI for Good

Revolutionary AI and digital literacy project set to change the lives of women across Australia

Ever wondered how AI can be used for good? An Australian-first program led by Good Things Foundation will harness the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to empower women, particularly those from migrant and refugee backgrounds, with digital literacy skills.  

‘Digital Sisters: AI for Good’ is an innovative program that will see a new partnership forged between national digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation, AI and computer software global leader Microsoft, and Australia’s leading telecommunications and technology company Telstra, for the purpose of creating a more digitally inclusive country.

Watch our short video to learn more about the program

Jessica: As you watch this video, the world around you is going to change. Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is revolutionising the way we work, play and learn.
I am thrilled to announce our new program ‘Digital Sisters: AI for Good’. Led by Good Things Foundation, in partnership with Telstra and Microsoft.

Tim: The program will explore how AI can improve the lives of refugee and migrant women who currently lack two essential things: digital confidence and digital skills.

Lyndall: If you bank online, use apps or even watch videos on social media like this one you may take your digital skills for granted. But, imagine if you couldn’t do any of these things.

Jessica: 1 in 4 Australians are digitally excluded. That means they don’t have the digital skills and confidence or the affordable access to the devices and data they need to fully participate in our society today.

And, many more of us are struggling to keep up as technology rapidly changes around us.

Tim: Research suggests that some women are more likely to be digitally excluded and face bigger barriers when accessing the digital world. And yet – there’s never been a more important time to build digital literacy to unlock the potential of AI.

Lyndall: That’s why we are working with Good Things Foundation and Microsoft to better understand how AI will impact digital inclusion in Australia.

Jessica: Over this next year, we are going to be talking to experts in AI and local communities.

We are going to be creating new and innovative learning resources and we are going to be making sure that women in communities have the skills that they need. The AI literacy skills to fully participate in the world today.

Our program is innovative and is aspirational. We want to make sure that everyone in the community knows what AI is and how it can be used for good.

“We’re thrilled to announce this exciting new AI program that will support women to build the digital skills and confidence they need to fully participate in our increasingly AI-driven society,” says CEO of Good Things Foundation, Jessica Wilson. 

“The world is changing. And we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that  – as AI advances and new technologies emerge – no one gets left behind.” 

The program will bring together leading AI and digital inclusion experts to explore the intersection between digital and AI literacy. Findings will guide the creation of a new learning program, to be piloted through 20 community organisations, supporting women to learn about AI and how it can be used to enhance their lives. 

AI is an emerging technology that has the potential to support people to build digital skills and confidence and make our lives easier. But, like many new technologies, it also has the potential to do harm if not used responsibly or ethically, if it is not developed with inclusion in mind and if it is not used equally across the population. This is why the ‘Digital Sisters: AI for Good’ program is so important.

Wilson expects the ripple effect ‘of good’ that will result from the project to be large. 

“We know that building womens’ digital literacy skills often leads to greater employment, education and social participation opportunities for whole communities,” Wilson says. “We believe that the use of innovative AI technologies could shortcut a person’s digital learning journey and help break the cycle of digital exclusion in populations across the nation.”

In today’s technologically advanced world, digital skills are a ‘must’ not a ‘nice to have’. Yet, one in four Australians do not have the essential digital skills or affordable access to digital devices they need to fully participate in today’s society. 

Consumer research conducted by Good Things Foundation Australia in 2023 shows that women are more likely to be digitally excluded than men. The national survey also showed that one in four women needed more support to keep up with technology changes, and many people are feeling overwhelmed by the rapid changes in technology.

“Understanding and helping to close Australia’s digital divide is part of our core business at Telstra,” says Lyndall Stoyles, Group Executive, Sustainability, External Affairs and Legal, Telstra. 

“We’ve worked closely with Good Things Foundation for a number of years supporting disadvantaged Australians to participate in and benefit from the digital economy.  As a leader in responsible AI, we’re focused not only on how AI can benefit our customers and our business, but also broader society. This project looks to leverage the power of AI to boost essential digital skills among our most excluded, marking a significant stride towards closing the gap and building a connected future where everyone can thrive.”

Tim Allen, Philanthropies and Skills for Employability Lead ANZ at Microsoft says,

“At Microsoft we believe that economic growth and opportunity must reach every person, organisation, community, and country. This starts with ensuring everyone has the skills to thrive in a digital, AI-enabled economy. As a company leading the era of AI we have a responsibility to support communities to build these skills and capabilities for the future.”

“We recognise there’s never been a more important time for everyone to be digitally literate and understand how to use AI technologies safely” says Tim. “We’re thrilled to collaborate with Good Things Foundation and Telstra to empower more women through the Digital Sisters program and help enable a more inclusive, accessible future for every person and community in Australia.”

For all women in Australia to be digitally empowered, especially refugee and migrant women, they need to feel confident that they can keep up with emerging technologies like AI and be AI literate. 

This new Digital Sisters program is an extension to Good Things Foundation’s suite of digital skills programs that will build a greater understanding of AI technologies and determine how they fit within community based digital literacy programs across the country.

Outcomes from the pilot program will be shared nationally and internationally to maximise the reach and impact of AI led digital inclusion initiatives to help close the digital divide, for good.

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