Opinion: How a $20,000 grant could change a ‘digital sister’s’ life
"If you want to be part of Australian society today, you have to be digitally included. It’s not a choice, it’s a modern day requirement." CEO of Good Things Foundation, Jessica Wilson.
As you sit at your laptop, handheld device or desktop computer reading this message, I want you to take a moment to imagine what life would be like for a refugee or migrant woman trying to create a new life in Australia if they’re not digitally connected.
If you’re a migrant or refugee, you may have only just arrived in Australia with hopes of safety and dreams of security. You want to set down roots, get a job, open a bank account and find a place to live. But you can’t because you can’t get online.
Some of you may think that this issue is only momentary or trivial. You may even ask ‘what does it matter if you can’t access mygov or Facebook’? The truth is that it matters a great deal.
What chance does anyone have at creating a new life in a new country if they already face such hurdles at the start?
Digital inclusion is essential for migrants and refugees because if you want to be part of Australian society today, you have to be digitally included. It’s not a choice, it’s a modern day requirement. If you can’t get online, it’s near impossible to interact with government agencies, get a job, find a rental home, interact with your child’s school or become connected to activities in your community. What chance does anyone have at creating a new life in a new country if they already face such hurdles at the start?
On the flip side, though, it is a more positive story. It’s been shown that by helping migrant and refugee women to build their digital skills and confidence, we’re often supporting whole families, but only if programs meet their needs and are culturally and linguistically responsive and appropriate.
That is why the Good Things Foundation, is running a new bi-lingual digital literacy program, Digital Sisters in partnership with HOST International. Funded by the Department of Social Services, the digital literacy program will empower 800 women who are refugees and migrants to build new digital skills and connections in the Australian community.
The launch marked an exciting milestone because we truly believe the pilot program will create a new set of co-designed digital inclusion solutions, specific to refugee and migrant women.
As part of the 12-month pilot, Good Things Foundation will provide expert skills in training and resourcing digital mentors all over the country. Our programs have been proven to increase digital skills, safety, confidence and social connection.
HOST International, an organisation that aims to make life better for migrants and refugees, will provide the expertise, knowledge and insight needed to engage with diverse communities. HOST will also focus on community and capacity building to enable migrant and refugee women to develop and implement their own solutions to the challenges they face through the process of program co-design.
Digital Sisters was officially launched by Minister for Social Services, Hon Amanda Rishworth in Adelaide in June. The launch marked an exciting milestone because we truly believe the pilot program will create a new set of co-designed digital inclusion solutions, specific to refugee and migrant women.
I strongly encourage any organisation that already works with refugee and migrant populations that are interested in applying to be part of Digital Sisters to do so.
Why organisations should apply for a grant
Grants worth $20,000 will soon be offered to 20 organisations across the country to participate in the Digital Sisters co-design. I strongly encourage any organisation that already works with refugee and migrant populations that are interested in applying to be part of Digital Sisters to do so.
Digital Sisters will be a unique, adaptive, and culturally and linguistically diverse initiative. Given it’s a pilot, the program presents a great opportunity for the organisations involved to truly shape the digital experience of all participants.
If you’re a service provider, this is your chance to make a real difference in the resettlement trajectory of refugees and migrants in Australia. So apply now.
I’m very confident that Digital Sisters will make great progress in closing the digital divide across Australia.
The opinion piece above was authored by Jessica Wilson, CEO of Good Things Foundation Australia.