Media release: New nationwide program launched
New nationwide program launched to empower 800 migrant and refugee women to overcome digital exclusion.
Good Things Foundation Australia in partnership with HOST International, have launched a new bi-lingual digital literacy program, Digital Sisters, to empower refugee and newly arrived migrant women to build the skills and confidence they need to fully participate in Australian society.
Funded by the Department of Social Services, Digital Sisters is a solutions-focused pilot program that will empower women who are refugees and migrants to build new digital skills and connections in the Australian community.
Grants worth $20,000 will be offered to 20 organisations across the country to participate in the co-design of the program and engage bi-lingual digital mentors, who will help and inspire learners to build their digital confidence and skills. These mentors will then provide digital skills support to around 800 women through the program.
Applications for organisations wanting to join the program will open on 3 July and close on 31 July 2023. The program will be delivered by selected organisations through to 30 June 2024.
“We are really excited about our new program, Digital Sisters, that aims to support migrant and refugee women who are digitally excluded from Australian society,” says CEO of Good Things Foundation, Jessica Wilson.
“We know how important it is for everyone to have the digital skills, confidence and devices to be able to fully participate in the community. So, whether it’s applying for a drivers licence, or helping children with their homework, this program will support women to be more confident and connected.
“We truly believe that Digital Sisters will change the lives of many female refugees and migrants, by empowering them to feel digitally secure during their resettlement journey.”
Why digital inclusion is so important to migrant and refugee women
Research suggests that one-in-four people living in Australia are currently digitally excluded. However, this figure only represents the tip of the iceberg. According to a report by Settlement Council of Australia and Good Things Foundation Australia in 2020, refugee and newly arrived migrant women are at a higher risk of being digitally excluded than the rest of the population.
“Migrant women play a key role in assisting their families to settle into Australia, yet many often don’t have priority access to digital devices,” says deputy CEO of HOST International, Mitra Khakbaz. “These women therefore have limited access to online services in particular, as emphasis is often placed on supporting other family members.
“Many government and non-government services are only accessible digitally. This presents a risk of digital exclusion if a migrant woman does not have a digital device or knows how to access one effectively.”
Khakbaz explains that for those groups of migrants that have already acquired digital skills or a device, there is yet another vital need: migrant women need support to help build trust in accessing government websites and information resources from funded services.
“That’s why we have partnered with Good Things Foundation Australia who are experts in training and resourcing digital mentors all over the country,” says Khakbaz.
“This program will allow us to work with women-led groups to co-design a program for migrant women that will benefit the whole community, by reducing digital isolation and helping communities to locate trustworthy information and support networks.”
Building a ‘Digital Sisters’ community
The Digital Sisters program will help to build a community of ‘digital sisters’ and empower participants through digital literacy education.
It’s expected that the co-designed digital skills and confidence program will support migrant and refugee women to:
- connect with their community in Australia and overseas
- connect socially with friends and loved ones
- improve work and study-ready digital skills and confidence.
“Our new Digital Sisters program will create a culturally inclusive solution that will create a community of digitally resilient women,” explains Wilson.
“This program will make great progress in closing the digital divide across Australia.”
Linda Berrigan, Director of Brand & Storytelling, Good Things Foundation Australia
Ph: 0478 119 066