The digital divide and remote service delivery

The digital divide and remote service delivery

Jo Barraket , Annette Michaux and Kathryn Bannister
24 February 2021

This webinar explored the digital divide and its impact on the remote delivery of child, family and community welfare services.

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Audio transcript: The digital divide and remote service delivery

Audio transcript (edited)

MS JOSHI: Welcome everyone to today's webinar the Digital Divide and remote service delivery. My name is Anagha Joshi. I'm a senior research officer in the knowledge translation impact team at AIFS. So this is my first webinar and I'm thrilled to be facilitating today on this really important and relevant topic right now. But before I begin we'd like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people, the traditional custodians of the land on which I'm speaking to you today in Melbourne and I would also like to pay my respect to Elders past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other Indigenous Australian attending this webinar today. Last year has been a transformative year for many in the child, family and wellbeing sector. Not only were many services required to adopt to remote service delivery or telepractice. There was also an increase in the demand for many of these services in the sector. As 2020 became a year of trial and error. We now undertake this as a chance to really look back and reflect. Today we want to discuss the research evidence and practitioner experience of remote service delivery, the challenges faced, especially those willing to digital access in literacy and also we wanted to get a chance to discuss the possible solutions of the common hurdles to telepractice as well. Joining me today we have Jo Barraket, distinguished professor and director for the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne and Swinburne University and Technology. As a member of the Australian digital inclusion index team Jo explores the social economy and the social-political effects of online technologies and is particularly interested in long term interest in the use of online technologies by not-for-profit and social economy organisations. So welcome Jo.

MS BARRAKET: Hi Anagha.

MS JOSHI: All the way from Darwin we have Kathryn Bannister, the Communities for Children team leader at Australian Red Cross in Darwin. Kathryn's experience with rural and remote service delivery to indigenous and non-indigenous communities is extensive. So welcome Kathryn.

MS BANNISTER: Thank you, I'm happy to be here.

MS JOSHI: And last but not least we have Annette Michaux, director of policy and practice at the Parenting Research centre. Since COVID-19 pandemic Annette has been leading a range of PRC collaborations with community and government agencies to improve resources for telepractice so practitioners are able to provide quality, accessible services remotely. Hopefully, all of you have had the chance to complete the telepractice quiz which we've been including in our event promo. Annette will be revealing some of the early findings for that survey today. So welcome Annette.

MS MICHAUX: Thank you and hello everybody. Lovely to be here.

MS JOSHI: So I thought we can get the ball rolling and I'll hand over to Jo to set the scene for us today. Thank you, Jo.

MS BARRAKET: Thanks Anagha and I'm really glad to be here. Thanks for the opportunity. I'd like to acknowledge that I'm also on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation and acknowledge their Elders and pay my respects. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. My job this afternoon is to provide the broad scene setting regarding digital inclusion in Australia and my esteemed panellists are going to talk in more detail about problems and solutions of digital exclusion in relation to remote services delivery, although I'll touch on that slightly in my own work in referring to my own work as well.

Today I'm going to talk about digital inclusion at two levels. First at the level of individual citizens and then also thinking about digital inclusion and exclusion and the digital divide in relation to community sector organisations in specifically in the not-for-profit sector more broadly. So I guess the first thing I want to do is just define what digital inclusion is and there are multiple definitions, a lot I'm sure amongst this audience there will be some different experiences of what constitutes digital inclusion. In our work in the Australian Digital Inclusion Index which my team contributes to in partnership with Telstra and RMIT and the project is led by Professor Julian Thomas from RMIT. We understand digital inclusion as being able to use digital technologies as a channel to improve skills, to enhance quality of life, to drive education and promote economic participation and wellbeing across all elements of society. So in many ways, not surprisingly, digital inclusion is really about forms of social and economic inclusion. Obviously we live in a digital world and digital capability is intimately bound up now with other aspects of inclusion. When we talk about digital inclusion and I'm moving on to the first substantive slide in the handouts that I provided which is a slide from the Digital Inclusion Index 2020 report, when we talk about digital inclusion we think about it in terms of three specific dimensions. The first two are probably very familiar to all of you and they relate particularly to access and access to digital technology is about having access to the devices to which you use online capability, also having different locations. So for me as a professional I've got multiple locations, although not during lockdown, in accessing the internet whereas someone, for example, who is outside of work might not have the same level of access to different locations. The second element is affordability and that won't be any surprise to any of you that being able to afford our access is important in promoting a digital inclusion. The third element is the ability to use online technologies in productive ways and that includes the ability to use online technologies to meet our needs as consumers but also our capacity to produce content inside a space when that's appropriate for our social world, our professional world, our cultural world. In the first slide that I've shared there it shows the trend out of the digital inclusion for Australian people. Now, this is not organisational data, this is individual Australians and as you can see over time our overall collective digital inclusion has increased quite considerably since 2014. But what you can also see in the figures there is that affordability has actually gone through periods of decline during that period and that's not to do with the unit price of data access which has actually dropped in real terms over that time. What it's to do with is that we're more and more aligned so we're chewing up more and more data and so the cost of being digitally included has gone up overall. In 2020 though that trend did start to drop down just a little bit again. I mean I guess the other thing to point out from that trend data is that digital ability is increasing, not at the same rate as access and it also started from a lower base. So collectively our digital ability is not as other aspects of our digital inclusion. If I move on to the second substantive slide that I provided, that image of Australia and it shows you the geography of digital inclusion in Australia, you can see from those data and by all means feel free to look at the full reports which give a lot more information, that the ACT is the most digitally included state or territory in Australia and Tasmania and South Australia tend to be the least digitally included in every year that we've conducted the index. The other thing that's not as well represented in this slide but is available in the report is that there's a pronounced country city divide in digital inclusion and definitely a pronounced country city and rural remote divide. These patterns of inclusion largely mirror other national measures of socio economic advantage in Australia so the ACT may not surprise you, often turns up as the most advantaged territory or state in Australia. In relation to today's discussion there is one important caveat in relation to the Australian Digital Inclusion Index to date. The index has until this year been based upon the Roy Morgan Single Source Survey data has been the most useful and available to us dataset to measure digital inclusion in Australia. However, because of the data collection regions that Roy Morgan use our samples from remote areas are very small and it doesn't give the full picture of how people in remote communities are experiencing digital inclusion. So for those of you who are working, for example, with remote indigenous communities you might wonder about the level of digital inclusion in Western Australian and Northern Territory and Queensland. This is probably an effect of bias in the data rather than a really true picture of those remote community experiences and I'm looking forward to hearing from Kathryn and Annette about some of the concrete detail about those experiences and I note in the reports from the Digital Inclusion Index that we have done some case studies year to year to try and fill out some of the blanks that the data has. Perhaps not surprisingly as I said before we do find that those digital inclusion patterns to mirror socio economic demographic patterns more broadly and so in the third substantive slide that I've provided you can see the biograph and this shows you that digital inclusion varies considerably by age, education levels, income levels, employment status and cultural and linguistic diversity, although in relation to cultural and linguistic diversity it's sometimes surprising to people that as a group, this group of Australians are more digitally included. That relate to the huge diversity in what constitutes a fairly blunt instrument for defining diversity. Obviously people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds include skilled migrants as well as refugees and people seeking asylum and also because people are physically away from home they do actually tend to use the internet a lot to maintain social and family connections. The gap between low and high income earners is particularly notable. That's widened since 2014 and the education gap remains significant. So for people who did not complete secondary school they scored 49.4 in the last Digital Inclusion Index measure which was 17.2 points lower than the national average. We're also aware and it's become, you know, a fairly pertinent issue during lockdown periods across the country that single parent families tend to be less digitally included and that younger people, children and younger people who are from socio economically disadvantaged backgrounds are tending to fall behind at a faster rate than those who are not from those backgrounds. The other thing to note is in relation to age. People aged 65 plus are the most digitally excluded group in Australia with both affordability and digital ability relatively for that group. We also know that four million Australians access the internet solely through a mobile connection and these people have lower digital inclusion overall largely due to the affordability issues of accessing the internet only through a mobile phone. That's quite important in terms of services delivery because mobile only users in Australia tend to be people who are experiencing other forms of exclusion and particularly people who are experiencing homelessness, young people and people in remote communities tend to be using mobile only technology more than others. So I guess the point of this demographic data is from a community services delivery perspective is, you know, raising our awareness about those groups that we seek to serve often having the least access to the technologies through which we're now providing quite a lot more services than we have in the past. So if I move on from individuals to community organisations not-for-profit sector, we do see that there's also patterns of organisational level digital inclusion and exclusion, again probably not surprising to those of you who work in many of these organisations, but possibly there's some insights from these three different forms of exclusion for people to think about. If you look at the final substantive slide that I've provided, that infographic is from the Info Exchange Group Digital Technology and the Not-For-Profit Sector 2020 Survey which is a survey that Connecting Up previously and now Connecting Up and Info Exchange have been conducting for a number of years and it's survey data on the digital participation and technology access of the not-for-profit sector. The full picture for service delivery really does require us to look at those deliver services as well as those who receive services. So the main points to be pulling out here which won't be a surprise to those of you who are doing the work, is that we can see that whilst some community sector and other not-for-profit organisations certainly are innovating in their use of digital technologies. Many struggle with basic access to the right hardware, the affordability challenges of being digitally uplifted and the abilities of their staff and volunteers to make the best use of technologies that are available. These issues have also been reflected in the Pulse of the For- Purpose Sector Survey that the Centre for Social Impact ran late last year where 49 per cent of not-for-profit staff reported being less than confident using technology and information systems. So past research I've conducted also as part of the Giving Australian Research Team also found that more than 20 per cent of not-for-profit organisations don't have their own website and that's particularly in the case for smaller community based organisations. Facebook's decision last week which saw hundreds of not-for-profit communication channels smashed and not all restored since, shows the vulnerability of those organisations who are relying on commercial platforms to manage their digital presence. From a service delivery perspective the digital exclusion of these organisations create some very real challenges. Of course many of these organisations are used to confronting such challenges head on and devising work arounds and solutions within their lean resources. I'm happy now to stop and to pass on to Kathryn to hear about a coal face experiencing during COVID-19 restrictions and the organisation's response. So over to you Kathryn.

MS BANNISTER: Thanks, Jo. So first of all I'd like to acknowledge that I'm privileged to be presenting from the lands of the Larrakia people who are the original and unceded owners of the lands and see around Darwin. I pay my respects to their ancestors who cared for this area for so many generations before my people arrived. I pay respects to their leaders who still have strong and intimate knowledge of the land and stories today and have the daunting challenge of raising their young people under challenging circumstances. I also pay my respect to the upcoming leaders who are their children and the youth of today and extend this respect to any other First Nations people who are participation in the webinar. Thank you for joining us. Then some context about some people will know, the Australian Red Cross is one of 52 Communities for Children Facilitating Partners across Australia. It's a program funded by the Department of Social Services, federal department and we're funded to work with communities to provide activities for families and children under 12 years old and we base this on decisions of a local committee and in accordance with a community informed strategic plan. So Red Cross doesn't actually deliver the activities usually but we have contracts with other organisations known as community partners to deliver the activities. We have two distinctive and contrasting geographical areas that we work with. We work with the Tiwi Islands off the coast of Darwin and Palmerston which is a satellite down of Darwin. So just a bit of context about the Tiwi Islands. They're 80 kilometres off the north coast of Darwin and across the Arafura Sea. They're pretty easily accessible normally by air and by sea. There's a regular ferry. There's about 3000 people who live there and there are three main communities plus many homelands where people live or visit. The main community is Wurrumiyanga which is on Bathurst Island and is probably the most well known and Wurrumiyanga has a population of about 2000 people and the other communities on Melville Island are smaller but they're still important hubs for their surrounding lands. Almost 100 per cent of the population are Tiwi speaking families, Tiwi culture being one of Australia's many longest living cultures on earth and to the people the keeping of their language and culture is really important and in fact it's an important legacy for all of us. There are extremely high levels of vulnerability we know that are based on the AECD, Australian Early Childhood Development Index data and also CEFA data and just broadly speaking there are about 42 per cent of children who are vulnerable in one or more area when they start school. It's a very young population. The whole Northern Territory has a young population. About 44 per cent of people being under 30 years which is much higher than the Australian average and on the islands and in Palmerston we're looking at 49 per cent of people under 30 and we know that in Southern Australian those people are pretty digitally literate but it's not quite the same up here. So on the Tiwi Islands we have got three community partners delivering four activities. The islands are reliant on satellite digital technology, although some government services have recently connected to a fibre optic under sea cable but apparently this isn't available to the NGOs or to the community members so a couple of government services, NT government services have now got great access to technology but not us. Regular mobile phone and incident outages occur, especially in the wet season and the outages can last for hours, a few hours, a half a day or days on end and in my memory the longest time has been five days and during that time people are unable to access ATMs to buy food or fuel unless they have cash, make phone calls, access emails or databases such as databases used by Centrelink. There's no place that I know of in any of the communities where people can have free Wi-Fi access and yes, that's very different to Palmerston. Palmerston is a satellite town of Darwin, it's like only 30 minutes away from the Darwin CBD. It's got a population of something like 34,000 and we think of it as being kind of two towns in one in a way. There's high levels of affluence but there's also high levels of disadvantage. The disadvantages concentrated predominantly in four key suburbs and this we know from AECD and SEIFA data as well and these suburbs are the focus of most of our SEIFA C activities but we also know that there are people who need access to activities from other suburbs and transport there is a challenge because for young families. About 21 per cent of the school children in Palmerston are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and there's also maybe about 6 per cent of people from non English speaking background families who've moved there. There's also a young population, as I've said, and we have five community partners there delivering 12 activities over the course of the year. All of Palmerston is NBN enabled although many homes on Centrelink support can't afford regular access to the internet and rely on their mobile phone data bundles for data. The City of Palmerston Council who are absolutely fabulous community minded council offers free Wi-Fi access in the CBD and it's pretty highly used by young people, homeless people and some of us when we're in the area. We've fortunately been spared the bad impacts of bushfires that many people in the south have experienced compared to other states and compared to other states we've had really low impacts of COVID. But we have had shutdown times in Palmerston. We had it between 24 March and 13 May, a couple of solid months of people staying at home and which challenged all our services to work out how to deliver connection and resources. On the Tiwi Islands we had a longer period because the area was declared a biosecurity zone between 16 March and 11 June. So for three months we couldn't send in any fly in, fly out workers. I couldn't go there and a lot of the specialists that work in our activities couldn't go there and there are very contrasting reactions to technology due to access issues but also cultural issues. So the fastest adaptors were the Palmerstone Early Childhood Playgroups, especially those who already used Facebook and Facebook groups as connectors. As most people know, that's one of the goals of groups is to connect people's families socially so that they have more support from each other, and Playgroup NT was a very early adopter there and people found themselves surprised that they were just as good as Play School presenters and they'd pre-record stories, songs and art and craft activities and load them up to share with their families. But they didn't let that standalone. They also followed up with phone calls to just help reduce the isolation that families might have if they're at home alone with their children and they also followed it up with packages of art and craft supplies and some of them were even more progressive and also did hamper drops. We had a fantastic partnerships with Foodbank for that. Other partners were not willing to use Facebook. They were concerned about security issues but they use Messenger groups and mobile phones for connection and communication. They did as much as they could to be able to see the children and continue to communicate with the children as a child safe practice but also I guess it's digital literacy as well as maintain the connections so that when the service is resumed they weren't forgotten and the children were still aware that they were out there. The success of all those communications leveraged off the existing trust and confidence and relationships and we're fortunate to have some playgroup leaders who have been doing it for years and years and so they're really well known and really trusted in the community. As I said, no digital platforms stood alone to reach out to families that people and there was a great story about how a playgroup if there was a child who had a birthday during the stay at home time, they'd arrange for other people to be able to drive past and toot to reduce that isolation and the feedback came that that was one of the things that was most valued by the families. Our youth services did meal drop offs, an engagement over the fence during the April school holiday program when they normally have been running holiday activities and people were incredibly amazed about how much more connection this brought with the families of the young people and they were pretty blown away by how much more widespread poverty was amongst their service users. The Palmerston Indigenous Network that I'm a part of that has been in existence for about five years, had concerns about families and whether we needed to do more and so they undertook to design a survey to find out if families had unmet needs and what supports might be most useful to them if the stay at home orders were extended, if we provided welfare packs and although the survey was provided digitally through Survey Monkey and we all distributed it through all the many, many, many social media platforms around town not one single survey came back digitally. But fortunately some of the playgroup leaders asked the questions during their connection calls and the results were really useful to us in thinking about this and also reminding us what a tried and true method that is of getting community voice is using leveraging of the existing relationships. But what we found out from the survey, we had about 75 respondents which is a pretty small sample, but we found out that, you know, one of the most useful things to families was the increased Centrelink payments that enabled them to help keep their family safe, but at least 85 per cent of the respondents still needed additional food and about 76 per cent still needed help with personal care items like hand sanitisers and stuff because they were kind of in short supply for a while there. About 56 per cent of the respondents said they didn't get as much supported as they wanted during that time and 38 per cent of them said they would have could have done better if they'd access to data for the internet so that they could tap into things that were going on. Another thing that I heard back from the Playgroup NG group was that as well as their groups they have a general Facebook site and that there were lots of visitors to that site that they've never seen before and that the visitors to the site didn't then come back to the face to-face activities. That could be because we had to because of the restrictions on amount of people about to use spaces that we had a booking system and you'd have to get in early to book in and that's still the case. In April the Youth Holiday Program also set up mobile Wi-Fi hotspots around the suburbs so that to discourage the young people from gathering in the town centres and I understand they were really well used and well appreciated because it enabled young people to communicate with each other as well as their support workers. Now, the Tiwi Islands, hardly any of that was successful. We have less activities I guess and it's pretty hard to contact people. People have mobile phones and data through mobile phones and people regularly, phones get smashed, phones get broken, people buy a new phone so numbers change regularly so it's pretty hard to keep in touch with anyone unless you're closely connected to them and therefore you know that they've changed their number. But if you're a service provider there's no change that you will know what any numbers are. I'm noticing that more and more people are keeping their numbers now when they activate their new SIMs but it's still very sporadic. So we had a children's counselling activity. The counsellor couldn't fly there. They would rely on the school but most of the children stopped coming to school because the families wanted to keep them with them and so most of that service broke down. We couldn't run any of the group activities but we had one standout activity where the local Tiwi support workers just rose to the occasion and with the support from people on the mainland were able, and that's maybe phone support and freight, you know, things were sent over to them, there was a vehicle that they could use. They were able to go round to people's homes and just check that families with young kids understood how to keep their family safe and also how to engage with their families which is what they would have learnt in their activities. So they visited families who had done their activities in the past and then they started visiting a group of families that would do the next round of activities when the lockdown ceased. So one of our challenges for the future because we can expect that this will happen again and it could happen much worse than it happened before, we've been blessed in the Northern Territory, is that how do we get - we have to upskill people on the Tiwi Islands who can deliver face to face and we need digital technology to support them and we need digital access, I guess, and that's just something that's on the Tiwi Island is going to be hard to do. But we can see in Palmerston that if we dedicate some our funds to making sure people have devices and have internet access then there's more services that they will be able to access. So that's me for that story and I thank you for your interest and attention and I'll just hand over to Annette now. Catch you later.

MS MICHAUX: Thank you so much, Kathryn, and I'd just like to acknowledge that I'm on the land of the Gadigal people here in Sydney. I'm at Clovelly Beach, home for the Blue Groper which hopefully is something you know about and you don't think it's something to do with nasty people in parliament house but it's a beautiful blue fish. I'd like to acknowledge all the Elders past, present and emerging and of course Aboriginal people on the call now and friends and colleagues. Thank you very much for being here today. I have got some handouts. Please access them as we go through. I'll try and remember to all out the number of the slide as I go through. Okay. I've really got three key messages today and I hope that they really start to resonate given what Jo said, giving out the really broad national picture and really detailed picture of the challenges relating to the digital divide particularly in remote communities. But the first thing to really say to you and this is on slide 3, telepractice for the place in the continuum care. It's not an either or situation. We have to really embrace this blended model that we've kind of been forced into with COVID but it's not going to go away. It really has some potential. The second point is that you play an absolutely pivotal facilitative role. I mean that out clearly in both previous presentations that NGOs and indeed in government organisations and they play a key role in bridging the divide between families who might have trouble with access and getting those families access. The third key message is that telepractice provides really welcome options, particularly where in person services aren't suitable or aren't accessible. Just by way of background, Parenting Research Centre we are all about working with agencies to improve practice in line with available evidence. So when COVID came along and the need to activate opportunities use technology more effectively, we were really keen to look at how nationally we could support good telepractice as part of the continuum of care, how could we support agencies to build a telepractice evidence base and what role could Parenting Research Centre play in that. So just on slide 7 you can see we've been involved in four telepractice projects. The first one just to let you know about is the NGO Telepractice Centre which were leading with Karitane and that's really been a fantastic opportunity to work and partner with 15 different NGOs as part of the community practice. Those NGOs include and I wanted to acknowledge them, Aqua, Uniting, Social Futures, The Smith Family, Life without barriers and Key Assets and also a Government Department, Department of Communities and Justice in New South Wales. You can see from that range of organisations they go across the continuum so like Red Cross Smith Family provides things like this for children and educational, prevention activities right through to out of home care providers. But we've got people working across kind of different groups of the population. We have 15 broader group of NGOs involved in that community practice where are identifying gaps, what help do we need to provide good telepractice. And our project is about providing a structure approach to the telepractice solutions. The other three projects are funded by DHHS, now Department of Family Fairness and Housing. I hope I've got that right, in Victoria, a new name for the department in Victoria. That includes a project that I'm really talking about today quite a bit where we've got curated resources for practices in telepractice. So adapting from telehealth but also things that are much more relevant to the child and family sector. We're undertaking a Delphi study to really start to understand expert consensus on good practice in this space. We've just started that work and that's particularly looking about families experience in vulnerability and we're also doing, undertaking some research on how the parent experienced telepractice particularly in more vulnerable families. So I'm drawing across these projects and just wanted to acknowledge the wealth of engagement from the particular groups. So some of the issues relating to the digital divide I think have been really well covered already by Jo. I'd probably just highlight a couple of things that have come up through the work we've been doing so working with different families, Aboriginal families, needing to really take account of people needing to move around and how do we as service providers to that. There's also the issue of families having a range of diverse care and responsibilities, agencies needing to acknowledge that and how we engage in a meaningful responsive way over the phone, over videos culturally and linguistically diverse families, particularly where families need interpreter services can be challenging. There are also we've heard about invisible families who are suffering from a double whammy that affected by lack of connectivity so no internet and not able to access services in person and that being a real issue and being magnified during COVID where drop-in facilities, events in shopping centres, things might have gone online where people can access those online activities that have a bit of a double whammy and the other areas trust and privacy issues have come up quite a lot where people who are perhaps really concerned for appropriate reasons about government surveillance, also really concerned about running a bill from being on the phone or being on a digital, being on a video call can really get in the way of them being able to engage. So there's trust and privacy that are really important. Some of the gaps, I'm just going through this reasonably quickly. These have really come out of the project which we've covered with Karitane and the 15 organisations in the community of practice and this is on slide 11 where members of the community of practice who are really facilitating family engagement with services through telepractice were engaged in a survey with us and in that survey they identified what their telepractice needs were and then we went for a prioritisation exercise with them to work out which areas were priorities to work on. The four key areas that came up that we're now working on are working with Aboriginal and Torres Islander families and I mentioned some of those issues previously and lack of access to phones and the examples we heard earlier are really clear examples of from Kathryn how, you know, some people swapping phones, they don't even have access to phones. We spoke to some people in the Kimberley, similar kind of information where people have gone back to country and services were really having to adapt their ways of working during the pandemic, working to suit phone contact and rather than workers calling clients, clients because they didn't quite remember getting the phone and who would have access to the phone, clients phoning workers instead, so have various work around because of the unreliability and sharing devices with people and having privacy issues there and also checking in that people have got proper spaces et cetera. In terms of people with disabilities, making sure we are adapting our resources so they're easy to understand and easy to read. We've got quite a few complex instructions in all of our resources that we really need to dial back on. so really a lot of learning there as well. Responding to in session risks, remembering quite a few of the services within our community, the practice of working in a shop, protection out of home care, family preservation space. So they're really keen to work out how do you do active planning for face participation by children and families, what are the emergency procedure, how do you differentiate between concerning levels of disengagement and things where people are just disengaged because of other things going on around them. So, and engaging new families, can we organise to loan the phones, can we organise ways of making sure people getting access. So just moving quickly to tips and practices. So how can we actually help clients access online services. Just a big caveat here is again talks to the structural issues here. Some of these issues are about big policy issues that we need to drive for and that internet access needs to be essential and an essential service that all Australians get access to. But beyond that there are about three things and this is on slide 14, to say there are definitely things services can do and are doing. So things like affordable data plans Telcos often have some really good programs. The second point access to the internet on suitable devices, either by lending out those devices, brokering and giving families those devices or looking for affordable options, and thirdly, that ability issue that Jo spoke to so eloquently, how can we support skill development and there are a number of great online programs, Be Connected, Digital Springboard and I know some of those organisations go and do physical in person training as well, recognising people won't have access to online training if they don't have access in the first place. So those are some of the ideas and solutions that are coming up. Maximising and the next slide, slide 16 just has some ideas about maximising privacy and confidentiality occurs. Certainly for vulnerable clients this is a real issue that appears for client so who else is there, who else can see what's going on, how does the client feel about that. Also needing to protect the privacy of other people in the room so who around them needs to be protected. Closing documents on your screen and the client's screen so there's not inadvertent sharing. Things like discussing issues relating to recording of sessions. Sometimes in parenting sessions you do want to role playing record, do those things need to be deleted maybe afterwards and where will they will be stored and checking platform security and definitely work with your IT providers and the platforms you'll be using to bring people up to date, settings and security. So I’m just going to back on slide 17 to my key messages. So telepractice is absolutely part of the continuum of care. Agencies play a crucial role which is also why you need to make sure small and medium agencies. There are 20 per cent of agencies that don't have websites. How do we make sure we are supporting those agencies who might have those tentacles out into remote rural communities or access clients who wouldn't otherwise have access. And the third point again, telepractice does provide some welcome options particularly where in person service is not suitable or accessible. Specifically what we've been hearing from kind of a broad network of people we've been connecting with through the services system directly is of doing in home support. Can help some clients engage better. Some clients actually prefer not to have authority figures or workers coming into their home and a bit of distance can be helpful. On the other hand, we also have examples where we have a dad who was been ordered to undertake parenting programs but he's a long distance driver so it's very hard for him to get to a physical parenting program but when the service went online and offered its parenting programs online he was able to attend those sessions. So the change to telepractice means that he was actually able to get the support he needed and interestingly and anecdotally we found that the agencies are saying that more men and other co-parents have been able to engage a bit more since the pivot to telepractice. The next slide 18 has just got some resources for you to have a look at. Be Connected, Digital Springboard and our website has got some great resources including the telepractice quiz. But I'll finish with the result for our telepractice quiz. It's a bit of fun and thank you to the nearly 200 of you that have actually filled it out. If you haven't done it yet do so after the webinar. We've got an average score of 57 out of 100 so the quiz is actually intended to its focus as an engagement tool, a way of people getting to expand their thinking about telepractice. So we wanted to peak your interest in topics relevant to telepractice and get you thinking about areas you might want to learn more about. But just a couple of examples, question 1 was, 'Which of the following is the best definition of telepractice', this is on slide 19. Most of you chose the answer which is absolutely about providing services and supports from a distance. Question 2 is about, 'How do experts recommend you adapt your eye contact with telepractice.' Now, interestingly more eye contact is recommended. 53 per cent of you thought the same or less is better. Question 3 was about, 'How do experts recommend you adapt your body language for telepractice.' I should be doing more of this. More expressive bodily language is actually needed, but only 35 per cent of respondents chose that answer. On slide 20, just moving on, 'What's the optimal length of a group video conference for telepractice?' Generally speaking it's recommended that you shorten your sessions, but less than 44 per cent chose this option. So that was quite interesting. The question about the cheapest device, there's actually less than $100 for a tablet and 32 per cent knew. So about a third of people knew that you could get tablets for that kind of price. And lastly, what the person's view on a session, 60 per cent of you chose the answer to double check that people can see or hear you. So hopefully that gives you a bit of a sense of things to be aware of for the future. We are all learning so much and of course there is a lot more to learn. So thank you so much and now I will hand back to Anagha, thank you.

MS JOSHI: Thanks, Annette. Thank you everyone, all three speakers today for some really interesting and really relevant presentations. I know we tried to pack in a lot today so thank you so much for that. I think today it was a really good opportunity for us to think about how, you know, this adaptation to remote service delivery is probably here to stay. We have to be nimble. We have to see ways that we can try and move between face to face delivery and, you know, we had that chance to start talking about how we can do that with Annette's presentation. With Jo's presentation I think we really got a chance to understand where the digital divide exists, how certain populations including those facing socio economic disadvantage are particularly digitally excluded. People also like single parents, mobile only users and there's definitely a huge country to metro divide there. Kathryn then definitely then painted that picture for us and took us on that journey to NT where digital inclusion is challenged whilst at the same time she also explained how, you know, there are ways to be innovative and practical about addressing these and whether that be through outlets like social media or using post to actually get people on track and adapt those challenges. Like I said, Annette really highlighted how there's some practical ways to come through this and work out ways to work with your clients and really describe how the organisation needs to be set up and really facilitate that support in order for remote service delivery or telepractice to be effective. So I guess I'll start off some questions possibly from me first for the three of you if I can join request you guys to join me for a few minutes for some questions. My first question I guess, as a practitioner myself I think that we often make assumptions about what is needed and, you know, in that circumstance we don't really get time to think about it and do we as practitioners some make assumptions about remote service delivery or using telepractice and maybe that limits our confidence and use of it. That was one of my questions that I had which I don't know but Kathryn, we could start with you and your opinion on that?

MS BANNISTER: Yes. So can I just check that question is do we make assumptions that are inaccurate? Yes. Yes, so you know, everything that our service providers were able to do was predicated on the idea that people had digital access and I guess we don't know, we currently do not know if they were access on a mobile device or whether they were accessing on their Smart TV and we kind of knew not to assume that people had internet at home. But we had no idea how, you know, in a short period we could enable them to get that access and if they have the device, if we gave them a data bundle whether they'd have a device and whether they'd know how to use it because if, you know, they're not regularly exposed to it then they wouldn't get it. We always make assumptions as non indigenous people about indigenous people's willingness and readiness to engage with us, let alone on a digital device.

MS JOSHI: Absolutely,

MS BANNISTER: That's my thought.

MS JOSHI: Yes. Annette, did you have anything further about the kind of assumptions that often we have as practitioners and maybe in the other way as well that you sometimes expect, you know, that people don't have access, so I'm curious to know about your perspective with the types of people that you've been working with in your research?

MS MICHAUX: Yes, look, I think to Kathryn's point, we are often hard to reach as service providers rather than thinking of, you know, clients as hard to reach and I think, you know, with digital access it's up to us to think of ways of communicating and supporting bridging the digital divide and doing that in ways that I think we do make assumptions but it's really important that we listen to practitioners and services and find out what their thinking is and how we can map the gaps possibly between their thinking and some other ways of doing things, and just thinking to Jo's point earlier that, you know, it's complex but I've been on three webinars this week using different technologies and I'm just struggling, you know, how do I share screens when I'm doing Zoom, Teams and this is Go to. So you know, we all need support and we're all learning so that ability aspect, how do we make sure the workforce capacity is built alongside the client capacity. So that ability piece is central and sometimes that lack of confidence can get in the way of using the tools and I know people generally are still much more comfortable with phone than with video and I think there's evidence to support that in telehealth and that applies to telepractice as well.

MS BARRAKET: I think I'd add that, you know, we see colonising effects in the design of the technology as well so there's assumptions being made by designers all the time. There's been some fantastic examples of genuine, you know, co-design. There is I won't go through them now because we don't have time but where we recognise the assets of the people that we're working with and we value the input that they have, then we come up with and it's never universal, but more universal design than you can have when frankly a lot of middle class while fellows get in a room together and get on a whiteboard. So you know, I think that there is a lot of scope for better co-design of the technology as well as services where I know that that's a conversation that's quite alive.

MS JOSHI: Okay. So one of the questions that we had from the audience was to Jo, it was a question on how is the data collected for the digital participation survey and it is possible that it's skewed if it was collected digitally.

MS BARRAKET: It’s not, it hasn't historically been collected digitally. It's collected through the Roy Morgan Single Source Survey and that is actually done face to face and it's a household based survey. We're actually changing the dataset this year and we've moved to original data collection and that has involved collecting data both through online means and through snail Mail. We're very aware of the problems of using digital technologies to measure digital inclusion and exclusion.

MS JOSHI: So the next question is about what are some strategies to address and respond to the lived experiences of people affected by the digital divide. So I think one is an interesting one because it talks not just about the practical aspects of how do we, you know respond to the digital challenges but also how do we address the lived experiences of people who have been affected by - I guess this question I can throw it out to the group who would like to answer this question.

MS BANNISTER: Sure. I mean we've reflected a little on this and one of the things that we're thinking about is how do we skill people up before the event, before they're cut off sort of thing and that means getting them devices and getting them, you know, someone to go to their home and help them learn to use it and, you know, talk about sound and headsets and backgrounds and, you know, looking after the device I suppose and how much data is going to get used up because naturally people want to use it for their own connections as well and, you know, we don't - yes, how much is enough data also to suit a family and there's so many things. But it's about sort of setting it up beforehand I guess and enabling people to, you know, tell you what their issues are once they've had a try and some people may have more knowledge and information than we're assuming that they have too. But we found that with some of our co-workers in the sector that when we had our, you know, we had our network groups on Zoom and things like that somebody always had a problem of dropping out, or more than a few somebodies. We had much less participation than we would have if we had it face to face and by the end of the shutdown time we're all incredibly frustrated and long to talk to each other face to face again so that we didn't have, you know, people with sound problems, people with dropouts, all those contingencies that are a problem.

MS JOSHI: Yes, that's really important to set up structures in advance so we can do things a bit better the next time around. I guess we have to really adapt quickly and so people have to rely on what they have available this time when the shutdowns happened. But, yes, I feel like this whole experience has really given us a chance to really identify those gaps, like what you mentioned in that, you know, where are those gaps coming out and where within our target if we do want to continue at least some kind of hybrid model into the future so some people might prefer that as well. Do you either of you want to talk to that point, Jo and Annette about what some strategies would be to respond to lived experiences?

MS BARRAKET: Yes. I'm conscious of listening to Annette so I want to hear what she's got to say. But I just quickly say - I mean the way I interpret that question is how are we going to deal with the after effects of this exclusion.

MS JOSHI: Yes.

MS BARRAKET: And I think I mean this is where we've paid a lot of attention to the very critical importance of medical science in terms of preparing vaccines but we also need to pay attention to the critical importances of social science, good inclusive social science to understand because there's going to be a long tail on this, particularly in areas to do with education and work and we're going to need to pay attention to people's experience and think about what kinds of remedies and design changes need to occur to respond. So there's no question it's a really critical issue but I’m actually really interested to hear from Annette about what she has to say.

MS MICHAUX: There’s a couple. There's a couple of key things here. I think one of the groups - because of our really a practice kind of slanted towards the highly disadvantaged children, particularly Child Protection and out of home care, we are really concerned about yet again children in the care system being at the frontline when they're educationally disadvantage and, you know, there's been remote schooling. There's a whole rise of concern around children's use and monitoring children on the internet and, you know, are they accessing inappropriate websites. Also are they engaging in harmful, are they engaging and exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours themselves. Often children in out of home care are kind of in that space either targeted or involved in some of those behaviours. There are whole range of reasons and trauma, there's connection between trauma and those kind of activities anyway. So real concern that yet again the most disadvantaged will get the double, triple whammy. So we're very concerned and, you know, keen to talk to other agencies and funders about what are we going to do, do we need to look at the package of supports, digital supports we put around children and carers. The other thing is kinship carers are often in that, and carers are often in that 50 plus group, you know and Aboriginals they may be considered kind of in that older age group in terms of less ability, but the over 65s we know from Jo's research again might have the accessibility and ability issue and carers are often older Australians. So that's a real concern for us and in terms of lived experience there's a lot to learn in terms of some of the positive things we can take away from people using digital technology to choose when to come in and out of session. So we've noticed from the parenting groups people just clicking off and saying I just had a bit of a technical issue. We suspect sometimes it's just getting too much and people to just want to just get away from it for a while but they're coming back and they're coming back to the next session. So there's some interesting things about that but we don't know. We haven't got the evidence for that yet. These are just little anecdotal stories that need to be put together. So we need Jo and others to do research. As I said, we're doing a small research project in Victoria about Victorian parents experiences for the kind of lockdown and digital inclusion and technology. So that will be very important I think to get some of those sorties from the research so we can go beyond from the anecdote.

MS JOSHI: Yes, it’s a really interesting one because it's not just about what do we do better but how do we then mitigate some of the damage control that occurred and, you know, during that period people have been like possibly scarred through that whole experience and that digital exclusion making divisions any further greater in society. So we'll just have to now go not just solving but also like going further to try and re-integrate people back into wanting to seek out services sometimes because of, you know, difficulties having to have done that in a very mandatory way. One more practical question I think. This one goes to a little bit about what you were saying, Annette towards the end of your talk about whether there are any suggestions for affordable device options and packages where costs could be included into the program budget or provide immediate and long term options for isolated users. So is there any like options for them?

MS MICHAUX: I think it's really important that the service system and service providers, particularly ones that have advocacy avenues through their peak bodies are advocating for these packages of care that it is essential, an essential service to be connected so how do we ensure that people accessing our system can access our system. So I think that there's a real advocacy piece there, but some funding bodies do give organisation brokerage so why - people need to use their brokerage funds to either give people devices or give people data packs or lend them to them during the duration and that is absolutely happening. The Smith Family is doing some really good work around giving I think it is part of Learning For Life but they give devices to children. But we also need parents have devices as well so, you know, how do we package that up. So I think there's some really good opportunities and we need to advocate for this kind of - the access, the other piece of that is making sure people have the skills they need for that ability and making sure we use mentoring and coaching so that people can use those things with confidence and be part of and included in the whole community.

MS JOSHI: That's a really good one. Did either of you, Jo or Kathryn, have any further examples like non-for-profits or anyone that's really trying to address this gap for these isolated communities at all?

MS BANNISTER: We did have the experience with the vast program of them getting to a point where they started doing not knowing how long shutdown was going to happen, they started doing some training online but with their family people who were going to become the facilitators or their activity and again that just relied that people would have those devices and have that internet access and we did talk about the thing about using their money, their brokerage money or whether we needed to find some more for funds for them to subsidise internet packages for people. But we didn't have to do it in the end because the stay at home orders were lifted and people were by the beginning of semester 2 people were able to meet face to face in small groups and that was a small group activity.

MS JOSHI: Do the presenters have any sense of whether people are getting get better service through traditional face to face delivery or telepractice equally successful? This is a big question. It's not easy to answer especially because I've been in that space too but does anyone have a feeling towards answering that question?

MS BANNISTER: I've got one thought and it came up for me when Annette was speaking the idea about cyber security is an issue of concern and particularly in Aboriginal communities. I find that where young people are accessing social media there can be a lot of harshness and bullying like behaviour that no-one else is necessarily aware of so that's parents probably need a lot of support there to be aware of what those risks are and whether there is anything they can do about it. So cyber safety and I have been talking - I think there's a mob called Digimob or something like that who do things for Aboriginal communities and when I've met them at events I've said what are you doing about cyber security and they weren't doing anything at the time at the time at the last Barunga Festival when I spoke with them about it, but that's a few years ago now because we couldn't have a Barunga last year.

MS MICHAUX: I mean in terms of parenting programs and interventions there is some emerging evidence. I think Triple P Online is doing kind of proper RCT on whether they're getting the same results from the online version. I know internet based parent child interaction therapy is getting equal results to face to face. That's an interesting one because a therapist actually sits behind the two way screen in that program anyway so it lends itself incredibly well to the 12 sessions that are held and I know Karitane have been trialling that and getting very good results and I think there's an international study of internet based parenting interaction therapy. So there's certainly some evidence that it can be effective and, you know, there's obviously the whole of the telehealth and telemental health where there is some emerging evidence. But you kind of you have to look at the design, but there is certainly emerging evidence in some circumstance. But when we're talking about the digital divide obviously that only is going to work for families and parents that can access the internet in the first place, to the previous point that if more families have it as a choice because it suits them, you know, the programs being run at 8 o'clock at night when a working parent can actually pretty well get there, they have to have connectivity. If they haven't got that they can't attend so that barrier can still exist which is to that point about how can we create packages and ensure this as an essential service because this is, you know, post COVID people still need blended models of care I think.

MS JOSHI: Definitely, definitely. One other question I thought was really interesting, I think we did touch on it during the presentations as well, is how do you work with families by telepractice when there are safety concerns such as domestic violence, for example, where the perpetrator is in lockdown with the victim during COVID. That was one I think, Annette, you might have mentioned it in yours but is there any strategies that can you put in place to help support those types of clients.

√ MS MICHAUX: Look that, so that's come up as a really big area of concern. Again the group we're working with in that community of practice are generally working for 80 per cent of their clients are experiencing domestic violence and it's a child protection context. So very concerned about how you handle this and we are actually just working on a series of materials for responding. So many organisations have developed policies and procedures around kind of risk assessments online and what you can do when there's risk and what you can't do and some are some are saying, you know, you kind of have to do a face to face assessment when there's domestic violence or when you're doing the, you know, when you're the child welfare authority, you have to go in person, but beyond that when you are a family worker in the community you are still experiencing these kind of risky situations, what are some things you can put in place. So we are just working that out. It's going to go through a process of we're doing kind of rapid cycle testing of these products to make sure they work with practitioners but the plan is that after we've done some testing that that would be open access and on our website and other people's websites. So watch this space. We have got some information already on our website about this.

 

MS JOSHI: Fantastic resources, yes, I've seen those. Excellent. So I think that's a really good overview. I think if you want we could have time for one last question. It's a bit of a broader question and I do feel like all three of you have already spoken about examples but I guess people are really - audiences are really interested in examples of agencies on what they've done. So are there any other places that they can check out in terms of online, other webinars where people can see what examples of what other community organisations have done to adapt to promote service delivery and how they've actually tried to address the digital divide.

MS BARRAKET: Yes, I imagine that people involved in this conversation have got their own networks of sharing experiences and resources, et cetera. Within the sort of north pocket landscape in Australia the Info Exchange Group which includes Connecting up and Info Exchange is one group that I think, you know, plays has played a long term active role in understanding the digital access and digital innovation potential of not-for-profit organisations. I can't speak just specific resources that they've got online but they've got such a legacy in the area I imagine that there's some resources there. One of you mentioned, one of my co-presenters just mentioned the Digimob. There's quite a lot and again, recognise the irony of encouraging people to go online to think about digital inclusion there's actually quite a lot of really good sharing that goes on through some of the social media platforms. Twitter in particular has quite an active digital inclusion and civil society presence and that really is about, you know, if you're on Twitter searching for particular hashtags and particularly names.

MS MICHAUX: From our perspective, just coming more on the service part because those examples Jo gave are really brilliant actually, Karatarni pivoted to 100 per cent online delivery within two weeks because they've got quite a lot of experience so things like their, they went to virtual - you know those sleep clinics when you've got a crying - your baby won't stop crying and you go and do a residential sleep clinic, they pivoted to do that completely online within two weeks and they've actually kept that service going. But they have a lot of experience and I think they're going to be publishing some of their resources. They've done a couple of talks on a very practical level the things you need to have in place by the preparation phase, engagement phase and ongoing phase to support this blended model of care and they've got a great diagram on the continuum of care that they do. So that's one organisation that's ahead of the curve. I know we are planning on getting some materials together with organisations like Catholic Care Wilcanna Forbes, Uniting the outfits who are working with the Aboriginal Community Organisation in Kununurra, he's name escapes me, because they're doing some brilliant work. But once we have some of those case studies available from our project in the next couple of months so hopefully we can check because I think you're right, those practical examples just can bring it to light more for people.

MS JOSHI: Absolutely, absolutely. All right. Well, I think that's we all have time for today. So thank you all for joining us today and we look forward to seeing you at our next webinar. Until then stay safe and have a good week thank you very much.

MS BARRAKET: Thank you.

MS BANNISTER: Thanks Anagha.

WEBINAR CONCLUDED

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Slide outline: The digital divide and remote service delivery

Slide outline

1. The digital divide and remote service delivery

Annette Michaux
24 February 2021

2. Welcome

3. Key messages

  • Telepractice has a place in the continuum of care.
  • Agencies play a key facilitative role.
  • Telepractice provides welcome options, particularly when in-person services are not suitable or accessible.

4. Background

We help children and families thrive by driving improved ways of supporting parenting.

Partner logos: 

  • MyTime: Supporting parents of children with disabilities
  • smalltalk: Giving your kids a great start (logo)
  • raisingchildren.net.au: The Australian Parenting website (logo)

5. Background cont.

  • We work with agencies to improve practice in line with the best available evidence.
  • Increased focus on telepractice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • National focus on good telepractice as part of a continuum of care
  • Helping to build a telepractice evidence base for community services

6. Telepractice projects

7. Telepractice projects cont.

  • NGO Telepractice Venture
    • a community of practice with 15 NGOs
    • identify gaps
    • provide a structured approach to telepractice solutions
  • DHHS Telepractice projects
    • Telepractice in Parenting Support
    • Delphi study
    • Parental experience of telepractice

8. Issues related to the digital divide

9. Issues related to the digital divide cont.

  • Lack of access to devices and sufficient data
  • Low literacy
    • general
    • digital
  • Working with different families, for example:
    • Aboriginal families
    • CALD families
    • ‘Invisible’ families.
  • Trust and privacy issues

10. What gaps have we identified?

11. What gaps have we identified? cont.

  • Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
  • Working with clients with disability or mental health issues
  • Responding to in-session risks
  • Engaging new families

12. What we’ve been working on

13. Tips and practices

How can I help clients access our online services?

  • Solutions are often
    • Big-picture, policy-based solutions
    • Internet access is an essential service.

14. Tips and practices part 2

How can I help clients access our online services?

  • Services can help with
    • Affordable data plans
    • Access to the internet on suitable devices
    • The skills to use technology effectively

15. Tips and practices part 3

Maximising privacy and confidentiality

  • Services can help with
  • Check in with clients 
  • Close documents 
  • Issues with recording session? 
  • Check security 

16. Wrap-up

17. Key messages part 2

  • Telepractice has a place in the continuum of care.
  • Agencies play a key facilitative role.
  • Telepractice provides welcome options, particularly when in-person services are not suitable or accessible.

18. Useful resources

  • Be Connected website: beconnected.esafety.gov.au
  • Digital Springboard: digitalspringboard.org.au
  • PRC Telepractice Toolbox: parentingrc.org.au/telepractice-in-parenting-support

19. PRC Telepractice quiz

 

  • Which of the following is the best definition of telepractice?
    • Providing supports and services from a distance.
    • 86% chose this answer
  • How do experts recommend you adapt your eye contact for telepractice?
    • More eye contact when looking into the camera.
    • 53% thought the same or less eye contact was better. 
  • How do experts recommend you adapt your body language for telepractice?
    • More expressive body language is needed.
    • Only 35% chose this answer

20. PRC Telepractice quiz results

  • What is the optimal length for a group videoconference session? - 
    • Group sessions should be shorter to reflect attention spans online.
    • Less than half (44%) chose this
  • How much does the cheapest tablet computer at Officeworks in Australia cost? - 
    • Cheapest tablet is less than $100.
    • 32% knew the cheapest tablet was less than $100.
  • What is the first thing you should do in a telepractice session? - 
    • Check they can hear and/or see you adequately first.
    • 60% chose this answer

21. We want to hear from you

Email us: telepractice@parentingrc.org.au

22. Thank you

Acknowledgements: Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (Vic.)

23. The digital divide and remote service delivery

Jo Barraket, Centre for Social Impact Swinburne
February, 2021

24. Digital inclusion in Australia over time (2014–2020)

Figure 2: Australia: dimension trends over time (ADII 2014-2020)

 

Source: Roy Morgan, Single Source March 2020 inAustralian Digital Inclusion Index 2020.

Retrieved from https://digitalinclusionindex.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/TLS_ADII_Report-2020_WebU.pdf#page=13

25. The national picture 2020

Map of Australia with ADII scores.

State ADII scores: NSW - 63.5, VIC - 63.1, QLD - 62.2, SA - 61.9, WA - 64.1, TAS - 59.6, ACT - 67.5, NT* - 57.5

  • Australia 2020 = 63.0
  • Australia 2014 = 54.0

*Sample size < 150, exercise caution in interpretation.

Retrieved from https://digitalinclusionindex.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/TLS_ADII_Report-2020_WebU.pdf#page=12

26. Digital inclusion and demographic contours

Table 10: Australia: Digital inclusion by demography (ADII 2020). 

Retrieved from https://digitalinclusionindex.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/TLS_ADII_Report-2020_WebU.pdf#page=21

27. Digital inclusion of the not-for-profit sector

Some of our key findings include: 

  • Only 30% of not-for-profits already had all the systems and software needed for staff to work from home during COVID-19.
  • 54% of not-for-profits are less than satisfied with the way they use technology.
  • 49% of not-for-profit staff are less than confident using technology and information systems.
  • 46% of not-for-profits do not have ways of actively monitoring information security and cyber risks.
  • 41% of not-for-profits said improving their website is a top priority.
  • 52% of not-for-profits are using at least one type of new or emerging technology.

 

Retrieved from https://www.infoxchange.org/sites/default/files/digital_technology_in_the_not-for-profit_sector_2020.pdf#page=6

 

This webinar was held on Wednesday, 24 February 2021.

COVID-19 has produced increasing demands on many child, family and community welfare services, including mental health and domestic violence. At the same time, due to restrictions, services have needed to shift to remote service delivery, which has highlighted inequities in community levels of digital access and literacy. Many service providers have created innovative solutions to continue supporting their clients and community.

Drawing on some of these experiences and the research evidence, this webinar explored:

  • The ‘digital divide’ and which population groups are most at risk of digital exclusion, and why
  • The challenges of operating when both clients and service providers are impacted by digital exclusion
  • Innovative solutions and practical considerations for ongoing remote service delivery.

This webinar is of interest to professionals working in domestic and family violence, mental health, child protection, out-of-home care and other social services.

Questions answered during presenter Q&A

To view the presenter Q&A, go to 51:50 in the recording

  • What assumptions are made about remote service delivery?
  • How do you collect data about digital participation without collecting it digitally?
  • What are some strategies to address and respond to the lived experience of people affected by the digital divide?
  • How can we provide affordable digital device options to isolated service users?
  • Do clients receive a better service through face-to-face service delivery or is telepractice equally as successful? 
  • How do you work with families via telepractice when there are safety concerns such as domestic violence?
  • What are some examples of organisations doing work to address the digital divide?     

Related resources

  • Telehealth guidelines
    • Emerging Minds: A practical guide for practitioners working with children and families through telehealth.
    • Parenting Research Centre: Telepractice guidelines for practitioners working in parental support.
  • Digital Inclusion Index
    This report, produced by Telstra in collaboration with Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University and RMIT, describes the digital inclusion index, which measures the extent of Australia’s online participation.
  • Digital Nation Australia
    This infographic by Good Things Foundation Australia showcases the digital inclusion landscape in Australia.
  • When home becomes the workplace
    This paper, produced by Monash University, describes the impact of remote service delivery on both practitioners and clients in the domestic violence sector.
  • COVID-19 and early intervention
    This report, published by the Early Intervention Foundation, explores the evidence, challenges and risks associated with virtual service delivery methods in early intervention.
  • Online family work
    This report by FAMS describes the NSW response to online family work. It explores the results of several conversations with workers and CEOs of organisations working with children, young people and families since the government implemented social distancing rules.
  • Be Connected: Every Australian online
    This website provides practical resources to share with clients to improve digital literacy.
  • Telepractice and telehealth: Literature review
    This literature review by Outcomes Practice Evidence Network (OPEN), Child and Family Services explores the existing research on telepractice and telehealth.

Featured image: © GettyImages/Mladen_Kostic

About the presenters

Jo Barraket

Jo Barraket is Distinguished Professor and Director of the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne and Swinburne University of Technology. She has research interests in the social economy and the socio-political effects of online technologies. Jo is a senior member of the Australian Digital Inclusion Index team, delivered in partnership with colleagues from RMIT and Telstra. She also has a long-term interest in the use of online technologies by not-for-profit and social economy organisations. Jo has led more than $10 million in funded research and is the author of around 80 publications in her areas of expertise.

Annette Michaux

Annette is Director of Policy and Practice at the Parenting Research Centre, an organisation dedicated to finding evidence-based solutions to support families in their parenting. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Annette has been leading a range of PRC collaborations with community and government agencies to improve resources for telepractice, so practitioners are able to provide quality, accessible services remotely.

She is passionate about using evidence to improve practices that contribute to a society where children and their families can thrive. Annette has held senior positions in government and non-government organisations for over 20 years and is a Board Member of Families Australia, the peak body for Australia’s child and family services.

Kathryn Bannister

Kathryn Bannister is currently the Communities for Children (CfC) Team Leader at Australian Red Cross in Darwin. As a DSS CfC Facilitating Partner, Red Cross funds CfC activities in the communities of Palmerston, a satellite city of Darwin, and on the Tiwi Islands, just 80 kilometres over the Arafura Sea from Darwin.

Kathy has worked in community-based services as well as the Australian Public Service for over the past 36 years in the Northern Territory. As a school teacher early in her career, she taught English as a Second Language with First Nations peoples speaking vernacular first languages. Kathy is passionate about equity and the opening up of opportunities for First Nations peoples to maintain their languages and cultures as well as be an important part of the social and economic fabric of the Northern Territory and Australia.

Comments

Great webinar and really highlighted the advancement of digital technology as well as our reliance on it, yet digital divide exists not just on access, affordability and skills on an individual level but also on NGOs and their workers especially those smaller agencies which's a concern. That said, it's great to see examples of how we can harness digital technology to overcome challenges such as geographical distance, time, space and limited resources. There's also question on data privacy. I was gonna ask the panel on their thoughts on engaging people from non-English speaking communities but Jo's comment on co-design a good start. Indeed far too often those who're disadvantaged can become invisible and disempowered. With technology at the cusp of integrating into not just our everyday lives but also ourselves, I'm wondering the ethics of it and the future of our workforce, perhaps a question for the presenters. Thank you once again for hosting this important webinar.
Yee Man Louie