Albanese Government establishes First Nations Digital Inclusion Advisory Group

The Albanese Government has today announced the establishment of the First Nations Digital Inclusion Advisory Group to accelerate progress towards closing the digital inclusion gap for First Nations Australians.

Convening for the first time today in Adelaide, the Advisory Group will work closely with First Nations people to provide advice to Government and identify practical measures to support progress towards Target 17 of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The Group was funded in the October 2022-23 Federal Budget.

Target 17 commits to equal levels of digital inclusion for First Nations people by 2026, but progress to date has been held back by the lack of a truly collaborative and holistic approach. Importantly, the Group will ensure a comprehensive focus across telecommunications, broadcasting and media, and will consider all three aspects of digital inclusion: access, affordability and ability.

Achieving equal levels of digital inclusion is critical for First Nations Australians given the fundamental importance of connectivity for economic and social opportunities. Digital inclusion is critical for employment, social connectedness, and to access online services including financial services, telehealth and education.

The Group will be chaired by Ms Dorothy West OAM, who has extensive experience across the media and broadcasting sectors, and is a strong advocate for digital inclusion for First Nations people. Ms West is a Noongar woman from the south west of Western Australia and served as a member of the SBS Board from 2012 until 2022. Other Advisory Group members are:

  • Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker, an expert in First Nations digital inclusion, cultural heritage and on-country learning;
  • Professor Bronwyn Carlson, an expert in First Nations social media use and online safety;
  • Ms Talei Elu, a community advocate for digital inclusion and member of the Queensland Government First Nations Consultative Committee;
  • Ms Naomi Moran, Chair of First Nations Media Australia (FNMA) and General Manager of Koori Mail Newspaper.  

The Group’s work will complement broader efforts across government, industry and the not-for-profit sector to support digital inclusion, such as recognition of First Nations stories as a central pillar of the National Cultural Policy. The Group will also consider the outcomes of the First Nation Digital Inclusion Roundtable, hosted by Minister Rowland on 16 December 2022 and attended by First Nations people, industry and the not-for-profit sector, as it develops its advice to Government.

The establishment of a First Nations Digital Inclusion Advisory Group is part of the Albanese’s Government’s substantial increase in investment in regional, rural and remote communications initiatives, with $2.2 billion investment in regional communications over the next five years to increase connectivity and bridge the digital divide. The Advisory Group also finally delivers an important recommendation of the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review to ensure a focused and consultative approach to Indigenous digital inclusion.

For more information on the Advisory Group, visit here. Contributions to the work of the group are welcome and can be sent to FirstNationsDigitalInclusion@infrastructure.gov.au.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:

“Boosting digital inclusion is a key focus of the Albanese Government – especially when it comes to supporting greater connectivity for First Nations Australians. In an increasingly digital world, digital inclusion is more than just a nice to have, it’s a necessity.

“The creation of the First Nations Digital Inclusion Advisory Group recognises that more needs to be done to ensure all Australians can take advantage of the benefits of the digital world. The Group will provide practical advice to Government on how to address significant barriers to digital inclusion for First Nations Australians, particularly in remote areas.

“The collective experience and expertise of Advisory Group members gives us a great opportunity to deliver real change. I am very pleased that Dot West has agreed to Chair the group, and with the breadth and depth of experience and perspectives the members bring to the table. Through the Advisory Group the Government looks forward to working in true partnership with First Nations Australians to boost digital inclusion.”