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Good Things Foundation Australia’s fifth anniversary: As it happened

Catch up on the panel and celebrations from Good Things Foundation Australia’s fifth anniversary celebration.
Image of panellists at Good Things Foundation Australia's fifth anniversary event.
Pictured (left to right): Vishy Narayanan (PwC Asia Pacific), Jo Cavanagh (Good Things Foundation Australia), Helen Milner OBE (Good Things Foundation), Jess Wilson (Good Things Foundation Australia), Philomena Oborn, Dr Sabrin Farooqui (Cultural Diversity Network Inc.) and Marlon De Leon (Filipino Community Council of Victoria Incorporated).

Good Things Foundation Australia recently celebrated five years of working towards closing the digital divide and creating a world where everyone benefits from digital. Since beginning in 2017, we’ve built and worked with our Network of now 3,700+ Network Partners to reach more than 1 million Australians with essential digital skills and support.

During our celebration event on 28 July, a fantastic panel of digital change makers talked about what’s been achieved over the past five years and what more there is to do to ensure Australia becomes a fully digitally-included country.

You can access a replay video and read a summary of the day’s proceedings below.

Watch the replay

Watch a video recording of the panel event on-demand. Enter your email after clicking the link to get started.

 

Welcome to Country

Michael West from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council welcomes us to Gadigal Country and shares his personal insights on the importance of digital inclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Reflecting on five years of making Good Things happen

Jess presenting the opening address.

In the opening address, our CEO Jess Wilson shares the amazing journey and impact Good Things Foundation has made over the past five years in Australia. Jess  thanks our partners and funders, wonderful Network of community organisations, and all of the people who have found the courage to learn something new through our digital inclusion programs. A congratulatory video message from Liz Williams MBE, Group Board Chair of Good Things Foundation, is also played.

Open for discussion

Kicking off the panel discussion, Jess introduces our panel of digital inclusion change makers, including:

  • Dennis Stokes – CEO, First Nations Media Australia
  • Vishy Narayanan – Chief Digital Information Officer, PwC Asia Pacific
  • Dr Sabrin Farooqui – President, Cultural Diversity Network Inc.
  • Helen Milner OBE – Group CEO, Good Things Foundation
  • Jo Cavanagh (closing remarks) – Board Chair, Good Things Foundation Australia
  • Jess Wilson – CEO, Good Things Foundation Australia
  • Philomena Oborn – Be Connected participant, St George Careers Development Centre

Sharing Australian experiences and expertise

The panel kicks off with the digital skills journey of Philomena, a Be Connected learner at Network Partner St George Careers Development Centre. Philomena speaks about how she became a “professional beginner” at 81 years of age, learning how to use technology to stay in touch with loved ones both here and overseas, as well as connecting remotely with the medical team who care for her son in QLD.

Next up, Dr Sabrin Farooqui, Digital Mentor and President at Network Partner Cultural Diversity Network Incorporated, talks about the importance of community-led digital inclusion programs. She says this is particularly important for people from culturally and linguistically-diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who are at greater risk of social isolation without the vital digital connections that technology can bring.

Dennis joins the panel discussion remotely.

Joining the panel remotely, Dennis highlights just how vital internet access is for First Nations peoples — especially those living in remote parts of Australia where access, affordability and the delivery of online services and support can be a lifeline for communities.

Applying global perspectives to Australia’s digital divide

Helen, Good Things Foundation Group CEO, is based in the UK and shares a global perspective on the enormity of the digital divide issue, saying more than 3.7 billion people on the planet are currently digitally excluded.

“It’s not a minority issue. There are actually billions of people who can benefit from the internet”. – Helen Milner (Group CEO, Good Things Foundation Australia)

Businesses critical to digital divide

Vishy shares how critical affordable access is for businesses, too. Vishy highlights the rapid digitisation of businesses during the pandemic and gives insights into the role that corporations, governments and partners can play in supporting charities and community based, volunteer organisations to amplify their impact.

Action needed for affordable access and digital skills

The panel session closes out with a question to all our panellists: “If you could influence a minister about digital inclusion, what is the one thing you would say is really important to change?”.

Philomena says access — to both devices and digital skills help — needs to be affordable and easy. Helen conurs, saying we need to expand digital skills like Be Connected support initiatives to all ages.

Sabrin and Dennis advocate for the power of community-led action. Sabrin says there needs to be an increase in budgets on a community level, while Dennis emphasises the need to listen to communities and put what they say into action.

Wrapping up

Finally, Jo Cavanagh, Good Things Foundation’s Board Chair, wraps up the session reminding us just how important digital technology is in keeping family and friends connected. “It’s not a nice to have, it’s a have to have” say says, especially for people trying to find ways to thrive in current times.


It’s been a great five years supporting our Network to make a difference in their communities, and we look forward to continuing to build partnerships, advocate, and mobilise action to close Australia’s digital divide for all, for good.

Thank you to PwC Australia, Corporate Technology Services (CTV) AV services, and GlobalMeet for their support running this event.

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