Nonprofit organisation INCO has launched its First Australians Digitisation Fund, with support from Google.org, Google's philanthropic arm, to empower organisations using technology to redress inequities and improve access to areas of health, education and employment for First Nations communities.
INCO says technology has already changed how people connect, learn and work, a trend only accelerated by forced shifts online due to the pandemic. It says while post-COVID recovery discussions progress, nonprofits working with First Nations communities across Australia are taking the lead to create long-term tech solutions which ensure a sustainable and inclusive pandemic recovery for everyone.
INCO says to support the growth of technology tailored to the needs of First Nations communities, it identified four nonprofits with initiatives that demonstrate evidence of reducing structural and cultural inequities.
These nonprofits will share more than $750,000 in funding and will also have access to capacity-building workshops, ongoing mentorship from Google employees and technical expertise.
INCO country manager in Australia Fiona Madigan says while digital inclusion is slowly increasing across Australia, a stronger focus is needed on supporting and amplifying on-the-ground organisations working to bridge the digital divide for First Nations communities.
"This is why the First Australians Digitisation Fund is excited to provide support to our four chosen nonprofit organisations. Each has a tech solution that not only meets the needs of First Nations communities across Australia, but helps them to thrive, too," she says.
The four organisations are:
Based in New South Wales, IndigiTek is a community-designed, community-led robotics and technology education program. As an extension to Indigenous education, the program provides alternate learning models or flexible options for First Nations communities to help build digital skills and literacy and open up new job opportunities in STEM-related fields.
Based in Victoria, STARS Foundation is an online Alumni Engagement Platform to engage and inspire Indigenous girls. INCO says this will drive gender equity by enhancing the visibility of STARS Alumni to inspire the next generation of First Nations girls and youth and ensure a positive pathway through employment, further education or training.
Based in New South Wales, the KARI Foundation provides a mental health app co-designed with First Nations peoples and community groups. The culturally-appropriate app will use storytelling and in-app wellness indicators to guide access to support services and information to break down barriers and stigma of mental health in Aboriginal communities.
Based in Western Australia, the Clontark Foundation uses robotic process automation (RPA) to automate data entry within its Academies. The project will allow its mentors more time to develop and deliver activities focused on increasing First Nations participation and engagement in education geared towards positive employment outcomes as they scale towards supporting more than 16,000 Academy members by 2025.