Technology for social justice

Taking over the reins as CEO

By Peter Walton

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It is with great pleasure that I introduce myself as the new CEO of Infoxchange. Being offered a role which enables me to contribute to social equality and opportunity through the access to and use of information technology is not only a privilege but also a tremendous challenge.

I have spent over twenty years working in some of the world’s most impoverished areas, responding to issues of deprivation, exclusion and vulnerability, and whilst the manifestation of disadvantage can often look similar in many regions (including here in Australia), society is finding new and varied solutions that assist in responding to both old and emerging challenges. Technology is often at the heart of this.

I have been fortunate to have seen how participation in the digital economy, for example, can have a transformative impact on the effectiveness of community service organisations and, most importantly, on the lives of individuals. In today’s information age digital inclusion has become a critical component of social inclusion – an essential requirement for any fair and just society.

As is the case all around the world, however, the lack of access to digital technology (and the benefits it can provide) is most strongly felt in communities of socio-economic disadvantage – low-income families, refugees and asylum seekers, those with disabilities, among many others. In other words, many of the groups that readers of this Infocast seek to support.

This week we have seen the announcement that the National Broadband Network will invest in satellites to connect some of Australia’s most remote households. Digital inclusion, however is clearly not just about internet availability and the ‘excluded’ are more often than not excluded because of circumstances beyond location.

Digital inclusion involves accessibility and affordability, with the latter being a particularly obstinate barrier for some, based on the predicted price points of the NBN. Of course, technology can help the disadvantaged find a job, a bed, a meal or an essential community service, but only if one has access and the digital proficiency to use the technology in the first place.

Infoxchange is leading the push to ensure that disadvantaged sections of the Australian community can overcome the barriers to participating in the digital economy. Narrowing the digital divide will contribute to improvements in life quality, the creation of economic opportunity, and the facilitation of lifelong learning and civic participation.

In a fair and just society access to new technologies should be available to all regardless of background, income, ability or location. I certainly look forward building upon the legacy of achievement of my predecessor, Andrew Mahar, and to playing my part in narrowing the divide.

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Filed in: Media releases , About Infoxchange | Tagged as: CEO

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