31 May 2016: Education, employment and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could be improved through increased engagement online, the University of Canberra's Dean of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership and Strategy and Professor of Information Technology argued at the annual Don Aitkin lecture.
Professor Peter Radoll used his presentation to challenge the idea that the Internet is a platform that transcends culture, suggesting that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders face barriers to their online engagement.
"More than one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can't access an Internet connection at home, compared to just one in ten among the non-Indigenous community," he said.
Professor Radoll added that in remote communities, the figures are even starker, with less than 40 per cent of homes having an Internet connection, with cost and accessibility the main challenges.
"These figures are concerning because the Indigenous community could achieve great things through increased engagement through the online world, including closing the gap in education, employment and health outcomes," he said.
"Being able to access education providers online ensures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are competing on a level playing field for jobs, and education and employment remain some of the most critical social determinants of good health.
"We need to address affordability and digital inclusion more broadly and then establish that the Internet fits into our culture and that we can have a presence on the web as well.
"When we see ourselves [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders] reflected online then you'll see more people engaging with the technology and then beginning to reap these rewards," he said.
The Don Aitkin Lecture series is delivered annually by a prominent Australian or international scholar bringing to bear their research and insights on major contemporary social, scientific and cultural issues.