Page 773 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 5 April 2022

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However, there is still a divide for those who may not have ready access to the internet in their home, and access to the internet is pretty integral to educational and social connectivity in this era. Without the internet, you are often less socially connected, and it is nearly impossible to undertake education and extremely difficult to find a job. In short, we live in a digital era.

I commend my motion to the Assembly and look forward to the subsequent work on reimagining our libraries and building digital equity and equality into them.

MR BRADDOCK (Yerrabi) (4.19): To quote R David Lankes:

Bad Libraries build collections. Good libraries build services (of which a collection is only one). Great libraries build Communities.

The Greens believe that everyone should have equitable access to digital communications to ensure full participation in community life.

This motion asks the government to make improving digital access inclusion a priority through the Imagine 2030 libraries co-design process. Technological breakthroughs have brought countless benefits to communities in connection, in education, in improved productivity and in efficiency. But there has also been considerable damage to society wrought in the name of digital disruption and development, particularly for our most vulnerable. The effects of digital inequality are apparent, even in an affluent city like Canberra, in the divides between different demographics. Therefore, we need to work on bridging inequities that have arisen because of technological advances to ensure no digitally excluded social groups are left behind.

I must applaud the work of the University of Canberra research cluster for digital inequality and social change who—in fact, this week—hosted the first international symposium on digital inequality and social change, with the theme “Bridging digital inequality for a better, more inclusive society”. Whilst the ACT scores better on average than the rest of Australia on digital inequality, we need to recognise and support those sections of the community who are on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Online spaces are very important for many parts of our community, for example neurodivergent people and people with access and transport difficulties. The online space can provide spaces that are safe and inclusive for these groups. Jee Young Lee, a PhD graduate from the University of Canberra, researched the experiences of disconnected Canberrans. They discovered that digital inclusion needs ongoing support and encouragement. This means not only the means to connect, but the people to show you how and to stand beside you through your learning journey. It means creating communities of practice and welcoming places where people feel safe to ask questions and find out what they need to know.

Representation problems in the public space also cost a lot of money and take a long time to fix; whereas representation in the digital space can be fixed much more

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