NSLA and ALIA submitted a joint response to the National Indigenous Australians Agency Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan discussion paper.
We support equality of access to the benefits arising from our increasingly digital society, and view libraries as having an important role in bridging the gap for those who don’t have the skills, knowledge, money, devices or high speed connection to be regular and confident users of the internet.
Much more could be achieved by federal government working with the national public library network and providing targeted investment in connectivity, a new funding stream for digital programs and services and skills training for staff working in remote library locations.
Libraries already provide digital technology hubs in communities – it’s part of our core business. However, connectivity and bandwidth issues and the need for ongoing training for staff are barriers to realising the full potential of libraries as digital centres in regional and remote Australia.
Public libraries’ success with the Be Connected program and the Australian Digital Health Agency partnership demonstrates how much can be achieved by activating the library network. However, this is the extent of libraries’ involvement in the federal government Digital Economy Strategy to date.
We ask the NIAA to reference the role and value of the public library network in its report and to encourage federal government, telecommunications industry actors and other stakeholders to approach libraries, through councils, as key delivery partners in new initiatives in this space – particularly in regional and remote locations where there remains a significant digital divide putting Indigenous Australians at a significant disadvantage.
The full submission is available for download below.