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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are under-serviced by digital technologies, with indigenous Australians being 69% less likely than non-indigenous people to have any Internet connection and are about half as likely to have broadband access. This 'digital divide' contributes to and reinforces educational, income, employment and geographical disadvantage. While uneven access remains a particular problem for rural and remote Aboriginal communities, digital technology also provides a way of overcoming Indigenous social disadvantage.
This project examines how to foster provision of culturally relevant information to Indigenous communities enabled by broadband connectivity. The research focuses upon the network of 70 touch screen kiosks installed at key community locations in remote, regional and urban communities operated by HITnet. The HITnet network is designed to address 'information disadvantage' by using IT to improve and maintain community connectedness, digital development and digital social inclusion.
Content for the information kiosks focuses on a range of critical Indigenous health issues including sexual health, cancer, mental health and nutrition. The kiosks provide a gateway to tailor-made interactive content for low literacy and inexperienced technology users with the program attracting over 100,000 users in 2012.
Currently, the kiosks face bandwidth constraints. Higher bandwidth made available via broadband creates the potential to increase community participation in content creation, including the local upload of rich media content such as video.
This research project aims to assess current user practice around the kiosks to consider what features contribute to a successful interaction, such as physical placement, digital literacy and the relevance of the content. Linked to this is how the kiosks can be adapted to meet the evolving and diverse needs of Indigenous people, particularly, the potential for a transition from kiosk as information delivery system to digital community hub enabling new possibilities for local community co-creation/co-management of content.