In September 2015, the Swinburne Institute for Social Research commenced a two-year research project on safety and wellbeing as it relates to communication technologies, in remote Aboriginal communities and towns in the Northern Territory (NT). This report provides an overview of findings from the first phase of the project. A final report will be available in mid-2017.
Telstra is funding the project as an action within the ‘Connection and Capability’ priority focus area of their Reconciliation Action Plan 2015-18. The research has been initiated for the benefit of Indigenous people and is being conducted to inform Telstra’s strategy regarding cyber safety for this particular consumer group. It is also intended to inform social and community obligations related to Telstra’s recent partnership with the Northern Territory Government to extend mobile phone reception to remote areas, including Indigenous communities.
The first needs analysis phase of the project, conducted from September 2015 to June 2016, involved seeking feedback on these issues from a cross-section of Northern Territory Aboriginal people living in a regional centre, a larger community and a smaller settlement, with different histories of exposure to information and communication technology (ICT).
As described in this report, we found that there are particular mobile phone practices and internet uses occurring amongst remote Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory leading to identifiable cyber safety problems. Some of these practices, and the resulting issues, appear to be different to those experienced by other segments of the Australian population.