DHIVE: Reshaping innovation through inclusion

In July, as part of APS Innovation Month, the innovationXchange at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was proud to support DHIVE to present to DFAT and other APS staff about its mission and its experiences to date. The digital divide is an important challenge in the Pacific, and the innovationXchange was keen to learn how this problem is being tackled in remote communities and regional parts of Australia to help inform our development efforts in the Pacific as we look at how technology and social businesses can have real impact on communities.

Julie-Ann Lambourne & Leigh Harris – Co-Founders of DHIVE

Early in my career I was taught that the four main priority areas required to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are Health, Housing, Education and Employment. Twenty years on, these factors remain key indicators to bringing about an increase in the life expectancy of First Australians. However, in today’s digitally connected society, an imperative addition to these is digital inclusion and economic empowerment.

It is a well-known fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders remain Australia’s most digitally disconnected and disadvantaged groups in Australia.

More than 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, organisations and individuals do not have a clear understanding of what the new growing digital, technological, innovation and startup economies could offer their communities or organisations.

These disadvantaged and disconnected groups are also the least likely to be engaged in the digital economy, technology and the startup ecosystems in regional and remote areas throughout Australia.

Today’s innovation economy provides an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, refugees, new migrants and people with a disability to harness the digital economy, as well as technology innovation and startup eco-systems to improve lives by building opportunities and connectivity.

These eco-systems offer much for regional and remote Queenslanders. Importantly, they can build geographical bridges between people from disadvantaged backgrounds, which may provide them with the opportunities to become change-makers.

Global innovations such as new solar technology, 3D printing technology and Internet of Things (IoT) can also play an important role in improving the quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but still many are being left out of the discussion or are unaware of the benefits that new technology can bring our communities.

In an effort to advocate and actively reshape digital innovation and inclusion we established DHIVE, an Indigenous led inclusion and innovation incubator that aims to reverse the discussion.

Elijah Ibell, DHIVE Community Activator working with elder at DHIVE.

As an Australian first DHIVE aims to inform, raise awareness and open a discussion about digital inclusion, innovation and startups.

We strongly believe that to bring about change we need to look outside of the Black Box which sometimes constrains us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and look towards building solutions which are more globally connected.

We need to bring solutions in collaboration with other disadvantaged and disconnected groups which impact and improve the lives of all groups.

Many of the ideations of digital and technological innovation focus on coding, robotics and startup weekends. At DHIVE we are changing that ideation and concentrating on digital inclusion and literacy as a first point of focus.

Rather than a creator’s approach, DHIVE takes the lead to educate, inspire and create. We improve the understanding of the opportunities that innovation can bring disconnected and disadvantaged groups and raise levels of digital literacy as a first step.

DHIVE has raised many eyebrows for its vision and objectives, and many have identified the concept as an innovation in itself. Importantly, many have seen what we are doing in our efforts to reshape the digital, innovation and startup eco-systems as a revival in opportunities and impact growth for those that are disadvantaged and disconnected.

DHIVE is in no way a simple approach to talking about innovation but a much more sustainable one that is led by grass roots innovation which begins with inclusion.

Our recent trip to Canberra – activated by the innovationXchange – was a much welcomed show of appreciation of the work that we are doing with DHIVE and as individuals. The trip also afforded us the time to collaborate with others to discuss our plans for DHIVE in Far North Queensland, now and into the future.

In November, we are holding an event called unleash.D in Cairns. unleash.D will open the discussion further and activate digital inclusion and innovation for disadvantaged groups, seeking to unleash the potential that it can bring.

unleash.D is a place to imagine the future and discuss, a place to learn from world-changing innovators, futurists, inspired thinkers and an interactive community of activators. We invite you to attend our Conferences, Master Classes, Deep Conversations, pitch tables, performances, and other special events and discover the strategies and techniques for digital leadership and innovation for Australia’s most disadvantaged groups.

About the authors:

Leigh Harris and Julie-Ann Lambourne are the co-founders of DHIVE, an Indigenous-led digital inclusion and innovation incubator based in Cairns which aims to ‘reshape innovation through inclusion and startups’.

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