As Australia’s leading telecommunications and information services company, we’re in a unique position to promote reconciliation.
We are committed to achieving positive educational, health and economic outcomes for Indigenous Australians and believe that by promoting diversity and inclusion we will enrich our communities, our workforce and the experience of our customers.
Telstra’s purpose is ‘to create a brilliant connected future for everyone’. Our vision for reconciliation is to see our purpose come to life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Through connection we can all create social, economic and cultural change and achieve a brilliant connected future for Australia.
Our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) aims to double the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees over the period, significantly expand our telehealth network in remote areas and introduce new programs in cyber safety and digital literacy.
There is also a significant commitment to infrastructure with a $30m infrastructure fund between Telstra and the NT Government for new mobile services and broadband to remote communities across the NT.
Telstra’s RAP has the highest rating – ‘Elevate’ – from Reconciliation Australia.
We are currently underway with a three year $30 million infrastructure roll-out across remote communities in the Northern Territory. This joint funding initiative with the NT Government follows a similar $5.76 million joint investment completed in 2014 which delivered mobile coverage to eight remote communities and fixed broadband services to six remote communities.
Other flagship programs include:
inDigiMOB: An on-the-ground digital literacy and cyber safety program in communities across the NT which also provides technical support in remote and high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population areas. This program directly addresses critical barriers to the take up and use of technology and is being delivered with our partner the Indigenous Remote Communications Association. Find out more about inDigiMOB here
Cyber Safety: In partnership with Swinburne University, we commissioned the first comprehensive Australian study on the prevalence, impacts and evaluation of the most effective strategies to tackle cyber-safety in remote Aboriginal communities and towns.
Tele-health: An extension of Telstra Health’s strategy to address healthcare access in rural and remote communities with an expansion of this program across the NT.
Indigenous customers who are looking for advice on appropriate, targeted and affordable Telstra products and services, or are experiencing communication difficulties can contact our Indigenous Communities Hotline on 1800 444 403 to be served by a dedicated, specially trained team.
We are committed to promoting digital excellence and innovation within Indigenous communities.
In 2013 we announced a new $5 million, multi-year partnership between the Telstra Foundation and the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) to create an Indigenous Digital Excellence Hub, where Tech Savvy Indigenous Australians will be provided with the training and resources to develop platforms, apps, programs and events to improve community wellbeing.
When it comes to digital excellence, we see great value in getting started early. Through our partnership with One Laptop Per Child Australia, 50,000 laptops are being distributed to disadvantaged schools, including many with a large Indigenous student population.
For the past 27 years we have been proud sponsors of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA), which recognise the important contribution made by Indigenous artists and promotes appreciation and understanding of the quality and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
Older members of the community can feel challenged by technology, and that’s no different in Indigenous communities. Tradition often dictates that elders in a community should be looked up to for wisdom, but that gets flipped where technological prowess is concerned. Our Tech Savvy Elders program allows the entire community to come together to learn, leaving nobody behind.
Telstra recognises Indigenous culture
When we set up our new start-up academy, muru-D, we wanted to give it a distinctive Aboriginal name that recognised its location on the traditional land of the Eora people.
In accordance with best practice cultural protocols, we worked closely with the Aboriginal community to seek consent for the new name. While Australian law doesn’t require consent for using an Indigenous word for a business, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples protects Aboriginal words as ‘traditional cultural expressions’.
We engaged Shane Phillips, Sydney Aboriginal community representative, to gain cultural consent for the Sydney Aboriginal Eora word ‘Muru’, meaning ‘path’, to name the new business ‘muru-D’ or ‘path to digital’. We also obtained support from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and consulted a language researcher to ensure we use the word appropriately in communications and promotions.
We also committed to support benefit-sharing to the wider Sydney Aboriginal community, in line with cultural protocol and as appreciation for the use of the word. We provided a $10,000 community grant to Tribal Warrior Association to support a language revitalisation project for Aboriginal children. The project will enhance Aboriginal and English literacy skills, improve technical skills through the use of tablet devices and enhance social connectedness.
We’ll renew the community grant every ten years to recognise our ongoing use of the word ‘Muru’.