New ACCAN grants projects announced

[box border=”full”]People experiencing homelessness, Aboriginal youth and the Deaf community are among the consumers set to benefit from this year’s ACCAN grants scheme.[/box]

ACCAN’s grants scheme, now in its fifth year, awards over $250,000 to projects designed to help a diverse range of consumers. Previous years have seen teenagers helping seniors in their community to understand and use new technologies and the internet, as well as a project aimed at educating newly-arrived migrants and refugees on their telecommunications rights in Australia. This year, five projects have been awarded funding which focus on people experiencing homelessness, Aboriginal youth, communities affected by sudden and lengthy telecommunications failures, the Deaf community and people from low socioeconomic communities. The projects include:

Homeless and Connected: Mobile phones and mobile internet in the lives of families and young people experiencing homelessness

The University of Sydney’s Digital Cultures program will look into how people experiencing homelessness use their mobile phones and mobile internet. This is especially important as apps and internet access are going to be the primary means of contacting government departments in the future. The project will also recommend how to address gaps in existing communications policies and initiatives and put together some resources aimed at helping lower-socioeconomic and disadvantaged groups with their communications needs. Homelessness Australia is providing significant support to the project.

Aboriginal Young People in Regional Victoria and Digital Storytelling: Supporting digital literacy through a local community approach

The Research Unit in Public Cultures, part of the University of Melbourne, will aim to improve the educational outcomes and employment opportunities for Aboriginal youth through digital storytelling. A smartphone app will be designed to capture community stories in a digital form with the aim of improving digital literacy of Aboriginal communities through community storytelling and the preservation of culture.

What standards? The need for evidence-based Auslan translation standards and production guidelines

Auslan, or Australian sign language, is the first language for many Deaf Australians. Unfortunately, many of these Australians are not sufficiently bilingual to fully comprehend a lot of written information in English. The Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE is rectifying this issue by making important websites accessible through Auslan translations, as well as creating guidelines for translation production and introducing quality standards.

Digital Stories: Empowering Low SES Communities to Use the Internet for Services, Education and Empowerment

Southern Cross University’s Regional Initiative for Social Innovation and Research group is aiming to measure and understand the economic, social, and community impact of accessing and using broadband technologies. Baseline data sets will be produced on how the internet is used and on attitudes to the use of electronic communication. Psychological measures on resilience, including self-confidence, self-efficacy and sense of community, will also be used to understand the impact of the internet on personal and community wellbeing. An evidence-based strategic advice paper to inform future policy development will also be compiled.

Warrnambool Exchange Fire Consumer Impact Analysis

Following the Warrnambool Telephone Exchange Fire in November 2012, this project, conducted by RMIT University Hamilton, looks at what consumers, service providers and local government should do to prepare for such an event within a rural and regional setting. The fire resulted in the loss of telephone, internet and systems that rely on the telecommunications network, including health monitoring systems, for up to 20 days. This project analyses the impact of the fire by conducting focus groups, by gathering quantitative and qualitative data, and interviewing people affected. The project will inform future responses to “extreme events” which result in telecommunications network failures given the particular dependence on communications services in the modern world.

For more information on ACCAN’s grants scheme, please visit