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Technology and Victorians facing economic disadvantage

Technology and Victorians facing economic disadvantage

Technology is the panacea for our times. It is changing almost every element of public life but is it benefitting all Victorians? Our sources tell us that those best placed to benefit might need the least help so, how do we ensure nobody is left behind? We called on agents from government and the private sector to consider the question and report in. 


1 in 3 low income households have no internet access.


The poorest Victorians have an ADII of 42.5, 17.7 below the AU average.

ADII is a digital inclusion score based on access, affordability and ability.

Asking better questions

Too often those that can address a problem are oceans apart. We decided to hold an experiment and bring them together. We wanted to answer the question: what would happen if those who represent the greatest number of people and those with the greatest ideas to help people worked together on a problem? We removed their identity, their expectations and asked them to focus on the problem and how we might think better about it.

All agents completed a Field Report with their knowledge of how governments and startups work and work together. They then completed a Mind Swap to create empathy with the other on how they work. Finally agents were divided in to two teams to address the relationship between Victorians and technology. Stimulus for the final sessions include recent reports, data and stories from Victorians on the topic.

“New technologies benefit some and disadvantage others through complex causation, affecting employment, health, wealth, and happiness differently.”
— Agent Beagle

The evidence

On a national scale, Access is relatively strong while Digital Ability is relatively weak. Affordability may cause particular concern in the case of digitally excluded groups. There is scope for improvement across all three dimensions of the ADII, but Digital Ability appears to present the greatest opportunity for an investment of effort and resources.

There is no simple relationship between attitudes and technology. Attitudes to technology cannot be meaningfully understood in isolation from the social situation in which technology is being used. The technology, the user, the social structure, the environment, all play a role in how technology is developed, experienced and modified.

The kicker in these figures is that as more and more Australians are online, the disadvantage of being offline grows. So as the divide narrrows, it gets deeper. Meanwhile, teachers assume their students have unrestricted access to the internet and set homework accordingly; businesses assume their customers are internet users and shape their offerings online; and governments shift resources to digital provision of information and opportunities to interact.

“When you’re dealing with people who are going through traumatic experiences you need to look at solving problems within that context.”
— Agent Sierra

Team observations

The two teams shared some similar observations but a common thread emerged that access to technology was not the simple solution. Instead a playful attitude, learning, permission and precedent were all considerations for better uptake, use and results from technology for Victorians. We considered the question: How can we work together to overcome the challenges of technology and disadvantage? Notes from the session included:

  • Many of us are not encouraged to play, fail and learn from technology at a young age. How do we fix this?

  • It’s too late to involve technology when people are expected to derive economic benefit from it.

  • Big ideas for technology use need to be nurtured and examples given. It must be fostered.

  • Both governments and startups by themselves don’t know the right questions to ask.

  • Government needs more flexibility to partner with startups.

  • People experiencing disadvantage need to be involved early.


What could be done

How can we better work together then? The mission concluded with agents putting their heads together to discuss ways forward. Post mission interviews one-to-one also provided insight into better collaboration. The recording devices picked up:

  • We are too quick to judge people and organisations. Let’s see what they can do.

  • There’s a lot of enthusiasm in the startup space to help Victorians facing economic disadvantage…and government are interested.

  • We need to foster better connections.

  • There are not honest enough conversations between the two.

  • We need to educate each other about the other.

  • After tonight I’m going to put out some feelers and talk to people.

  • Startups need a foot in the door to be able to educate government on their value and speak to government priorities and concerns for its citizens.

“If we’re looking at how we assist disconnected communities, and people who have really high barriers to everything they need in life, I don’t know that tech is always the answer”
— Agent Pontiac

Future Missions

Could we create better government projects on technology and disadvantaged Victorians by…

  • Creating a community panel with those impacted by work in this space to consult government.

  • Encouraging play and tinkering with technology from a young age at pre-school or primary school (and involve parents and family).

  • Involving community members in project and tender design.

  • Bringing government and startups together at project and tender design.

  • Designing pilot programs with diverse solutions prior to large scale investment in The One.


Mission Team



Works at a tech startup solving how people and brands work together in bigger and better ways.



Has a story-telling enterprise to help people better explain their world to others.


Has a startup changing how we identify ourselves to others using technology.



Is inside government finding better ways for people to access information and work together.



Works from within government to provide better education outcomes for all Victorians.



Is solving how people experience the law through government.


Internal Operatives



Finding the best in everyone who steps forward and helping apply it.



Operative working to design better solutions for government and startups.


Searching for consensus among those that can bring the most change.



Coordinating startups and government for the betterment of civilisation.


Documenting and analysing our progress as a service for others.



Surfacing the best thinking by entrepreneurs and civil servants in the room.

Technology and the political process in Australia

Technology and the political process in Australia