Topics: Digital inclusion, House Of Representatives inquiry into online gambling
AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: I am really pleased to be here with Jess Wilson from the Good Things Foundation and Maryam Zahid from Afghan Women on the Move to talk about digital inclusion. We know that one in four Australians are digitally excluded and our Government is very much committed to addressing and ensuring that these Australians that have been excluded from the digital world are actually included and have the skills to participate. And we are also very pleased to have funded digital skills for those with intellectual disability particularly, young people, through the Good things Foundation to include them in the digital world as well. But of course today we have a further announcement of providing a $700,000 grant to the Good Things Foundation to deliver particular digital inclusion to recently arrived refugee and migrant women. We know that particularly recently arrived migrant women and of course refugees may not have the confidence or the digital skills to fully participate in the Australian community. It might be participating and supporting their students at school. It might be trying to get a job and so ensuring that work is done to remove the barriers is critically important. So we are very pleased to be partnering with Good Things Foundation along with other organisations on the ground to reach these women. The program for the one year pilot is expected to support 800 women to actually be connected and supported to get the skills and confidence to participate but also to look out for misinformation and scams. We know particularly those that don’t have English as a first language or those that have not been very confident and familiar with the online environment can be more susceptible to scams and other misinformation online, so this is a very important program and we are very pleased to be supporting it, and I’ll hand over to Jess to talk a bit more about it.
JESS WILSON, CEO GOODTHINGS FOUNDATION: Thank you Minister. Yes, we are also very excited to be working with our partners, Host International, another organisation that supports refugees and migrants to co-design a program to support women in the community. Because what we know is that it is really important to make sure that we are listening to the women who are telling us what kinds of things they need to learn. What kinds of things they want, how they might want to learn. Do they want to learn in groups? Or do they want individual programs? We are looking for 20 different organisations that we are going to provide some grant funding to, to work with us to design that program. And then to be able to have bilingual digital mentors that will support women in their community to build those skills that the Minister was talking about, around online safety, around how to use technology to apply for a job or to connect with your child at school. There’s a whole lot of reasons why we need to make sure that everyone has the digital skills and confidence that they need so we are really excited to be starting this new program, but mostly to be learning from women on the ground and making sure that the program is the most successful that it can be. Now I might hand over to Maryam who has got personal experience and has the opportunity to talk more about why this is important.
MARYAM ZAHID, AFGHAN WOMEN ON THE MOVE: Thank you Minister and thank you Jess for making us part of this program. For somebody like me that in the country that I am coming from where women can get killed, beaten and humiliated just because they are visible, they have a voice and they have used social media to be seen. To challenge those perceptions, not just back home but also here in Australia. For multicultural women to have confidence, skills to be able to not just use social media but know how to use it to benefit their lives. I will be more interested to use this platform and these tools to make sure that they have access to employment opportunities. Back home I remember there is a lot of women, they had no choice, if they wanted to make some money they would have brought their carpet put it in front of their doorstep. They could have sold stuff, homemade cookies, dishes and handmade jewellery. Here they cannot do that in Australia. So what we are going to do, we are going to take their backyard to social platforms that can equip them with those opportunities to be more financially stable and also that can prevent them from so much other isolation in the communities. Especially in the prevention of family and domestic violence and other attacks that keep women isolated in the community. So I am so looking forward to being part of these projects and I am hoping that we can tell lots of good stories through this project.
JOURNALIST: Minister, I’ve just got some questions on the gambling ads. Will you commit to a phased ban on gambling ads as recommended?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well I am really pleased and thank the Committee for the work that they have done in looking at reducing gambling harm. Our Government is very much committed to looking at reducing the harm of online gambling. We have already taken a number of steps just in our first 12 months. We have introduced activity statements so that people know every month how much they are losing. We have introduced better, more evidenced-based taglines. Instead of ‘Gambling Responsibly’ taglines such as ‘You win some, you lose more’, that’s been a significant change. We have also seen our commitment to ban credit card use for online gambling along with training for staff and also of course our Bet Stop self- exclusion register we have been working very hard on. Our Government has already taken significant steps to minimise harm. In terms of this committee’s report, we will obviously have a careful look at all the recommendations and the findings, but my commitment is that I am very keen to work with states and territories to look at what we can do to minimise harm when it comes to online gambling.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned the recommendations. The Committee has recommended a staged approach starting urgently with a ban on ads for online gambling on social media and online. Will the Government enact that immediately?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: We will, as I have said, digest the recommendations, consider all the recommendations and look at what we can implement. Of course, as I have said we have already implemented a significant number of measures. For example, the ban of credit cards when it comes to online wagering. People shouldn’t be gambling with money they don’t have and the ban on credit cards will bring online wagering into line with land based wagering. In terms of the recommendations, the government will work through them in an orderly fashion, as we do with many of these reports and we will have a government response.
JOURNALIST: Do you agree with the Committee that online wagering services should pay a levy to help fund a national harm reduction strategy?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: Our focus is on what can be done to reduce harm from online gambling and that is why for example we were very committed to bringing in the new taglines that you will now see on ads. This is a significant change, because the previous taglines were taglines that were without evidence that they reduced harm. Our new taglines are backed up by evidence, they rotate to keep them fresh and of course have messages that actually get people to think twice. And obviously significantly for people who have had a lot of losses it’s an important reminder that this could be having a significant impact on them is critically important. We’ve already shown our commitment to harm minimisation but going forward I have committed to working with my states and territory counterparts on what is next when it comes to reducing harm when it comes to online gambling.
JOURNALIST: What issues do you see with the report suggesting we should have the same laws across Australia, which should be overseen by the Federal Government not states?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: I’ve been working very closely with my state and territory counterparts. I convened this year the first meeting of my state and territory counterparts since 2017. I think across the board there’s a desire to work together. This is regulated across state and territories as well as the Commonwealth. In many areas there is a role for cooperation, but I have been incredibly heartened by the desire to work together from my state and territory counterparts and I look forward to continuing to do that.
JOURNALIST: Given there is bipartisan support from the committee; is there any reason not to push through all recommendations?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: We’ve got to consider of course, all recommendations in the context of the Budget and a range of other factors and we will continue to do that. But I would re-emphasise that our Government already has a track record on being committed to reducing harm when it comes to online wagering. I’ve already, as I said, been talking to the State and Territory Ministers on finishing the Consumer Framework that has been in place and a discussion on what comes next to reduce harm for people when it comes to online gambling.