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Digital Inclusion

Enabling digital participation, inclusion and literacy in an increasingly digital economy.

The Digital Inclusion program aims to widen digital participation, build equity and inclusion in the digital economy. This program enables us to measure the impact of technologies at an individual, organisational and government level.

Jointly led by Associate Professor Anthony McCosker and Professor Katherine Albury, the Digital Inclusion program is focusing on:

  • Marginalised groups and the digitally disconnected;
  • The services, programs and interventions that seek to support them.

This is because digital technologies are ubiquitous and almost all social services are provided online. It is therefore critical that all societal groups have access to technology, connectivity and have the digital and data literacy skills to participate equally.


Current projects 

Projects within Digital Inclusion that are currently underway:

Mapping humanitarian action (with Australian Red Cross)

Every day, people undertake many kinds of voluntary service and humanitarian action. This might involve fundraising and charity work, giving time, helping or inspiring others, or promoting causes. However, because so much of the research on volunteering and humanitarian action focuses on formal activities along with large-scale campaigns and global crisis events - we know very little about what people are doing informally and in their local community.

Humanitarianism is changing with the digital age and with new modes of networked communication and interaction. Working hand in hand with the Australian Red Cross, and using Instagram as a novel data source, the research carried out in this project offers new insights into the way people engage with humanitarian activities in their local contexts and everyday lives.

Our SoDA Lab worked on this project to develop a typology of humanitarian action and mapping the typology to situations and settings across Victoria and Melbourne.

Social Outcomes of Policy - Helpful Intelligence and Analytics (SOPHIA)

Project SOPHIA is an exploratory study that seeks to understand Family Violence outcomes in Victoria and aligns with the Victorian Government’s Ending Family Violence 10 Year Plan.

Using novel data analytical techniques, we sought to explore public attitudes towards family violence online and to correlate these to changes in public policy over time. With significant international social media movements such as #MeToo growing in recent years, researchers are increasingly interested in utilising novel data analytics techniques to develop a richer understanding of family violence discourse in the digital sphere.

Working closely with the SoDA Lab, this study has developed a richer understanding of attitudes towards family violence in Victoria, with the hope that gathered insights will inform future policy and campaign work.


Image of elderly lady with her hands together.Project OPERA: Addressing Elder Abuse through Digital Stories

The issue of elder abuse is not well understood by the general public and continues to be underreported as a form of family violence in Australia. The major issues facing policy makers and service providers engaged in this space are firstly, the lack of evidence about the social drivers of elder abuse, and secondly, the lack of evaluated primary prevention strategies.

Our researchers, led by Dr Diana Bossio, partnered with Eastern Community Legal Centre to produce an innovative digital intervention into preventing elder abuse by disrupting negative stereotypes around ageing. The two-phase OPERA (Older People: Equity, Respect & Ageing) Project focused on understanding firstly, how ageism is perceived and experienced by older people and secondly, how that evidence can be used to frame co-designed digital storytelling about positive community experiences of ageing.


S‌afety, Risk and Wellbeing on Dating Apps

Led by Professor Kath Albury, this project was an Australian Research Council Linkage partnership with ACON Health, Family Planning NSW and the University of Sydney.

While dating and hook-ups apps may be a 'novel' technology within some health promotion and sexual health education settings, they are viewed as 'ordinary' technologies by their users. App users have much to offer to both researchers and health professionals, in terms of sharing both their expertise and experiences - including established strategies for negotiating safety and risk when dating and hooking up.

This mixed-methods study offers new insights into the role that dating and hook-up apps play in everyday negotiations of consent, condom use, contraception, and other aspects of sexual health, mental health and wellbeing. The project reports offer insights into key findings, including recommendations for professionals seeking to engage with young people.

Completed projects


60+ Online: Engaging seniors through social media and digital stories.

Many older Australians are embracing digital technologies for health and social life. But many people still have limited understanding and access. Our researchers, led by Associate Professor Anthony McCosker, partnered with TelstraCity of Boroondara and Knox City Council to engage with older people to learn in ways they like.

The 60+ Online project developed ways to improve and sustain seniors’ use of digital technologies. It used problem-based, creative digital storytelling and social media workshops. Participants interacted on a closed Facebook group, where they learned, safely, how to manage social accounts and experiment. Project participants reported enhanced social connectedness and interaction through digital channels with community groups and health services.

Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement in Disability Services

Indigenous Australians are at substantially higher risk of experiencing a disability or restrictive long-term health condition compared to non-Indigenous Australians. Yooralla disability services has partnered with the Social Innovation Research Institute to discover how they can more effectively and respectfully engage and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living with a disability.

This Indigenous-led multidisciplinary team, working with the First Peoples Disability Network, aims to gain a better understanding of the barriers to accessing disability services experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and positively support the efforts of disability service providers and advocacy groups who empower and support Indigenous Australinans living with disability.

Co-designing a Peer Support Platform for People with Low Vision and Blindness

Guide Dogs Australia worked with DXC Technology to find innovative ways to increase independence and community participation, and help people living with disability to have individual capacity to lead ordinary lives.

A community survey established people with low vision and blindness face persistent challenges in accessing digital information, venues and transport as well as overcoming isolation and managing social connections. The prototype Peer Support Platform seeks to address these challenges to accessing information and communication by enabling members of this growing community to gain access to reliable and high-quality information and participate in events, activities and social gatherings.

The prototype platform was designed to provide people with low vision and blindness up-to-date, relevant and quality information on social groups and opportunities and aims to promote collaboration and partnerships among government and local communities to increase inclusivity and accessibility of people with disability.

Contact the Social Innovation Research Institute

There are many ways to engage with us. If your organisation is dealing with a complex problem, then get in touch to discuss how we can work together to provide solutions.

Call +61 (03) 9214 8180