Led by Associate Professor Anthony McCosker and Professor Katherine Albury, this program aims to widen digital participation and build equity and inclusion in the digital economy by measuring the impact of technologies at an individual, organisational and government level. We focus on marginalised groups and the digitally disconnected as well as the services, programs and interventions that seek to support them. We create and use innovative research tools and methods to foster data-driven solutions to promote participation in digital society.  

As digital technologies are ubiquitous and almost all social services are provided online; it is, therefore, critical that all groups in society have access to technology and connectivity, as well as possessing the digital and data literacy skills to participate equally. 

Current projects and partnerships

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

Using data analytical techniques, we're exploring public attitudes towards family violence online and correlating 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 using data analytics techniques to develop a richer understanding of family violence discourse in the digital sphere. 

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

Read our 'Community Responses to Family Violence' report on the APO website

In partnership with Eastern Community Legal Centre, our researchers are producing an innovative digital intervention into preventing elder abuse by disrupting negative stereotypes around ageing. The two-phase OPERA (Older People: Equity, Respect and Ageing) Project focuses on understanding how ageism is perceived and experienced by older people, and how that evidence can be used to frame co-designed digital storytelling about positive community experiences of ageing. 

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 are the lack of evidence about the social drivers of elder abuse and the lack of evaluated primary prevention strategies. 

Read our report on the community consultation (‘Older People: Equity, Respect & Ageing (OPERA) — phase 1 findings’) on the APO website

Read our report ‘Community co-design of digital interventions for primary prevention of ageism and elder abuse’ on the APO website

This project is an Australian Research Council Linkage Project with ACON Health, Family Planning NSW and the University of Sydney

While dating and hook-up 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 researchers and health professionals, such as sharing their expertise and experiences, including established strategies for negotiating safety and risk when dating and hooking up.  

Our 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 reports offer insights into key findings, including recommendations for professionals seeking to engage with young people. 

Read our report ‘Safety, risk and wellbeing on dating apps: final report’ on the APO website

Read our article ‘Right-swipes and red flags – how young people negotiate sex and safety on dating apps’ on The Conversation

Completed projects and partnerships

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 that 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. Our prototype Peer Support Platform seeks to address these challenges 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 also aims to promote collaboration and partnerships among government and local communities to increase inclusivity and accessibility of people with disability. 

Read our report ‘Co-designing a peer support platform for people with low vision and blindness’ on the APO website

Working with the Australian Red Cross and using Instagram as a data source, this project offers new insights into the way people engage with humanitarian activities in their local contexts and everyday lives. 

Humanitarianism is changing with the digital age and with new modes of networked communication and interaction. People undertake many kinds of voluntary service and humanitarian action such as fundraising and charity work, helping or inspiring others, or promoting causes. As 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.  

SoDA Lab also worked on this project to help us develop a typology of humanitarian action and map the typology to situations and settings across Melbourne and wider Victoria. 

Read our report ‘Mapping humanitarian action on Instagram’ on the APO website.

In partnership with Telstra, City of Boroondara and Knox City Council, our researchers are engaging with older people to assist them with embracing digital technologies for their health and social life, as many still have limited understanding and access.  

The 60+ Online project develops ways to improve and sustain seniors’ use of digital technologies. It uses problem-based, creative digital storytelling and social media workshops, with participants interacting via a closed Facebook group. These participants reported enhanced social connectedness and interaction through digital channels with community groups and health services.  

Read our report ‘60+ online: Engaging seniors through social media and digital stories’ on the APO website.

In partnership with Yooralla, a disability services organisation, we’re exploring how they can more effectively and respectfully engage and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living with a disability. 

Indigenous Australians are at substantially higher risk of experiencing a disability or restrictive long-term health condition compared to non-Indigenous Australians. Our Indigenous-led multidisciplinary team is working with the First Peoples Disability Network to gain a better understanding of the barriers to accessing disability services experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in order to positively support the efforts of disability service providers and advocacy groups who empower and support Indigenous Australians living with disability.

Past event highlights

Webinar - Social Data in Action - Road Testing Community Data CO-OPs

Webinar - Social Data in Action - Road Testing Community Data CO-OPs

Held 21 July 2021, this webinar featured Professor Amir Aryani, Head of the Social Data Analytics (SoDA) Lab at Swinburne, who discussed the transformative potential of data collaboratives. In his talk, Professor Aryani provided a summary of data projects undertaken with organisations in the not-for-profit and government sectors.

Image created by stories from www.freepik.com

Webinar - Social Data in Action: We are AI: Towards Robust Public Participation in ADM Oversight

Webinar - Social Data in Action: We are AI: Towards Robust Public Participation in ADM Oversight

Held 29 June 2021, this session featured Julia Stoyanovich, from the Center for Responsible AI (R/AI) at New York University. Julia discussed recent public engagement activities around a proposed law to regulate the use of automated hiring tools in New York City.

Image created by stories from www.freepik.com

Webinar - Social Data in Action: Social Data for Public Empowerment in the USA

Webinar - Social Data in Action: Social Data for Public Empowerment in the USA

Held 22 June 2021, this webinar featured Sarah Williams from MIT, who shared insights from her 2020 book Data Action: Using Data for Public Good. She discussed how big data could be used for good and outlined a method that emphasised collaboration among data scientists, policy experts, data designers, and the public.

Image created by stories from www.freepik.com

Webinar - Social Data in Action: Emerging Social Data Governance in Europe

Webinar - Social Data in Action: Emerging Social Data Governance in Europe

Held 17 June 2021, this webinar featured Marina Micheli of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. She discussed emerging data governance models: data sharing pools, data cooperatives, public data trusts, and personal data sovereignty.

Image created by stories from www.freepik.com

Webinar: Social Data in Action: Where Social Science Meets Data Science

Webinar: Social Data in Action: Where Social Science Meets Data Science

Held 8 June 2021, this was the first in a series of webinars exploring the interface between social science and data science. Professor Jane Farmer and Associate Professor Anthony McCosker, from the Social Innovation Research Institute, discussed the importance of social data, the international state of play and goals of data-driven work.

Image created by stories from www.freepik.com

Webinar: Regulating Facebook

Webinar: Regulating Facebook

Facebook gained worldwide media attention for banning Australians from accessing news on its platform in response to the Australian Federal Government’s news media code legislation, which requires digital platforms to pay news media companies whose content they host. Held 5 May 2021, this webinar featured a panel of media tech and policy experts who discussed the opportunities and pitfalls of platform regulation.

Image “Facebook logo background Free Vector” by MasoudRezaeipoor from www.freepik.com

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Contact the Social Innovation Research Institute

If your organisation would like to collaborate with us to solve a complex problem, or you simply want to contact our team, get in touch by calling +61 3 9214 8180 or emailing sii@swinburne.edu.au.

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