Connecting people of all abilities to the world's possibilities
Content warning: this story mentions self-harm, suicide and domestic and family violence.
In 2022, not having a smartphone and an internet connection is a dealbreaker. The events of the past two years have emphasised how crucial digital technology is in staying connected, and in participating in everyday life.
Digital inclusion is the ability to access and use digital technologies effectively. On the Australian Digital Inclusion Index, people with disability scored 9.1 points below the national average¹. People with disability often use digital media less, have lower confidence and ability levels, and have difficulty accessing technology due to affordability².
GIVIT is working with Queenslanders with Disability Network to get mobile phones, laptops, PCs and tablets into the hands of people with disability, and get them online and connected.
A special visit in Brisbane
BJ lives in 24-hour supported living accommodation. He attends CPL for four days each week, where he enjoys filming with a go-pro, then editing the footage on one of the centre's laptops. BJ loves showing these videos to his dad on their monthly visits.
BJ was over the moon with his new laptop, and excited that he can now make his videos at home. He's also looking forward to being able to talk to his friends and family on Facebook and via email any time he wants.
One of his carers, Shirley, said it had been a while since they'd seen him smile so much, and she didn't think it had sunk in yet for him that this laptop was all for him. BJ is non-verbal, but throughout Danni's visit, he kept on signing 'thank you' over and over!
Fresh start for a young trans man
A staff member at Jabiru Community Youth and Children's Service requested a touchscreen laptop and stylus for Matt (name changed), a client they were working with. This young trans man was recently diagnosed with an intellectual disability. Matt experienced childhood sexual abuse and violence, leading to self-harm and suicide attempts at a young age. Matt is disconnected from his birth mother, and has had to move schools and make new friends repeatedly as a result.
As a young trans man with a history of trauma, Matt has experienced bullying, discrimination, disadvantage and marginalisation, and experiences poor mental health.
This year Matt started at another new school. His experience this time around has been more hopeful and inclusive, and for the first time in a long time, he is imagining a brighter future. Matt is participating in art and media to support his recovery, and is finding healing through this creative pathway.
Thanks to a generous corporate donation, GIVIT purchased a touchscreen laptop and stylus to help Matt on his courageous journey of recovery.
Staying connected during disasters and emergencies
During the floods that affected Queensland and New South Wales in February and March 2022, there were numerous reports across both states of people with disability struggling to access support services and emergency information.
In South Brisbane, Brendan Donohue, who is blind, was left especially vulnerable in his South Brisbane community housing apartment complex. As the floodwaters rose, the building's lift broke, the intercom connecting Brendan's apartment to the 24-hour concierge was down, and the entrance to the building was moved.
The 2021 Disability Royal Commission acknowledged that people with disability are at far greater risk of neglect during emergencies³. In Japan, a study examining the aftermath of the 2011 Tokohu Earthquake stated that people with physical disability were two to four times more likely than the general population to die or sustain injuries than the general population during disaster events⁴.
A digital device is crucial for accessing information, connecting to support services, and connecting with friends and loved ones during disasters and emergency events.
A flooded street in Brisbane's CBD. During the recent floods that affected the city, there were numerous accounts of people with disability struggling to access support and information. Image: QLD Fire & Emergency Services
Helping a young man pursue his dreams
Mylestones Employment helps find employment for people with disabilities and barriers in life. Mylstones was supporting James* a young man living with Schizophrenia. An avid writer, James finds this medium supports his mental health and focus.
James has been unable to afford a laptop. Thanks to corporate partner Golding, GIVIT was able to fill this need. James explained to Mylestones that he had been struggling with motivation, self-validation and purpose in life, and was excited to start transferring what he'd written on paper over to his computer. He was also looking forward to connecting with his friends and family, applying for jobs, and being more independent.
James passed on his thanks to GIVIT, and said "this will make a massive difference to my wellbeing. Thank you so much."
A voice for everyone
Another request from CPL that GIVIT filled recently was for a young non-verbal man with a high-care physical disability. He had communicated to his carers through sign language that he'd like a phone or tablet to communicate more easily. A mobile phone would allow him to text and video call his family and friends, and a tablet would help him stay in touch with mates on social media, and access programs, apps and services.
CPL placed requests for both items, and in no time both were donated! The tablet was donated thanks to a generous donor who used the FUND button. In their donation, the donor said "I hope this makes a positive difference for this young man. I wish him all the best." The request for the mobile phone was met thanks to another member of the public who donated their secondhand smartphone.
"This is wonderful news. It's actually just brought a tear to my eye that there are such caring people out there."
A carer at CPL when told her client would receive a tablet and mobile phone thanks to big-hearted donors
Digital devices crucial in remote areas
Australians living in regional areas score 5.5 points lower than those living in metropolitan areas on the Australian Digital Inclusion Index⁵. For people living with physical or intellectual disability outside the big cities, it's arguably even more important that they are digitally able to connect to loved ones, as well as access support services, programs and news.
A family in Central West Queensland recently escaped a domestic and family violence situation. One family member has Autism, and is in the NDIS program. The organisation supporting the family requested a laptop to help the young man complete his homework, and work on his school-based traineeship.
Partnering with Queenslanders with Disability Network
Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) is engaging directly with people with a disability needing support in communities across Queensland.
In addition to coordinating the donation of devices to people in need, QDN is also running digital literacy workshops for people with disability. Here's some participant feedback from a recent workshop in Brisbane:
"I'm really happy that myself and my partner were able to get the same phone donated for each of us because we'll be able to teach each other things we have learnt."
"Since getting to know everyone at these workshops I've felt much more comfortable asking questions about my Chromebook and have learnt lots of good skills like using two fingers to scroll up and down a page."
How to help people with disability
Want to help people with disability in Queensland to access digital devices? You can help through GIVIT's Digital Inclusion - Queenslanders with a Disability Appeal, even if you don't live in Queensland.
- Donate a mobile phone, computer, laptop, tablet or other digital devices and accessories by looking through the list of what's needed below.
- Don't see any requests for the items you have to donate? No worries. List your items on our online warehouse, sit tight, and if a charity needs your donation, you'll be matched.
- Give money by looking for the FUND button next to each request to fund a specific item, or donate directly to the appeal.
- Volunteer your time. Upload your offer of time, skills or services to our online warehouse, and if a charity needs your help, you'll be matched. Volunteering Queensland is also looking for digital inclusion mentors to help with training sessions for people with disability. Click here for more information.
- For residents in Brisbane seeking to donate digital device, mobile phones, laptops, tablets, PCs and accessories can be dropped off at all Brisbane City Council Libraries until 30 September, 2022.
See what people need right now
Post / Courier
Digital donations keeping vulnerable Victorians connected
GIVIT and Beyond Disability Inc team up to help bushfire-impacted Victorians remain connected during COVID-19 lockdowns. More than 80 PCs, laptops and other devices have been donated so far.
A garden makeover for children with disability
We helped disability support organisation Yumba Bimbi create a fantastic, inclusive outdoor play space at their site in Emerald, Central Queensland thanks to a generous corporate donation.