The CSIRO’s role is to deliver research which addresses key challenges facing the nation. The Lifelong Participation initiative in Data61 responds to the twin challenges of demographic and digital disruption. With increases in life expectancy we are now facing what could be the longest ever retirement period in history. With this welcome trend comes new challenges, such as the need to meet increased demand for health and aged care services at a time when the ratio of working aged people to retired people is declining. Further disruption, in the form of exponential developments in digital technology, could exacerbate these challenges, since the automation of work is likely to push less digitally literate older workers into early retirement.
Engaging with high level stakeholders across Australian society (and internationally), CSIRO researchers revealed the processes through which developments in digital technology can both enhance and diminish older Australians’ ability to participate in society and the economy. By addressing multiple barriers to participation, digital technology opens up an array of opportunities that can be adapted to the diverse values and needs of people in later life. On the other hand, the barriers to accessing and using digital technology could ultimately result in some individuals and groups being further excluded from opportunities to participate. The potential of digital technology is therefore emergent rather than fixed. To realise its full potential, older Australians need the capability, the tools and the confidence to apply digital technology to meet their individual needs and contribute to the community and economy.
The Data61 researchers at the CSIRO commissioned engage2 to provide advice on the design of a collaborative process for realising the opportunities identified in the report. As a starting point, they wanted engage2 to design a forum that would bring stakeholders together to share experiences, initiatives and resources. Data61 wanted to use the forums to help all stakeholders understand the ecosystem they were working in, to identify gaps they might fill, and showcase the tools they had available (such as Vizie and AAYS) and ways they might support ongoing collaboration.
We helped Data61 prepare for engagement, and designed a forum that would set them up to encourage stakeholder participation and collaboration during and after the event. Our knowledge and experience using Data61’s tools on projects like New Parramatta Rd and National Action Plan for Open Government was invaluable. We used these tools to show how digital participation, when engaging online and meeting in-person, could help build capability and confidence in participants and collect useful data for Data61 in a format that would enable efficient ongoing engagement. We also invited deliberation before, during and after the forums and integrated collaborate for impact methods into the design of sessions so that a shared vision could be created on the day with clear metrics for success that could be measured to demonstrate outcomes beyond the forum.
We really enjoyed participating in this project because it was a great complement to our work on the Southern Grampians and Glenelg Shire Council’s digital strategy. It gave us the opportunity to explore barriers to digital participation and deepen our understanding of how important digital skills and confidence are, and their impact on participation in our democracy, the economy and community. It also helped us to refine our understanding of collaborate for impact methodology and how it might be used to support program delivery across the Country.
If you are interested in learning more about Data61’s Lifelong Participation initiative you can visit their website at: research.csiro.au/lifelong
Lifelong Participation Initiative