We were contracted by the City of Parramatta to conduct research on the state of digital inclusion in the LGA and submit recommendations for their Smart Cities masterplan.
We have been working with individuals experiencing disadvantage and underserved communities to challenge exclusion and inequality by helping them to get online.
Our commitment to creating inclusive communities has led us to undertake a range of digital inclusion projects across the state and helped us gain insight into the unique challenges that face our diverse communities.
As technology becomes increasingly central to everyday life, we believe that everyone should have the necessary skills, access, trust and motivation to make the most of our digital world.
Have you ever eaten peanut butter and tomato sauce sandwiches?!
Leep in Lab
Our Leep in Lab is a volunteer powered learning space where digital mentors provide free one-on-one support to help people learn how to use their devices and the internet. Our buzzing lab offers a relaxed social environment where communities can come together to learn about technology.
Leep in Network
In July 2016, the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) funded Leep, in partnership with Good Things Foundation, to establish the Leep in Network, a social and digital inclusion movement aimed at improving people’s lives through technology, with a special focus on people with disability.
The network was funded to operate across Greater Western Sydney to bring local organisations, businesses and councils together in partnership to support the 1 in 5 Australians who aren’t online.
The network is brought together by an online platform where all its digital services are presented on an interactive map and searchable directory.
This is what Lisa (our digital mentor) did when dared by Robyn in our Leep in Lab.
They both laughed when recounting this story displaying the bond between these two very remarkable women.
To see Robyn today you’d never know all the challenges she has overcome to be in our lab. Twenty one years ago she was hit crossing the road and spent 18 months in and out of hospital with multiple broken bones and fractures leading eventually to a prosthesis to replace her leg that would not heal. At home Robyn’s husband who had always had a violent streak was eventually removed as his abuse became life threatening with the onset of dementia. Through all these challenges Robyn dealt with depression and the temptation to give up on life.
How did Robyn end up at our Lab?
Robyn believed her vision impairment would prevent her from ever being able to use a computer so it was only in jest she suggested to an Ability Linker she’d like to learn about computers. When she first came to the lab she felt totally lost but after meeting Jason, a student placement from Western Sydney University, she felt welcomed as he asked her “what do you want to learn”. This was a relief for Robyn as she says “he didn’t fill my head with fancy words”.
Robyn realised technology wasn’t beyond her and with assistance from Jason she decided to learn on a tablet because of its accessibility features. Jason’s return to University coincided with Lisa’s arrival as a digital mentor in the lab and she took over mentoring Robyn.
Lisa is married to Shane, “a totally amazing male”, who supports her full time study in social work and is hands on raising their two sons aged 2 and 4 (even doing the housework when Lisa is away for a weekend seminar!) With all these responsibilities Lisa was looking for more ways she could contribute and was particularly attracted to the digital mentor role Leep had advertised.
Things that many of us take for granted, such as taking a photo, seemed inconceivable to Robyn. With support from Lisa, Robyn is now sharing photos with her family. This simple task that comes quite naturally to others, is life changing for Robyn.
Talking to these two women it is evident how they naturally bounce off each other and have a lot of fun together. For Lisa she realises that she will not always be able to volunteer in the lab but she says “I know the imprint I have on the people I mentor is going to be for life!
For Robyn she says “coming to the lab has saved my life, I no longer feel my life is worthless”.
The feeling of connection, friendship and fun in the lab is infectious with lots of laughter and food treats now the norm thanks to Robyn’s initial dare with peanut butter and tomato sauce sandwiches!