On the 24th and 25th of August, the RDALM Digital Summit was held in Bendigo. Held at Bendigo’s own Capital Theatre, this was a fantastic forum exploring all things in the digital age. The Digital Summit brought together digital leaders from Victoria and beyond, to celebrate, learn and shape our digital landscape over the next decade. The digital age brings with it new challenges requiring new approaches: preventing the spread of misinformation, enhancing internet governance, ensuring digital platforms are secure through robust cybersecurity, and developing societal resilience and information literacy.
The Hon. Harriet Shing, (Minister for Regional Development) addressed the audience with great enthusiasm for the prospects in regional Victoria, and the opportunities for development here in Bendigo. Bendigo has one of the best digital hospitals, Bendigo Health, and a thriving manufacturing sector. Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf welcomed and addressed the audience, echoing the importance of the digital summit and what this means for Bendigo and beyond.
Maree Edwards, MP for Bendigo West, and Speaker for the Legislative Assembly also addressed the attendees with enthusiasm for the job prosperities that digital advancement brings to our region. Upskilling the community and increasing digital literacy is paramount in securing safe futures, and increasing programs to support digital inclusion are positive steps in the right direction.
On behalf of the City of Greater Bendigo Youth Council, Deputy Youth Mayor Lilly Correll was in attendance. Lilly says that the forum ‘only reiterates the importance of educating young people and providing them with hands-on experience in our region. The future in digital technology is endless, and young people should be encouraged to take the steps into this everchanging, innovative industry.’
Themes of inclusion and equity were also highlighted in this Summit, with a further push to come up with innovative solutions to keep on closing the digital divide between the regions and metropolitan areas. Black spots in mobile coverage, expensive satellite plans and lack of NBN fibre in our smaller towns contribute to some of the problems.
Telstra exhibited their new environmental detecting technology, ‘Attentis.’ This is a tool that can detect microorganisms and nutrients in soil, vibrations, and minute changes in the environment. This can enable natural disasters such as floods, fires, and earthquakes to be detected before real harm has occurred.
ChatGPT, OpenAI, and GenAI were also hot topics at the Digital Summit 2023. The policy has not yet considered new artificial intelligence and is subsequently far behind. This is not uncommon, as many sectors, such as the education sector, struggle to deal with the changes in their fields due to AI. What artificial intelligence means for the future needs to be looked at through a lens of opportunity, and how digital technologies can be utilised to create positive change. The digital age is upon us, and we need to be developing policies to be well-equipped to deal with the changes, embracing them rather than ignoring their existence.
Leonne Burrows, Chair of RDA (Regional Development Australia, Victoria, Lodden Mallee) emphasised that this summit will not only be a chance to celebrate the success of the region in implementing digital and innovation initiatives but also to build a Policy Communique to inform digital policy context around Victoria and Australia.
Deputy Youth Mayor Lilly Correll said "There was a clear theme throughout the day. What is technology’s role in our futures and what do we want it to be?"