Author Archives: Johnny Luu

No shame when you Ask Izzy

Finding help for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who make up almost a quarter of those supported by Australia’s homeless services, is often a struggle.
That’s all about to change with the release of the redesigned Ask Izzy mobile website that now allows users to search for dedicated housing, health, food services and much more.
Lucy Turnbull and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launching Ask Izzy in January, 2016.
 Since it was launched in January 2016 by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Ask Izzy has had more than 500 000 searches for help with over 10 percent of users identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
Ask Izzy was built using funds and support from Google, through the Google.org Impact Challenge, as well as REA Group and News Corporation Australia. Its designers included people who have lived through being homeless, and the frontline workers who support them.
Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs (centre) with Google Australia managing director Jason Pellegrino and Google.org director Jacqueline Fuller.
With almost 80 percent of people who are homeless owning a smartphone, Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs says mobile technology provides an easy way to help people find support:
“We believe Ask Izzy is a vital tool for individuals and organisations working with Aboriginal communities. It will help to find the right services to support people facing challenges.”
The redesigned website aims to break down the barriers of people sometimes feeling ashamed and overwhelmed when seeking support, and instead helps them to feel welcome and included. Dan Laws, Coordinator of the Aboriginal Homelessness Network at Ngwala Willumbong, has assisted Infoxchange in reaching out to local communities and says this project has been a long time coming:
“Feedback from community has been one of ‘at last’ in terms of Ask Izzy’s helpfulness. As an Aboriginal person and one who works in the homelessness and family violence sectors, I have found the website to be beneficial to me as a reference guide, but more importantly to the people we support.”
Changes affecting indigenous people across Ask Izzy include:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service listings can now be prioritised across a number of categories, including housing, health, support and counselling, legal and finding work.
  • More than 1500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services have been added or updated this year and there are now over 16,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services on Ask Izzy. 

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Marriage equality will make us feel safer, more included

Today I’m a step closer to being able to call my wife my wife!
Earlier this year my father-in-law Professor Graeme Stewart, AO, stated in his wedding speech to my wife and I: “As a physician and scientist I know that same sex attraction is a simple biological variant. One doesn’t choose it any more than one chooses one’s blood group or to be tall or short or to be right or left-handed. It just happens.”
Tara (right) and her wife Jess on their wedding day in Hawaii.
Being gay is not a lifestyle I chose, it is who I am. My wife and I have had to create a world within society to feel like we belong. We have created a gay friendly bubble to protect ourselves from outside prejudice that might exist. Whenever we choose to leave our bubble we have to assess how ‘safe’ an area or situation is, and we change simple behaviours accordingly, we often have to be conscious of how we address each other, and how we show affection to each other.
Unfortunately this is the way most LGBTQI people have to live in modern society to protect themselves and avoid potential harm and unwanted attention. The danger however of living like this, restricting your social circles, and retreating into gay friendly communities is you can forget the reality that exists in the ‘real world’, you forget about the discrimination that members of the LGBTQI community face who live under different circumstances.
What this “yes” result means for the gay community is acceptance. Knowing that the majority of Australians agree with same sex marriage makes us feel safer, more included, and we feel less segregated, and most importantly we can openly celebrate our love, commitment and relationships with our family and friends like the rest of the Australian population.
I hope one day (soon!) to unashamedly, call my wife my wife, without having to awkwardly explain our marriage is legal in the state of Hawaii and every country that has legalised gay marriage, and not have to feel ashamed and accept sympathy glances when we attend our friends weddings and the words ‘marriage is between a man and a women with exclusion of all others’ are read aloud.
Today, the survey results show most Australians recognise the LGBTQI community as equal, and now we are just simply...normal.

YouTube – The Australian Story

As the world’s most popular video site, YouTube is helping to build a new creative ecosystem by supporting Australian content creators. Today we released our first ever report on how YouTube is helping those creators: YouTube - The Australian Story.
While we all know Australians love to watch YouTube, less well known are the stories of the Australian YouTube creators who are making uniquely Aussie content for both local and global audiences. Australian content on YouTube is wildly popular among overseas audiences, with more than 90% of views coming from overseas in 2016. This provides Australian YouTube creators with access to a global audience. In the process, they are building real businesses around their YouTube channels, which have become central to their ongoing success.
Josiah Brooks from Draw with Jazza
In 2016 alone, Australian YouTube creators earned significant incomes from advertising on YouTube, with more than 100 channels earning more than $100,000 and more than 2000 channels earning between $1,000 and $100,000. This money is generated from the advertising that is displayed against creators’ content on YouTube. Creators are also earning money by leveraging their channels in other ways including through fan meet-ups, merchandise sales and sponsorships.
This has allowed talented YouTube creators like Josiah Brooks (aka Draw with Jazza) to earn a living from his art content. Josiah started his YouTube channel in 2012 hoping that it would one day help to pay his bills. Five years later he has two million subscribers, and his videos have been viewed more than 220 million times.

In his words: "YouTube has made it possible for me to run an art entertainment channel from regional Victoria, which reaches a large global audience and provides a substantial income. My channel began within a 'niche', producing specialized content, although over time I've have been able to shift towards the mainstream and compete with some of the world's top YouTube channels."
As well as Josiah’s video content, which is sponsored by major brands like Adobe and Disney, Josiah has also been able to monetise his YouTube success through his best selling App, ‘Jazza’s Arty Games’, and an online store hosted on his website.
Here he’s been able to sell artwork, games, reference packs and e-books. He’s even selling his ‘signature photoshop brushes’ allowing viewers on his YouTube channel to develop advanced skills in digital art.
Brothers Danny and Michael Philippou from The Racka Racka

This type of success is only possible because of the high quality and engaging content Australian creators are producing on YouTube. Danny and Michael Philippou, the twin brothers from Adelaide behind The Racka Racka, have built a fanbase of more than four million subscribers on YouTube and their content has been viewed more than 500 million times. They have been described by the CEO of Screen Australia as the “most successful content creators in the country”.
The Racka Racka features in the top ten most subscribed channels in Australia and is reaching a global audience through YouTube.
As they say: “Without YouTube we wouldn't be anywhere. Before it we were struggling to be noticed or seen. YouTube gave us access to millions of people and the opportunities it has provided us are incredible!”
Being able to reach a global audience is a massive advantage for Australian content creators. And this is leading to an explosion in the amount of Australian content being produced. In 2016, more than 550,000 hours of video was uploaded by Australian creators to YouTube.
Put another way, every minute more than one hour of content is uploaded to Australian YouTube channels. With YouTube’s global reach the possibilities for Australian creators are endless!

Communicate around the house with the Google Assistant



Cross-posted from the Google Keyword blog

From dinner bells to shouting, attempting to gather the family from around the house is nothing new. And now, your Google Assistant is getting in on the game.
Starting today, you can broadcast your voice from your Assistant on your phone or voice-activated speakers, like Google Home. So when you need to round up the family in the morning, just say “Ok Google, broadcast it’s time for school!” and your message will broadcast to all Assistant enabled speakers in your home.
For certain everyday things like waking up, dinnertime or settling down for bed, the Assistant can send a playful message on your behalf. Just say “Ok Google, broadcast it’s dinner time” and a dinner bell will ring on all your Google Homes. 🔔 Now you don't have to wear out your voice shouting up the stairs.
And if you’re just leaving the office, you can let your family know you’re coming with a simple “Ok Google, broadcast I’m on my way home!” to the Assistant on your phone, and it will broadcast to your Google Homes. To ensure that broadcasting works across all your devices, make sure you’re signed in with the same Google Account. See our help center to learn more.
Broadcasting starts rolling out today to the Assistant on phones and speakers set to English language in the U.S., Australia, Canada and the U.K., with more languages coming soon.


Family Link arrives in Australia

Every year, more and more Aussie children are using mobile devices, and according to our research, 50% of kids in Australia between the ages of 2-12 now have their own phone or tablet. Managing a child’s use of these devices can be a challenge. Parents have concerns about stuff like screen time and the apps their children are using, just like they have concerns about protecting their little ones in the real world. Parents want to help guide their child’s experience online, while also allowing them to explore and be inspired. Starting this week, parents in Australia will be able to use Family Link to help them manage their child’s Android device, including apps their child can use, keeping an eye on screen time, setting a bedtime for their child’s device, and more.  

Here’s how it works: First, your child will need a new or factory reset Android device (see which devices work with Family Link). When setting up your child’s device, we’ll ask you to create an account. Enter your child’s birthday, and if they’re under 13, you can set up a Google Account for them that you can manage. When you’re finished, Family Link will automatically be downloaded to your child’s device, and you can choose the apps and settings that you want for your child. You can then use Family Link to:

Manage the apps your child can use

Approve or block the apps your child wants to download from the Google Play Store.
Keep an eye on screen time

See how much time your child spends on their favorite apps with weekly or monthly activity reports, and set daily screen time limits for their device.


Set a device bedtime

Remotely lock your child’s device when it’s time to play, study, or sleep.


While no app can make apps or services that were designed for adults "child-safe," Family Link can help parents stay in the loop and set certain ground rules around how children use their devices. As we continue to develop Family Link, we’d love to hear feedback from Australian parents on how we can make the Family Link experience even better. Share your feedback right in the Family Link app from the Help menu. You can learn more at our website, and if you have questions about setting up an account for your child or using Family Link, check out our Help Center.

Posted by Charles Zaffaroni, Product Manager, Kids and Families

Get Google Play Apps, Music and More by Answering Surveys


















Want to trade your opinion for the new Broods single?  Maybe you want to fill your armour slots on Minecraft, but would rather pay with your time instead of your money for new gear?  Answer quick surveys from researchers and earn Google Play credit with Google Opinion Rewards, an Android app now available on Google Play (goo.gl/BW2p4j) for users located in New Zealand.  

To get started, download the app from Google Play (goo.gl/BW2p4j). About once a week, you'll get a notification on your phone that a short and relevant survey is ready for you. Questions will range from “Which logo is best?” and “Which promotion is most compelling?” to “When do you plan on traveling next?”. After setting up their account, users will receive Google Play credit for completing surveys and earn up to $1.50 NZD for every survey they take.

How do I install Google Opinion Rewards?
+ Open the Google Play store
+ Search for “Google Opinion Rewards”
+ Click install

Explore four decades of Mardi Gras fabulousness

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras may have started life as a protest, but these days it’s a different kind of riot as hundreds of thousands of marchers and supporters annually make it one of the biggest and most fabulous LGBTQI celebrations anywhere in the world.
Campaign magazine, courtesy Australian Lesbian & Gay Archives1978-06-24
Now celebrating its 40th year, the Mardi Gras is one of the main annual celebrations for LGBTQI Australians and at Google it’s one of our favourite times of the year, when we get together to support equality, diversity and inclusion.
We’re proud to provide our support to the Mardi Gras through funding of the Community Parade Grants program.
Today, we are also thrilled to help the Mardi Gras tell the inspiring story of how it has evolved over the past four decades through the Google Arts & Culture platform. The interactive timeline of images and videos portrays decades of Mardi Gras love, protest, diversity, acceptance, activism, pride, family, passion, creativity, drama and satire.
The 40th anniversary of Mardi Gras makes me reflect on my own history with this iconic event. Being born and raised in Austria, I was on a holiday in Australia when I met my first girlfriend at Mardi Gras in 2005. You could say that, ultimately, Mardi Gras greatly contributed to me still being here almost 13 years later.
Strictly Mardi Gras Float Markham Lane, 2014-03-01 From the collection of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
I have marched three times in the parade, and I still feel goosebumps thinking about that very moment when your float turns onto Oxford St, the crowd roaring. Feeling like a rockstar, celebrated by thousands!
It’s been a long few months for the Australian LGBTQI community. I hope that we’ll be able to celebrate equality for all Australians when Mardi Gras comes around again next year.

Upping digital skills in 35 degrees…Digital Garage arrives in Darwin

The Northern Territory is the third largest Australian jurisdiction, covering more than 1.3 million square kilometres, and with a sparsely distributed population in some of the most remote areas of the country, there’s a great opportunity for digitally savvy local businesses to connect with consumers from across the country and overseas.


More than 120 business owners came together in Darwin this week for a free digital skills training event hosted by Google Australia in partnership with the Northern Territory’s October Business Month.  

Full house at SkyCity when Digital Garage arrived in Darwin


As more than 90 per cent of Aussie small businesses are not taking full advantage of today’s digital tools, the workshop aimed to help small business owners gain new digital skills and make the most of the web by providing practical skills for improvement. Member for Fong Lim, Jeff Collins, joined the event and spoke about the great digital opportunity for businesses in the Northern Territory.

Guests also heard from local business owner, Damien Moriarty, Founder of Killarney Homes,  on how he uses Google tools to promote the home construction business. Operating for over 10 years, Damien highlighted how a significant amount their lead generation can be attributed back to the company’s digital presence on Google and YouTube. Prospective homeowners increasingly like to do their research online by viewing videos before taking the next step of meeting with a builder.
Jeff Collins MLA, Chair of the Small Business Round Tables


Every month, Google drives tens of millions of direct connections between businesses and their customers in Australia including calls, online reservations and direction requests.The opportunity for businesses in the Northern Territory and beyond is significant. Want to find out more about how to get your business online? Check out The Digital Garage online!

Posted by Richard Flanagan, Head of Business Marketing, Google Australia and New Zealand 

Investing even more in Australia’s future

Great innovations that improve the lives of millions usually have one thing in common: they are born from an obsession with solving a specific problem.
We take the same approach to our products and services at Google, focusing on the needs of our users and employing technology to make their lives easier. It’s that same fixation that also drives the ten nonprofit organisations that Google Australia supported a year ago when we announced $5 million in funding through the Google.org Impact Challenge.
Anna Marsden, managing director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, explains how they are helping to save the reef with autonomous robots. 
Nonprofits such as the George Institute for Global Health, which is creating an SMS-based support service to help people with chronic diseases lead healthier lives, or the Centre for Eye Research Australia, with an eyesight self-assessment system for Australians in remote areas. The Great Barrier Reef Foundation is protecting coral reef ecosystems though a low-cost, autonomous robot designed to monitor, map, manage and preserve coral reef ecosystems, while The Nature Conservancy Australia is deploying mobile technology to protect global fish stocks.

This week we celebrated the work of those ten organisations in the year since we announced their funding, hearing about their progress and the milestones they have achieved.
Today, we are thrilled to announce that next year we will invest even more to help tackle Australia’s toughest problems.
The Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre is working on an app to help parents detect autism in their children.
In 2018 we will hold Australia’s third Google Impact Challenge, with a minimum funding commitment of $5 million, inviting charities and nonprofits to propose technology-driven solutions to challenges facing our society. Working with prominent Australians to judge submissions, and inviting the public to vote on their favourite projects, we will select another 10 projects to support with funding and resources from Google.
This will be the third time we have run the Google.org Impact Challenge in Australia, making us the first country outside of America to do so. We started back in 2014, supporting nonprofits such as Infoxchange and AIME, which yesterday launched its game Second Chances, designed to encourage indigenous kids to engage more with maths and science.
Normally we only do an Impact Challenge once, but we have been impressed by the calibre of the ideas and the teams that came forward. The ideas in Australia are not only the best innovators all across Australia, but on par with any of the best innovation ideas we've seen globally.
We are excited to see the new ideas that will emerge through the 2018 Google Impact Challenge, and to assist organisations with visions to use technology in addressing important causes.
Representatives of the ten nonprofits that received funding in the 2016 Google.org Impact Challenge at the anniversary celebration held at Google's offices in Sydney.
Google has always worked best when it helped people work on big problems in new ways. Through Google.org, we rally our philanthropy, people, and products to support nonprofits making an impact in their communities.
In Australia, that commitment continues to grow. We aim to continue to assist all Australians in making creating a safer, more inclusive society for everyone.

Searching for news innovators

At Google News Lab, we believe technology can and should support the creation of quality journalism.
We know that the best journalistic innovations come from within the newsroom, when journalists and technologists work together at the centre of the action.
That's why we are thrilled to expand the Australia Google News Lab Fellowship in its second year, in partnership with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Walkley Foundation. Applications are now open.
We’re seeking Fellows to spend the 2017/18 summer embedded in the ABC newsroom, working on data journalism and product development projects that will help one of Australia’s largest newsrooms experiment and innovate with the latest storytelling technologies.
Google News Lab works with newsrooms, startups and journalism organisations around the world.
The Fellowship is open to anyone with technology skills that they’d like to apply to create new innovative forms of journalism, under the guidance of some of Australia’s most experienced journalists. Over the past two years we’ve steadily expanded the Google News Lab Fellowship program to help build the next generation of digital journalists across the world.
Last year we launched the program in Australia in partnership with Fairfax Media, placing Matthew Baker from the University of New South Wales inside the Sydney Morning Herald’s newsroom.
Australian News Lab Fellow Matt Baker (second from right) with other Fellows at Google headquarters last year.
Matthew worked on two main projects - a data-driven analysis of the late-night lockout laws in Sydney, and a recommendation tool designed to increase audience engagement.
We look forward to welcoming a new cohort of passionate Australian journalism innovators this year to expand and broaden the impact of the Fellowship program.
You can learn more about the fellowship program and our participating media organisations at the Walkley Foundation’s website. Applications are open until October 29.