Category Archives: Australia Blog

News and notes from Google down under

Grow with Google: helping more Australians access new digital skills

It’s no secret that digital technology is a part of everyday life for Australians - whether you are checking the bus timetable on your phone or building an online business - digital skills are essential. 

While the digital opportunities for Australian businesses and individuals are huge, we know that some people do not feel they have the skills they need to make the most of this opportunity.

Australians want the chance to learn new skills - that’s why we’re launching Grow with Google - a new initiative to provide free skills training both online and in person to help people make the most of the web.

We launched Grow with Google today at an event in Fairfield with Chris Bowen, the Shadow Treasurer, Shadow Minister for Small Business and Federal Member for McMahon. 

More than 500 people attended training sessions over two days at the Fairfield RSL in Western Sydney, which included workshops for business to learn how to be found on Google and use analytics, training for job seekers and students, and digital training for not-for-profit organisations.

Grow with Google
 aims to help all Australians get the skills they need, whether you’re a student, a job-seeker or a business wanting to get online.

We’re excited to expand our skills offering to more people, building on our existing digital skills programs.

Since 2014, Google has trained nearly half a million people across Australia through online and in-person training sessions, as well as curriculum integrated through school and partner programs.

For Australians at all points on the digital journey, there are significant benefits to getting online - whether it’s finding new employment opportunities or expanding the reach of your business.

If you want to grow your skills, careers, and businesses check out the free tools, training, and events at:

Technology and wellbeing: Get inspired and set healthy boundaries

The world we live in today is very different from the one we lived in when Google started back in 1998. We’re no longer reliant on computers to perform simple searches and send basic email. With the phones in our pockets and a range of smart Home devices, we can accomplish things we couldn’t have dreamed of on desktop.

As technology becomes increasingly woven into our day-to-day, making sure it’s adding to your life – instead of distracting from it – is more important than ever. Technology is by no means the solution to total wellbeing, but it can be a powerful tool to inspire and manage healthy habits – whether you’re reclaiming time, working out, cooking up a storm, or getting things done efficiently around the home.
Following our Wellbeing Breakfast media event in Sydney earlier today, here’s a recap of how Android, your Google Assistant and YouTube can help supercharge your wellbeing habits, and find the right balance:

Reclaim a sense of balance with digital wellbeing tools 

Research by our Android teams shows that mobile devices can create a sense of habit and obligation that is hard to break, even as people look for ways to create a healthy relationship with technology. With this in mind, teams at Google have worked to build features across Android, YouTube and more to help you better understand how you use your devices and apps, disconnect when you want, and create a healthy relationship with technology. With Android 9, you can enjoy a range of features give you greater visibility and control over your smartphone:

You can now see a dashboard which gives you a complete picture of how you’re spending time on your device, including how many times you’ve unlocked your phone, and how many notifications you’ve received. The App Timer feature lets you limit the amount of time you spend using your favourite apps so you can set time limits on apps, like “30 minutes for Gmail.” When you’re close to the limit you set for yourself on the app timer, you’ll get a nudge reminding you, and when time is up it will actually grey out the app icon to prevent further use. You can also activate the Wind Down feature so that at night, as you get close to bedtime, your device goes into Do Not Disturb mode and your screen fades to grayscale to help you disconnect.

And with the Family Link app, parents can set boundaries and manage their kids on Android devices. Family Link lets parents set screen time limits, approve or block certain apps, remote lock devices, and view activity reports so they can stay in the loop on how their kids are exploring.

Get inspired and stay motivated with your Google Assistant and YouTube 

We know your home plays a pivotal role in inspiring and maintaining your wellbeing. It’s where you whip up healthy meals, sleep and perhaps do your first salutes to the sun. The Google Assistant has a raft of features designed to help you learn about wellbeing factors and inspire healthy routines – available on Home devices, and via mobile when you are on the go. You can enjoy hands-free help in the kitchen to check nutritional information, conversions and substitutes – and step-by-step recipe instructions from Woolworths, Genius Kitchen and more. When you’re winding down, you can improve your meditation practice and sleep quality with Headspace - just say “Hey Google, ask Headspace to play today’s meditation” or “Ask Headspace to help me fall asleep.”

You can also transform your home into a workout or yoga studio in the morning. Say “Hey Google, show me how to do yoga on YouTube” to get guided through your practice with Hub or your TV.

Since Google launched Search in 1998, we’ve always aimed to build products that help you get things done efficiently and free you up to focus on the other things that matter to you – whether you are looking for inspiration or help around the home. That’s more important now than ever, and we’ll keep building with that principle in mind.

#BalanceforBetter – recognising female leaders this International Women’s Day

Almost 100 female business owners and operators came together for a Digital Garage event in Melbourne today to celebrate International Women's Day 2019.

Partnering with Business Chicks, the Digital Garage workshop championed female entrepreneurs and provided guests with the chance to learn new skills.

Federal Member for Chisholm, Julia Banks MP opened the event and spoke about the importance of supporting women in business.

"I think what Google is providing here today can only be a positive thing in terms of growing and developing your businesses. Growth is about embracing change, and I want nothing more than to see more and more successful women-led businesses in this country,” Ms Banks said.

We also heard from Nellie Kerrison, owner of Relish Mama; Jill Tucker, owner of Erilan and Lucinda Hartley, co-founder and CIO of Neighbourlytics who shared their inspiring stories of building a business online and spoke about how digital marketing can help.

The training included an introduction to digital marketing and tools to help businesses be found online by new customers.

Women in STEM Breakfast 
We also held a Women in STEM Breakfast, co-hosted with Science and Technology Australia (STA), featuring Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Dr Amanda Caples who laid out her vision for the future of women in science, technology, engineering and maths.

At the breakfast we announced a new partnership to support Superstars of STEM. This program, run by STA, aims to shift gender assumptions and empower leading female scientists, technologists, researchers and educators to become public role models.

We will partner with STA to support program participants with mentoring, training and collaboration on education outreach with a goal of inspiring women and girls across Australia to engage in STEM education and careers.

If you couldn’t make today’s events or you want to learn more, you can always check out the Digital Garage training online or find more events near you here.

Wishing everyone a great International Women’s Day as we work to #BalanceforBetter!

YouTube Originals premieres SHERWOOD and introduces a legend to a new generation

Last night in Sydney we hosted the world premiere of the latest YouTube Originals series, SHERWOOD - a 10 part animated series set in the dystopian future of 2270. It’s based on the mythology of Robin Hood and follows 14 year-old Robin and her friends’ as they battle with the wealthy Upper City in their efforts to overcome inequality and fight for justice. You can watch it now too, on YouTube Premium.
SHERWOOD World Premiere, hosted in Sydney Audiences attend the World Premier of Sherwood in Sydney
Nadine Zylstra with Nanette Miles, Bruce Carter, Diana Manson and Megan Laughton A panel discussion with Bruce Carter, Diana Manson and Rachel House, moderated by Nadine Zylstra
It is a truly global production, created by an ensemble of talented cast and crew from far flung parts of the world. Produced by Baby Octopus (Australia/US), Toybox (New Zealand) and Giant (Ireland) - Diana Manson and Megan Laughton serve as executive producers, Jan Stebbins and Nanette Miles as producers, Bruce Carter is the director and Jonathan Clarke the animation producer - while head writer Justin Trefgarne worked with writers Craig Martin and Shea Fontana to shift the legend of Robin Hood into the future and bring it to life for a new generation.
The all-star voice cast also transcends countries, featuring Anya Chalotra (The Witcher, The ABC Murders, Much Ado About Nothing), Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf, Truth Or Dare), Aneurin Barnard (The Goldfinch, Radioactive, Dunkirk), Jamie Chung (The Gifted, Big Hero, Gotham), Neneh Conteh, Rachel House (Whalerider, Thor, Moana), Ade M'Cormack (Lost, Heroes, NCIS), and Darrill Rosen (The Misogynists, Richard’s Wedding, First Person Singular) with guest star Joseph Fiennes (The Handmaid’s Tale, Elizabeth, Shakespeare In Love).
To help imagine this future world and what it meant for design, travel, technology and society, we convened an advisory council with Google’s Computer Science in Media team as well as thought leaders from organisations across Google. This collaboration and their insights helped shape SHERWOOD and let us test theories and ideas - like what a key in 2270 might look like… biological, of course.
Beyond the brilliant team behind this stunning animation, it’s a thrill to finally share this series (which has been four years in the making!), as it addresses some topics close to my heart. In this modern telling of Robin Hood, Robin is a girl who uses technology and code to battle the sheriff of SHERWOOD. We hope it can inspire people - young women in particular - to be excited by code and technology and the ways in which it can play a part in their own lives.
We’ve seen this before - a Thicket Labs research report on young girls who watched season one of the YouTube Originals series Hyperlinked, revealed that they were 11 percent more likely to consider a career in Computer Science after watching the series.
This week the work YouTube is doing to inspire the next generation of STEM innovators was acknowledged at the IF/THEN Conference where both Hyperlinked and SHERWOOD were showcased as examples of positive portrayals of women and girls in Computer Science and Technology.
As Geena Davis says ‘If she can see it, she can be it’ and with Robin I believe we are giving girls all over the world a leader who they would want to be. I am excited for my 12 year old daughter to binge the series this weekend!
SHERWOOD is available on YouTube Premium now. Check out the trailer or watch the first episode.

Celebrating Mardi Gras 2019

Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is a huge event and this year was no exception, with more than 500,000 people from all over Australia and across the world coming together to celebrate.

We were delighted to support Mardi Gras through the Community Grants Program, our new initiatives for LGBTI+ businesses and Fair Day.

Community Grants 
Through the Mardi Gras Community Grants Program we provide funding to individuals, community groups and not-for-profits, allowing these organisations to deliver their messages loudly and proudly during the 2019 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.

This is the second year we’ve supported the program and it was great to see so many awesome parade entries. Some of the 24 Community Parade Grant recipients include:

  • Bi+ Visibility: a partnership between Bi+ orgs, aimed to build community, fight bi-phobia and bi-erasure and address mental health issues. 
  • Diversity Launceston: a community-run, not-for-profit organisation for LGBTIQA people in Launceston, providing opportunities to meet and form connections. 
  • NSW Trans Youth Alliance: nearly 200 young trans people and allies, this float is themed Trans and Proud – Trans is Beautiful, as a marker of their courage to come out and be themselves and to march without fear.
  • The Institute of Many: an independent, grassroots, movement for people living with HIV. 
  • Women in AFL: to Women in AFL, their sport is not about gender, sexuality or differences – it’s about inclusion, the collective and teamwork. 

Digital Garage for LGBTIQ+ businesses 
We also hosted a Digital Garage for Mardi Gras 2019 skills training event at the Google office in Sydney last week for LGBTQI+ individuals and allies who own or manage a SMB and wanted to learn new skills to help their business be found online.

Partnering with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association, participants learnt how to get started with digital marketing tools, including our free online skills training platform The Digital Garage.

We also launched a new LGBTQ-friendly attribute on Google My Business - one way that business owners can let customers know they're welcome. 

Fair Day 
In our dedicated area at Fair Day, we provided a fun and safe space for fair-goers, showcasing the work of incredible local artist Luke John Matthew Arnold with the “Fearless Selfie Stand”.

Our stall was a celebration of his work, fearlessness and an invitation to all fair-goers to take a great selfie and support the LGBTIQ+ community while having a good time.

We’re proud to celebrate Mardi Gras and help more individuals and communities have the chance to shine. Counting down for next year!

YouTube Music Presents ‘Tash Sultana – The Story So Far’

The new documentary series, showing Tash Sultana’s journey from bedroom performances and busking to sold-out world tours, is now live on YouTube 

Global sensation and multi-instrumentalist Tash Sultana reveals ‘The Story So Far’, a new three-part documentary series following the 23 year-old’s rise to fame.

Starting a YouTube channel back in 2011, Tash’s videos have generated over 100 million views - with the ‘bedroom recordings’, including Jungle and Higher, now infamous.
It’s from these videos and busking on the streets of Melbourne that this one-person musical powerhouse is now commanding the world’s attention - being nominated for (and winning) ARIA Awards, record-breaking sold out shows at major theatres and arenas globally and playing at the world’s biggest festivals as people line up to hear the unique style and magical vocals of this self-taught artist.
Tash Sultana said: "If you were wondering how it all goes in the Tash Sultana world, here it is."
Lyor Cohen, Global Head of YouTube Music said: “Breaking new artists is my obsession, and at YouTube, I can do that at a massive, global scale. We’re beyond excited to work with Tash, to be a part of the journey towards becoming an international superstar, and to help tell this incredible story to music lovers around the world.”
The new series, ‘Tash Sultana - The Story So Far’, includes stories from and interviews with Tash as well as those who have witnessed the journey, including Regan Lethbridge and David Morgan from Lemon Tree Music, Jaddan Comerford from UNIFED, Paul Harris from Sony Music, Gang of Youths lead singer, David Le’aupepe, Alison Donald from Kobalt UK, Michael Goldstone and Suzanna Slavin from Mom+Pop Music, and Pierce Brothers.
Check out the first episode now on Tash’s channel, with episodes two and three to follow.

Gearing up for the Australian Federal Election

As Australians head to the ballot box in coming months, we’re rolling out products and updates to help people get the information they need to cast their votes. Here are some ways we’ll be providing support.

Helping voters access the information they need 
We know that people need useful and relevant information to help navigate the electoral process. You may have used Google’s Search tools for past Australian elections, where we highlighted information that helped people understand and participate. For the Australian Federal Election this year, we’ll be working with information from the Australian Electoral Commission to help people find the information they need to enrol and vote.

Better understanding political advertising and helping voters find information on candidates and parties 
We're working with political parties to help them understand digital best practices to ensure Australians can find the information they are looking for when they are searching online. We are also sharing Google's ads policies with parties and candidates in the lead up to the election. Our goal is to make information as accessible and useful as possible to voters, practitioners, and researchers. 

Protecting election information online
We’re continuing investments in keeping our own platforms secure and are working with parties, election officials, journalists and other organisations to offer our security expertise. For the 2019 Australian Federal Election, we’re offering in-person security training to the most vulnerable groups, who face increased risks of phishing attacks. We’ve been in Canberra in recent weeks providing training for government agencies and parties. Our training promotes Google’s Advanced Protection Program, our strongest level of account security, and Project Shield, a free service that uses Google technology to protect news sites and free expression from DDoS attacks on the web.

Navigating news
Australians rely on quality news content to navigate busy election periods and Google News Lab will support the Australian Associated Press (AAP) in its election verification service, which will send alerts to newsrooms around the nation. They’ll be offering workshops to help journalists access the latest tools and technology to tackle disinformation and support their coverage of the elections.

Like others, we’re thinking about how we continue to support democratic processes. We’ll provide more information on these areas and our efforts to inform, protect and support elections in coming months.

Celebrating Mardi Gras with new digital skills

More than 80 business owners and operators attended the Digital Garage for Mardi Gras 2019 skills training event at the Google office in Sydney today.

The Digital Garage, ahead of this weekend’s Sydney Mardi Gras celebrations, was designed for LGBTQI+ individuals and allies who own or manage a small to medium sized business and wanted to learn new skills to help their business be found online.

Partnering with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association, participants heard how to get started with digital marketing and other digital tools, including our free online skills training platform The Digital Garage.

Federal Member for North Sydney, Trent Zimmerman MP opened the event and spoke about the importance of supporting small business and Mardi Gras.

Trent Zimmerman MP, Federal Member for North Sydney with Google’s Aisling Finch and SGLBA President, Katherine Maver 

We also heard from Sydney marriage celebrant Stephen Lee - one of more than 290,000 New South Wales businesses that use Google to connect with customers around Australia and the world. Stephen shared how Google has helped his business to be found online.

At Google, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to succeed online, that’s why we developed The Digital Garage and why we are hosting events for small businesses all around Australia.

This is the second time we've partnered with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association to run a Digital Garage training for the LGBTQI+ community. 

We’re proud to support Mardi Gras through events like today’s and the Mardi Gras Parade Grants Program - happy Mardi Gras!

Partnering with the Walkley Foundation to train Australian journalists

The Walkley Foundation has been fostering innovation in Australian news gathering and storytelling for decades and we couldn’t think of a better partner for the Google News Initiative, which aims to provide free training for up to 4,000 journalists and students in Australia and New Zealand.

This week we announced a partnership the Walkley Foundation to develop a training network across Australia to support a sustainable future for journalists and make sure that journalists and media organisations have the digital skills to succeed at their craft.

We have worked with the Walkley Foundation since 2013 to deliver a wide range of programs and activities to help ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of journalism. 

Walkleys chief executive Louisa Graham said the program supports the Walkleys’ mission to support a sustainable future for journalists, connecting Australian and New Zealand newsrooms, journalists and students with this free training to boost their skills for digital reporting and verification.

Nic Hopkins, Google News Lab Lead for Australia and New Zealand, with Walkley Foundation CEO Louisa Graham and Matt Cooke, News Lab Head of Partnerships and Training

Earlier this month, The Walkley Foundation appointed John Bergin, former digital editor at SBS and director of digital news at the Australian News Channel, to manage its Google News Initiative training program.

The training will help journalists to understand how to use online tools that refine information and analyse trends, how to use satellite imagery to enhance your storytelling and develop insights to connect content with audiences and to make it more discoverable.

For more information check out the Google News Initiative or contact the Walkley Foundation to register your interest here.

Our response to the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry Preliminary Report

When I started working at Google almost 12 years ago, Australians were still figuring out how to make the most of the internet. Today, few of us could imagine a day without a smartphone in our pocket.

Google provides tools and services that millions of Australians use every day, such as Search, Maps and YouTube. Thousands of Australian businesses are benefiting too, using online platforms like ours to reach customers across Australia and globally.

In its Digital Platforms Inquiry, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is considering the impact of these changes, with a particular focus on news and journalism.

The ACCC notes the Internet has helped consumers to access a broader range of news publications, as lower production and distribution costs have sparked competition from new entrants, both locally and around the world. As this occurred, traditionally profitable sections of newspapers such as real estate and classifieds have faced new competition for advertising dollars, not just from platforms like Google, Facebook and Amazon, but also from Australian digital success stories like SEEK, Domain and REA.

In short, as Australians have increasingly gone online, so too have advertisers. The ACCC’s Preliminary Report proposes a number of regulatory ideas in response to this transition. We have engaged with the ACCC throughout this process and this week submitted our response to the Preliminary Report.

Underpinning our submission is a belief that as technology evolves, legal frameworks must also evolve with clear, evidence-based solutions to address specific problems. It’s sometimes claimed that the internet is unregulated but that's simply not the case. Considered, carefully calibrated regulation has contributed to the web’s success as a platform for expression and access to information.

We respect the range of existing laws and regulations that apply to the internet, such as competition and consumer laws and advertising regulations. This inquiry provides a timely opportunity to review and consider existing frameworks in light of rapid change.

Working with news publishers to enable quality journalism 
When Australians search for news on Google, we want to surface high quality, relevant and useful results. In 2018, we referred more than 2 billion clicks to Australian news websites. These clicks amount to free traffic that helps publishers generate ad revenue and provides the opportunity to turn casual readers into loyal subscribers. We also provide ad technology to large and small publishers to help them monetise content through advertising. In 2018, we paid US$14.2 billion to partners globally - more than 70% of the revenues earned from displaying ads served by Google on partners’ properties.

Google News has no ads, nor does the news results tab on the search page. Unlike social media sites, which operate in largely closed environments and benefit from users spending more time on the site, the success of Google Search relies on linking users with relevant results. This is an important distinction, highlighting the need to differentiate between digital platforms.

While Google supports news and journalism, some of the Preliminary Report’s recommendations - such as an algorithm regulator - risk poor outcomes. We already provide extensive guidance on search ranking, including our 164 page Search quality rater guidelines, and the How Search Works guide. And of course, Google Search results are open for all to see. We believe this approach balances the need for transparency against the risk of manipulation by bad actors and do not believe that an algorithm regulator would lead to higher quality search results or promote journalism.

Providing useful products and services for consumers and advertisers
Australians search for a wide range of queries every day and expect to get the most relevant and useful results, as quickly as possible. While Search is very popular, we have a lot of competition. From a consumer perspective, Google competes for user queries with other search engines, and specialised search services like Amazon, e-commerce sites and travel aggregators.

From an advertising perspective, search advertising is just one of many channels advertisers invest in and we compete directly for advertising dollars with other digital channels, as well as television, print, radio and outdoor advertising. The popularity of digital is, in part, due to the unprecedented ability it provides for advertisers to measure the impact of their ad spend and other media channels are fast catching up. This is not examined in the Preliminary Report and we believe there should be further consideration of the competition Google faces for user queries on search and the competition for advertising investment, both among digital providers (of which search advertising is only one part) and other forms of advertising.

Protecting Australians’ privacy 
Australians trust us to protect their privacy and data, and we take that responsibility seriously. Through Google’s MyAccount we provide easy to use tools that give people transparency, choice and control over their data. In 2017, Australians visited MyAccount more than 22 million times, reviewing and adjusting their privacy settings to manage what information is collected and how that data is used.

The Preliminary Report proposes a range of measures to enhance privacy and consumers’ awareness of data collection and use. We believe these changes should apply to all organisations currently subject to the Privacy Act, not just digital platforms or organisations that meet a particular threshold. 

The ACCC’s preliminary report provides a timely opportunity to examine Australia’s changing media and advertising landscape. As we continue to engage in this process, we do so with the goal of balancing the benefits of new technologies, minimising societal costs, and respecting fundamental rights for all Australians.