Category Archives: Australia Blog

News and notes from Google down under

Connecting newsrooms with local communities

Technology has changed the way that newsrooms reach their audiences and engage them with compelling stories. There are myriad new ways that consumers can access the news, including through their smartphones and now even through smart speakers like the Google Home.
But how do newsrooms connect with their communities and make sure they’re including everyone’s voice in their coverage? Often the quiet voices and those from isolated and remote communities are overlooked in mainstream media coverage - and it can be hard for them to find a journalist to tell their stories.
The hackathon sought to help newsrooms connect with their communities and make sure they’re including everyone’s voice in their coverage.
That’s the problem that 40 journalists and coders from around Australia tried to solve at a hackathon organised by the Global Editors Network (GEN), the Walkley Foundation and Google News Lab. We gathered some of the best media innovators from Australia and New Zealand at Google Australia’s headquarters in Sydney over two days to develop innovative news prototypes around the theme of "Connecting with local communities".
The Seven West Media team  at work on 'Newsroom Hotline'.
The winning team was from Seven West Media, publisher of The West Australian, with their prototype Newsroom Hotline, a simple but ingenious tool that enables anyone to dial a phone number and leave a voice message that is converted to text using artificial intelligence and emailed to the newsroom.
The Conversation team won the Public Choice vote.
As Seven West’s team said: “It is too difficult for people to get tip offs to journalists. Many simply don’t know how who to contact or how. This is because we no longer have editorial assistants to receive calls, our reporters are often on the road and news editors in the office are managing breaking news and competing deadlines across multiple newspapers, websites and social media channels.”
“The structure of newsrooms are constantly evolving, which makes it confusing for people without media experience to navigate to say what they want to say. Emails get lost in the white noise of press releases and too many phone calls bounce around the office. We need to make the connection between our community and our journalists as easy as possible.”
Teams from 10 different media organisations pitched their ideas to a panel of judges.
The Seven West team will next head to Lisbon to compete in the global GEN Editor's Lab final over three days. Special mentions go to The Conversation for their prototype On the Ground, which received the Public Choice, and to Junkee for YarnBot, and we’re grateful to all the teams who came from around the nation to contribute their time and resources to the hackathon.
Each of the ideas that were pitched are valuable contributions to helping solve the problem of connecting communities with the newsrooms that can tell their stories, and we can wait to see how they evolve and grow over time.

Female business leaders driving digital skills at #IWD2018 Digital Garage

Small business owners are always looking to stay one step ahead, so it’s fitting that Sydney’s leading female business owners came together today to celebrate International Women’s Day (one day ahead of the main event) and learn new skills at the International Women’s Day Digital Garage, hosted by Google and Business Chicks.

More than 120 business leaders joined the workshop to learn new digital skills and find out more about how they can grow their business online.

Guests had the chance to hear from other small businesses doing great things online and the New South Wales Minister for Women, Hon Tanya Davies MP.

Minister Davies spoke about the importance of supporting women in business and beyond, and invited guests to #PressForProgress - this year’s International Women’s Day theme.

We also heard from Leona Watson, Director of Cheeky Food Events, who shared her inspiring story of founding a team-building cooking company. She spoke about how she uses digital tools to reach new customers.

“About 70 percent of my new business is generated from people calling after seeing my ads on Google Search. As a business owner, there’s nothing better than being able to track down to the dollar where your marketing budget is going and to see the results it’s returning, it enables my business to just keep growing and gives me confidence... invaluable really!”

The workshop covered practical steps business owners can take to help put their business on the map and be found online by new customers.

Businesses right across Australia can take advantage of free, in-depth trainings on the Digital Garage site, which features tips on everything from taking your first steps online to analytics and mobile advertising.

Check out the Digital Garage today and stay tuned for more International Women’s Day news this week!

Supporting communities at the Mardi Gras’ fabulous 40th

We have something we want to Cher with you - this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was one of the best ever!
The Mardi Gras is already one of our favourite times of the year, giving everyone a chance to join with friends and family to celebrate diversity and inclusion - but this year we had the added celebration of the recent legalisation of same-sex marriage, the presence of Cher as the headline act, and of course the 40th anniversary of the event.
It is the enormous diversity of groups and the enthusiasm they bring that make Mardi Gras such a special event.
At Google we believe that by creating an environment where everyone can feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to their work, they can be more innovative, creative, and inspired at work. We also want our employees to have the same inclusive experience outside of the office as they do at work, and for people to be safe and to be accepted wherever they are, so we look for impactful ways to help the LGBTQI+ community in Australia.
Google supports the Mardi Gras through its Community Parade Grants program, which is designed to fund and support a diverse range of community ideas and provide grants to individuals, community groups and not-for-profit groups to help lift their parade entries to a completely new artistic level.
This year is the second year for the program, and because it’s a special occasion - the 40th anniversary of the parade - we invested further funds to support a greater number of community groups and nonprofits: $80,000 in grant money was divided among 31 deserving organisations from all over Australia to help create extra fabulous floats in celebration of the momentous anniversary.
Some of the 31 Community Parade Grant recipients include:
Salamat Datang used their float to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQI community in Indonesia. 

  • Selamat Datang GLBTQI: Selamat Datang was created to show support for GLBTQI people in Indonesia and their struggle for acceptance in Indonesian society. Recently, the national Constitutional Court narrowly rejected a petition to have homosexual acts banned. The backlash from this has been phenomenal. There is now a debate being conducted by the national House of Representatives to introduce a new criminal code which would seek to ban homosexual acts between two consenting adults. Selamat Datang used their float to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQI community in Indonesia. 
  • Trans Sydney Pride: TSP is a Sydney based social and support group founded by binary transpeople for binary, non-binary and gender queer transpeople. Their vision was to create a Trans Army in response to the Trump Administration’s position on trans people serving in the military. 
  • twenty10: twenty10 provides social support, counseling, housing and mental health support for young LGBTQI people in Sydney. Their Parade entry was themed; 'Flaming Futures: Be yourself but don’t leave anyone behind!' and depicted what an evolved future free of discrimination and oppression could look like.
Disability rights, similar to LGBTIQ rights, have evolved substantially over the last four decades and PWDA aimed to celebrate and embrace this with their entry.
  • People With Disability Australia: PWDA’s float theme was “Evolution to Inclusion”. Disability rights, similar to LGBTIQ rights, have evolved substantially over the last four decades and PWDA aimed to celebrate and embrace this with their entry.
  • Departure Lounge: This float proudly proclaims “Rock Out With Your Croc Out” and will showcase the unique and fabulous LGBTQIA+ community in the Northern Territory. With a large contingent of locals from the NT attending, including many Sista Girls and Brotha Boys from the Tiwi Islands, Daly River and other remote parts of the NT, the float was led by a giant inflatable Territory Crocodile. 
FOBGAYS' float transformed into a giant colourful wedding party, called a baraat, traveling down Oxford Street.
  • FOBGAYS: FOBGAYS is a grassroots community network of Friends and Family of Brown (South Asian) LGBTQI identifying people. Their float transformed into a giant colourful wedding party, called a baraat, traveling down Oxford Street in celebration of marriage equality.
  • In Memory of Carmen Rupe: A grand dame of Mardi Gras, Carmen Rupe was a legendary Kiwi icon who called Sydney home for most of her life and who passed away five years ago. This float celebrated the life of this trailblazer who spent her life championing equality.
  • Inner City Legal Centre: The ICLC is a non-profit community based legal centre who have been helping provide support to the LGBTQI community for over 30 years. Their float saw participants dressed in their 70’s finest in celebration of the original 1978 marchers as well as the significant LGBTI law reform that has occurred over the past 40 years.
The Itty Bitty Titty Committee's float was a homage, with a twist, to the 2017 hit TV series 'The Handmaid's Tale'.
  • Itty Bitty Titty Committee: The title of this float is 'The Handmaid's (Fairy) Tale'. The float was a homage, with a twist, to the 2017 hit TV series, 'The Handmaid's Tale' and featured lesbian handmaids who are happy, gay and free, unlike the imprisoned characters in the show. 
  • Tasmanian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby Group: TGLRG’s float celebrated LGBTQI Tasmanians and the 30th anniversary of the formation of the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, Tasmania’s leading LGBTQI rights group.
  • The Kirby Institute: The Kirby Institute has worked closely with the LGBTI community towards eradicating HIV and other infectious diseases in Australia and globally. The theme of their float was “Agents of Change” and aimed to highlight and celebrate developments in HIV prevention and treatment over the years.

It is the enormous diversity of groups and the enthusiasm they bring that make Sydney Mardi Gras such a special event, and it was fabulous for everyone at Google to be able to make a difference to their participation this year.

Anil Sabharwal announced as new engineering site lead of Google Australia

Anil Sabharwal, Vice President of Product at Google, has been appointed the new lead for Google’s 700 engineers in Australia.

Having recently relocated to Sydney from the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Anil will also continue to lead Google’s global efforts in personal communications and photos.
Anil returns to Sydney from Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, where he led the team that created Google Photos.
Anil joined Google Australia in 2009 and spent four years in Sydney before relocating to Mountain View, where he led the team that conceived, built, and launched Google Photos in 2015. Google Photos has grown more than 500 million monthly active users, who upload more than a billion photos and videos daily. More recently his responsibilities expanded to Google’s connectivity and communications portfolio, which includes products and efforts such as Duo, RCS and Project Fi.

Anil said: “I’m thrilled to be home! The site has grown tremendously in the last five years and I can’t wait to jump in and support the amazing work that’s being done across projects like Chrome, Maps, and our products for the Next Billion Users. Australia has some of the most talented engineers in the world, and our Sydney office will continue to work on efforts that make big impact at a global scale.”
Alan has led the engineering team in Australia since 2007, overseeing its growth from just 20 engineers to more than 700 today.
Anil will replace director of engineering Alan Noble, who is departing Google Australia after 11 years to focus on the expansion of his non-profit organisation AusOcean. Alan has been site lead of the engineering corps at Google in Sydney since 2007, during which time it has grown significantly in size and scope.

Alan Noble said: “It’s wonderful to have Anil back in Australia - his presence here presents a fantastic opportunity to further showcase the amazing work done by Australian engineering teams across Google globally. For me, the decision to leave was not easy, let alone saying goodbye to the many incredible people I get to work with every day. But I felt that after 11 wonderful years at Google, and a few more decades tinkering around technology, the time was right to turn my focus towards my other great passion - protecting our oceans!”

Building robots and future STEM careers with Balga kids

Computer science and robotics can lead to a world of opportunities. But you don’t have to just be interested in them to make the most of them - Google, for example, employs lots of people who come from all kinds of backgrounds: people who love everything from music, to medicine, to motors!

At Google, of course, we do love technology, and we think that computer science will be a key part of the future of everything from education and health to government, transportation - even music and art!
Google's Sally-Ann Williams (left) with Senator Michaelia Cash (centre-left) and Schools Plus CEO Rosemary Conn (centre-right) get a robotics demonstration from students at Balga Senior High School. 
So we were thrilled to announce today - at an event attended by Senator the Honourable Michaelia Cash, Federal Minister for Jobs and Innovation - that we have partnered with the nonprofit organisation Schools Plus to support a STEM-themed after school program and Robotics Club at Perth’s Balga Senior High School.

We’re providing $25,000 in funding as well as mentoring and professional development with some of our amazing Google colleagues as Balga SHS aims to introduce at least two hours' a week of STEM education for its Year Seven students.
Balga SHS aims to introduce at least two hours' a week of STEM education for its Year Seven students.
Over the past fifteen years, Google and its 1,300+ employees have partnered with a number of nonprofit organisations across the country, and we look forward to working with Schools Plus, a group backed by David Gonski and other prominent Australians that calls for a stronger focus on philanthropy in education.

We've long been supporters of computer science and STEM education in Australia. Future innovations and inventions in Australia will come from students gaining skills in computer science today, and blending that with other disciplines to solve challenges the world faces now, and in the future.

We’re grateful to Schools Plus for bringing this exciting opportunity to us and we can’t wait to work with the Balga kids and teachers to do great things with technology.
Google, Schools Plus and Balga announced the funding and additional support at an assembly attended by staff and students.

More than just a way to pay: the new Google Pay app arrives Down Under

Fast, simple checkout. Easy access to rewards and offers. One spot for purchases, passes, and payment methods. All of these are ways we’ve been working to make paying safer and easier for everyone, everywhere. And you can make the most of these features with the new Google Pay app for Android. 

The app, which begins rolling out today, is just one part of everything we’ve got planned. We’re currently working on bringing Google Pay to all Google products, so whether you’re shopping on Chrome or with your Assistant, you’ll have a consistent checkout experience using the cards saved to your Google Account. We’re also working with partners online and in stores, so you’ll see Google Pay on sites, in apps, and at your favourite places around the world. 

As we continue to expand to even more devices and services, the new app offers an exciting glimpse of what’s to come. Here’s a closer look.

Helpful info while you shop 

Google Pay’s new “Home” tab gives you the info you need, right when you need it. See your recent purchases, find nearby stores, and enjoy easy access to rewards. 

A new spot for your stuff 

The “Cards” tab is an easy way to keep everything you need at checkout organized and at the ready. From credit and debit cards to loyalty programs, offers, and even that stack of gift cards from last year’s birthday, you’ll never miss a chance to save with Google Pay. 

A faster way to pay your fare in London (and others soon)

Use Google Pay on transit when you travel in London (with more cities soon), and stop worrying about your pass once and for all. Now all you need at the turnstile is the device that’s already in your hand. 

Google security and encryption 

Like all Google products, Google Pay comes with strong security protections at its core to safeguard your account and personal data from security threats. In other words, it’s got your back. 

All your favourite features 

Longtime Android Pay fans, fear not: the features you love aren’t going away. You’ll still get all your bank’s perks and protections, plus an extra layer of security, since Google Pay doesn’t share your actual card number when you pay in stores. And those online forms that take forever to fill out? Just choose Google Pay at checkout and pay with a few quick clicks instead. 

We’ll continuously be working to bring you new features in the app. For instance, if you live in the US or the UK, you’ll be able to use it to send and request money within the next few months. In the meantime, the Wallet app is now called Google Pay Send, and we’ve given it a fresh coat of paint to go with the Google Pay brand.

And if you’re a developer or business owner interested in accepting Google Pay, you’ll find all the tools you need on our developer site — or you can work with Shopify to make integration even easier.

To use Google Pay you’ll need to download the Google Pay app on Google Play, and have an eligible Mastercard, Visa, American Express or eftpos card from one of more than 50 supported banks and credit unions including ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac. More banks are being added all the time.

Ready to try the Google Pay app? Get it on Google Play today

Posted by Gerardo Capiel Product Management Director, Consumer Payments and Varouj Chitilian Engineering Director, Consumer Payments

Promoting pride and respect with artificial intelligence

At Google, we think everyone should be able to express themselves online, so we want to make conversations more inclusive. Sometimes the labels we use to describe ourselves and our loved ones can be used to harass people online - but technology can help.

We launched Project Respect at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Fair Day.
We’re kicking off Project Respect at the 2018 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to help make conversations more inclusive. We’ll be asking people to write a statement about themselves, or someone they love and respect, to help reclaim positive identity labels.

Googlers Kirstin Sillitoe and Sam Worne help to launch Project Respect.
These statements will contribute to an open source data set, which coders, developers and technologists all over the world can use to help teach artificial intelligence models how the LGBTIQ+ community speak about themselves.

One of those AI algorithms is called Perspective, a tool that is currently being offered on a limited basis to international news websites to assist them in their moderation efforts. One of its uses is to highlight the toxicity of a comment to you, while you’re writing it. That gives you, as the writer, an opportunity to reflect, reconsider and edit your comment, making conversations more inclusive.

Perspective helps to highlight the possible toxicity of a comment, while you're writing it.
And while Project Respect began in Sydney, it’s also being rolled out to places like New Zealand and India, meaning the data we gather will represent the LGBTIQ+ community on a global scale. Google is a proud supporter of the LGBTIQ+ community through our sponsorship of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Community Parade Grants.

At Google, we encourage people to bring their whole selves to work. In all of our offices around the world we are committed to cultivating a work environment where Googlers can be themselves and thrive.

We also want our employees to have the same inclusive experience outside of the office, and for LGBTIQ+ communities to be safe and to be accepted wherever they are, both in the world around us and online.

The Google team behind Project Respect.
It’s been so great working alongside such a talented, passionate team to bring Project Respect to life. Many of us on the team identify as LGBTIQ+ - including me - and so we’ve experienced both the pride of being part of that community, and some of the challenges, first hand.

I grew up in an era when the word ‘queer’ was being (rightly!) reclaimed - and because the people who’ve gone before me fought that fight, I can now use that word with pride!

So I’m shouting about Project Respect to everyone … the more data we have from our own community, the more our online conversations will be a true reflection of the language we are proud to use.”

Don’t forget to visit Project Respect and share your statement.

Safer Internet Day: Create, connect and share respect

The theme for Safer Internet Day this year is particularly meaningful to us here at Google.

From cyberbullying to social networking, each year Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness of emerging online issues and chooses a topic reflecting current concerns.

This year's theme - "Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you" - is a call to action for everyone to play their part in creating a better internet for all web users, in particular the youngest out there. More than that, it is an invitation for everyone to join in and engage with others in a respectful way in order to ensure a better digital experience.

This year we invited some of Australia’s most popular YouTubers - Elly Awesome, Slaiman and Kate, Jayden Rodrigues, Jamie and The Scran Line - to talk about the ups and downs of sharing their lives online - and in return we shared some love from their fans!

YouTube has always encouraged you to report content you think is inappropriate. Once you’ve flagged a video, it’s submitted for review to YouTube staff who then carefully look at the content to determine whether there’s a violation of YouTube’s Community Guidelines to see if it should be removed. You can also flag individual comments under any video for abuse or spam.

Perspective uses machine learning to try to measure the impact of a comment, and see whether it might be perceived as toxic.
We are also training machine learning algorithms to proactively identify toxic comments. “Perspective” is an early stage API and can be used to highlight the toxicity of a comment to you while you are writing it which provides an opportunity to reconsider your comment.

In addition to promoting a culture of respect online, we have always believed that you should have the ability to take control of your digital experiences, and have invested in tools and resources to help you do just that.

YouTube encourages viewers to flag content they feel is inappropriate.
We recognise that children may share your home computer or frequently use the apps on your phone, and we have developed Safe Search and Restricted Mode on YouTube to filter out mature results from appearing in searches.

And of course we work closely with organisations such as The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, Project Rockit, Kids Helpline and ReachOut to ensure that children and young people are receiving the best advice about being safe and respectful online.

Please take some time, not just today but everyday, to consider how your words and actions can impact others; a better Internet starts with you.

Back to school with Google for Education

As the 2018 school year kicks off we’re counting down some of last year’s education highlights 

Bag packed, pencils labelled and lunchbox ready… As students start returning to school this week, we’re taking a look back at five of the top Google for Education moments from 2017 in Australia and New Zealand.

In 2017...

  1. Educators were empowered to teach digital skills, with new professional development programs and resources. We awarded 22 Computer Science for High Schools (CS4HS) grants in Australia and 5 CS4HS grants in New Zealand and launched Careers with Code 2017 to every high school in Australia and New Zealand. We also saw 20,000 teachers enroll in the CSER MOOCs
  2. In New Zealand, we worked with the government to implement the digital technologies curriculum and hosted a ceremony for recent graduates of Manaiakalani Digital Teaching Academy - a program which provides new teachers with a year of teaching and training in a full immersion digital environment.  
  3. Online safety is front and centre for students, parents and teachers and we supported partners to develop online wellbeing programs for young people, including Project Rockit TV; a series of short videos addressing issues such as bullying and online behaviour. Kiwi students also had access to an online cyber bullying quiz to gain their digital license with the launch of the program in New Zealand, while the Generation Next seminar series and accompanying YouTube channel provided resources to empower students as ambassadors for mental health and wellbeing within their schools. 
  4. Schools told us that they wanted to learn more about Google’s education tools, so we visited classrooms from Bendigo to Rotorua during the Google Reimagining Education with Technology tour across 12 cities. Thousands of educators shared and learned together at Education On Air and EduTECH
  5. Last but not least, Chromebooks arrived in more classrooms, helping students access learning opportunities and supporting innovative teaching approaches. In New Zealand, Chromebooks were named as the number one selling education device in schools, while in Australia, all secondary students across Canberra Public Schools will receive a Chromebook, starting in Term 1 2018. Globally, more than 25 million students are using Chromebooks and over 30 million teachers and students use Google Classroom. 
We’re always inspired by the great work that educators and students do - both inside and outside of the classroom - and we look forward to supporting innovation in education in 2018 and beyond.

There goes the school bell!

Posted by Suan Yeo, Head of Education, Google Australia and New Zealand

Explore Victoria’s treasured national parks with today’s Google Doodle

January 26 holds different meanings and memories for Australians. You might be solemnly reflecting on our history, firing up the barbie – or perhaps, it’s just an ordinary day.

Whatever your walk of life, what binds all Australians is our love of our nature. Our bush, our parks, oceans and wildlife have shaped us – both physically and culturally.

Last year, our Doodle celebrated our big blue backyard, the Great Barrier Reef. Today, we’re continuing our Street View journey to Port Campbell National Park and Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.  With guidance from Parks Victoria, today’s Doodle celebrates the unique terrain, flora and fauna of these precious parks.

Located along the southwest coast of Victoria, the park’s cliffside viewpoints overlook its most iconic sight: seven pillars of stacked limestone, battered by wind and waves, that rise above the crashing surf. Below the surface is a seascape of canyons, caves, arches, and fissures – which are home to marine life such as sea urchins, lobsters, and abalone.  On the beach, visitors may spot the rare hooded plover at the water’s edge – one of many endemic species found only in Australia. Today’s Doodle depicts a trio of hooded dotterels and is framed by the vibrant, endemic purple clover glycine.

However you choose to spend today, we invite you to click on the link below today’s Google Doodle to explore the trails, cliffs and vistas of Port Campbell National Park and Twelve Apostles Marine National Park on Street View.

Posted by Camilla Ibrahim, Communications & Public Affairs Manager, Google Australia & New Zealand