Tag Archives: Australia

Holidays with Home: The number of Aussies using Google Home almost tripled over the festive season

Google Home had a huge holiday season in 2017. Whether you were cooking, casting or caroling, it gave you a helping hand, turning on the Christmas tree lights – and filling many, many stockings.
In fact, the number of Aussies regularly using Google Home and Google Home Mini nearly tripled in the month of December. And around the world, we sold more than one Google Home device per second since Google Home Mini started shipping in October.
Since we first introduced you to the Google Assistant on Google Home in 2017, we’ve added loads of features and apps.
One of the most popular features is broadcast; where it hopefully helped you gather the family for holiday fun. If you haven’t used it yet, it’s simple to use. Just say “Ok Google, broadcast sausage sangas are served!” to round up the family for a BBQ. Another popular one is step-by-step recipes, which give you voice-activated cooking instructions so you can free up your hands, lessen the mess and stay focused on making that perfect pavlova.
Everyone was excited about the first ever true blue Aussie smart speaker, and we’ve kept that spirit alive with Google Assistant features across a range of local brands and services across news, entertainment, banking, retail, transportation and more. You can catch the latest headlines with leading Aussie news publications, follow the footy with AFL (by Telstra), play Triple J via TuneIn, binge watch Aussie shows on Stan, plan a night out with Concrete Playground and more.
All in all, today there are more than a million Actions that your Assistant can help you do. Actions including everything from first party features to third party features — all the ways your Assistant can help. Plus, the Assistant can also help you control more than 1,500 compatible smart home devices from over 225 brands. With these integrations, millions of new smart home devices are being connected to the Assistant every month, so you can stay in control, whether you want to cool down the house or make sure you locked the back door.
We’ve sold tens of millions of all our Google devices for the home over the last year around the world, and look forward to bringing hands-free help to even more Aussie households in 2018. Whether you are planning your commute, kneading dough or chilling out after a long day, Google Home is here to help you make the most of the new year.

A New Approach to YouTube Monetisation

There’s no denying 2017 was a difficult year, with several issues affecting our community and our advertising partners. We are passionate about protecting our users, advertisers and creators and making sure YouTube is not a place that can be co-opted by bad actors. While we took several steps last year to protect advertisers from inappropriate content, we know we need to do more to ensure that their ads run alongside content that reflects their values. As we mentioned in December, we needed a fresh approach to advertising on YouTube. Today, we are announcing three significant changes.

Stricter criteria for monetisation on YouTube 
After careful consideration and extended conversations with advertisers and creators, we’re making big changes to the process that determines which channels can run ads on YouTube. Previously, channels had to reach 10,000 total views to be eligible for the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). It’s been clear over the last few months that we need the right requirements and better signals to identify the channels that have earned the right to run ads. Instead of basing acceptance purely on views, we want to take channel size, audience engagement, and creator behavior into consideration to determine eligibility for ads.

That’s why starting today, new channels will need to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months to be eligible for ads. We will begin enforcing these new requirements for existing channels in YPP beginning February 20th, 2018.

Of course, size alone is not enough to determine whether a channel is suitable for advertising. We will closely monitor signals like community strikes, spam, and other abuse flags to ensure they comply with our policies. Both new and existing YPP channels will be automatically evaluated under this strict criteria and if we find a channel repeatedly or egregiously violates our community guidelines, we will remove that channel from YPP. As always, if the account has been issued three community guidelines strikes, we will remove that user’s accounts and channels from YouTube.

This combination of hard-to-game user signals and improved abuse indicators will help us reward the creators who make engaging content while preventing bad actors and spammers from gaming the system in order to monetise unsuitable content. While this new approach will affect a significant number of channels eligible to run ads, the creators who will remain part of YPP represent more than 95% of YouTube's reach for advertisers.

Those of you who want more details, can find additional information in our Help Centre.

Manually reviewing Google Preferred 
We’re changing Google Preferred so that it not only offers the most popular content on YouTube, but also the most vetted. We created Google Preferred to surface YouTube's most engaging channels and to help our customers easily reach our most passionate audiences. Moving forward, the channels included in Google Preferred will be manually reviewed and ads will only run on videos that have been verified to meet our ad-friendly guidelines. We expect to complete manual reviews of Google Preferred channels and videos by mid-February in the U.S. and by the end of March in all other markets where Google Preferred is offered.

Greater transparency and simpler controls over where ads appear 
We know advertisers want simpler and more transparent controls. In the coming months, we will introduce a three-tier suitability system that allows advertisers to reflect their view of appropriate placements for their brand, while understanding potential reach trade offs.

We also know we need to offer advertisers transparency regarding where their ads run. We’ve begun working with trusted vendors to provide third-party brand safety reporting on YouTube. We're currently in a beta with Integral Ad Science (IAS) and we're planning to launch a beta with DoubleVerify soon. We are also exploring partnerships with OpenSlate, comScore and Moat and look forward to scaling our third-party measurement offerings over the course of the year. The challenges we faced in 2017 have helped us make tough but necessary changes in 2018. These changes will help us better fulfill the promise YouTube holds for advertisers: the chance to reach over 1.5 billion people around the world who are truly engaged with content they love. We value the partnership and patience of all our advertisers to date and look forward to strengthening those ties throughout 2018.

Year in Search: The moments that defined 2017 in Australia

From from slime to sport, covfefe to cryptocurrency and hurricanes to hot cross buns – Aussies searched for an eclectic bunch of topics this year.

’Tis that time of year again, to look back at the moments that had us fascinated, dumbfounded and over the moon in 2017. It was the year we pined for slime, whirled fidget spinners and were hungry Shepherd's pie. We celebrated sport, looked into bitcoin and mourned senseless tragedies. From cyclones to tofu to covfefe, this year’s trending searches are mix of obvious, surprising, intriguing – and downright confusing – queries.

Here's a wrap-up of six topics that caught Aussies' attention and brought us together in Search in 2017:

Fun, games and fidget spinners 

Sayonara stress balls! Fidgets spinners were the toy craze of 2017. ‘Fidget spinner’ appeared on three of the top trending lists, as Aussies asked what they are and even how to DIY. We also had a quirky obsession with slime and became quite the connoisseurs – searching for fluffy, borax-free and glue-free alternatives.

On the sports field, Aussies cheered on the tennis, horse racing, boxing, AFL, cricket and rugby. We searched on the sidelines of the Australian Open and Wimbledon and placed our bets for Melbourne Cup (which landed the top three trending searches overall).

Aussie, Kiwi and International Figures 

In Australia, Sophie Monk found true love on The Bachelorette, and first place on the list of trending searches for Aussie people. As we searched for people around the world, we danced with Ed Sheeran, hailed Wonder Woman and said goodbye to Hugh Hefner. We also bid farewell to legends of music, comedy and sport – including Chris Cornell, John Clarke and Malcolm Young.

Customs and traditions

‘How to…?’ searches show Aussies were keen to have their say on the same sex marriage vote. And in light of the change the date debate, we also asked why Australia Day is on January 26. We also wondered why our Anzac Day pub tradition, Two Up, is illegal.

The tough times 

We often turned to search in to find answers when we were lost for words. We navigated natural disasters, watching Cyclone Debbie, Hurricane Irma and Bali’s volcano. And in the wake of attacks, we showed our support through search for London, Las Vegas and Manchester.

Big questions, complex topics 

Aussies sunk their teeth into some serious subject matter in 2017. We grappled political tension in our searches for North Korea, we wrapped our heads around bitcoin – and looked to learn about Sharia Law. We also asked what DACA is (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) – and as we followed Trump’s feeds, we just had to know... what is covfefe!?

Quiche, Cod and Kimchi

It seems Aussie palettes have embraced the 80’s, as the top trending recipes included Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Cacciatore and Quiche Lorraine. Interestingly, contemporary ingredients and flavours feature across top trending lists for ‘How to make…?’ and ‘What is…?” – including eggplant, salmon, smoked cod, lentils, fennel and kimchi. Aussies also showed their health consciousness, asking what MSG is and why it is bad. And that’s just a preview.

To dive into the top trending terms of the year, check out Australia's full trending lists*:

  1. Australian Open 2017 
  2. Melbourne Cup 2017 
  3. Wimbledon 2017 
  4. Fidget spinner 
  5. Cyclone Debbie 
  6. iPhone 8 
  7. North Korea 
  8. Chris Cornell 
  9. iPhone X 
  10. Amazon Australia site 
  1. Cyclone Debbie 
  2. North Korea 
  3. Amazon Australia site 
  4. Hurricane Irma 
  5. Bali volcano 
  6. London 
  7. Las Vegas 
  8. Manchester 
  9. UK election 
  10. Schapelle Corby 
Global people 
  1. Harvey Weinstein 
  2. Ed Sheeran 
  3. Kevin Spacey 
  4. Gal Gadot 
  5. Floyd Mayweather 
  6. Jake Paul 
  7. Post Malone 
  8. Pippa Middleton 
  9. Boy George 
  10. Macklemore 
  1. Sophie Monk 
  2. Kate Fischer 
  3. Schapelle Corby 
  4. Ben McCormack 
  5. Dustin Martin 
  6. Cassie Sainsbury 
  7. Lisa Wilkinson 
  8. Paul Hogan 
  9. Katherine Langford 
  10. Amber Sherlock 
  1. Chris Cornell 
  2. Hugh Hefner 
  3. Chester Bennington 
  4. Tom Petty 
  5. Bill Paxton 
  6. David Cassidy 
  7. Nicky Hayden 
  8. John Clarke 
  9. Rich Piana 
  10. Malcolm Young 
Sporting events 
  1. Australian Open 2017 
  2. Melbourne Cup 2017 
  3. Wimbledon 2017 
  4. Mayweather McGregor fight 
  5. AFL Grand Final 2017 
  6. US Open 2017 Tennis 
  7. Mundine vs Green 2 
  8. ICC Champions Trophy 2017 
  9. AFL Fixtures 2017 
  10. Rugby League World Cup 2017 
How to....? 
  1. How to make slime 
  2. How to make a fidget spinner 
  3. How to make fluffy slime 
  4. How to watch Mayweather vs McGregor 
  5. How to buy Bitcoin 
  6. How to make slime without borax 
  7. How to use Snapchat map 
  8. How to unblock people on Instagram 
  9. How to make slime without glue 
  10. How to vote for gay marriage 
What is…?
  1. What is MSG 
  2. What is Bitcoin 
  3. What is kimchi 
  4. What is a publican 
  5. What is covfefe 
  6. What is a fidget spinner 
  7. What is MSG and why is it bad 
  8. What is Sharia law 
  9. What is DACA 
  10. What is good friday 
Why is…? 
  1. Why is Pandora shutting down 
  2. Why is Club Penguin shutting down 
  3. Why is Australia Day on 26 January 
  4. Why is it called Good Friday 
  5. Why is Nathan Lyon Garry 
  6. Why is my poop green 
  7. Why is Messenger crashing 
  8. Why is Snapchat down 
  9. Why is two up illegal 
  10. Why is my internet so slow 
  1. Beef Stroganoff 
  2. Hot cross bun 
  3. Hollandaise sauce 
  4. Chilli con carne 
  5. Chicken Cacciatore 
  6. Bechamel sauce 
  7. Chicken parmigiana 
  8. Shepherd's pie 
  9. Beef Bourguignon 
  10. Quiche Lorraine 
How to cook…?
  1. How to cook tofu 
  2. How to cook eggplant 
  3. How to cook pasta 
  4. How to cook rice in microwave 
  5. How to cook smoked cod 
  6. How to cook silverside 
  7. How to cook lentils 
  8. How to cook salmon fillets 
  9. How to cook fennel 
  10. How to cook rhubarb 

* Trending Searches: What was hot in 2017? The "trending" queries are the searches that had the highest spike in traffic over a sustained period in 2017 as compared to 2016.

Calling for 2018 CS Educator Grant applications

Google has long supported the Digital Technologies Curriculum in Australia to equip and inspire students. The Digital Technologies Curriculum focuses on computational thinking and computer science to provide students with the opportunity to develop skills needed for the jobs of the future.
Our annual CS educator professional development (PD) grant program (formerly known as CS4HS) is designed to increase access to CS education by funding computer science professional development programs for educators and support them in the curriculum implementation. More than 9,000 educators in Australia and New Zealand have benefited from training by expert PD providers dedicated to growing the confidence and skillset of new and future CS educators.
Today, we’re excited to announce our 2018 funding cycle is open to universities, schools and nonprofits in around Australia and New Zealand. Applications will close on the 2 March 2018. To learn more about the application process head to the website.
The impact of PD grants for educators
Emil Zankov, an educator at Pedare Christian College, sees his role as one to engage and build creative minds. In 2014 he set out to introduce computer science and computational thinking into classrooms around Adelaide through a Google funded CS educator PD grant.
Emil Zankov, an educator at Pedare Christian College in South Australia.
Bringing together local educators for hands on workshops and talks mapped to the digital technologies curriculum, Emil was able to “express a range of skills developed over a number of years” and he found that “having colleagues sharing their practice and then providing them time for productive discussion was seen as important and a difference to traditional conferences.”
Having now run four CS PD workshops, Emil has grown his network and developed a community of passionate educators around Adelaide to empower students with STEM skills, which he believes will allow students to “create something impactful, creative and inspirational.”

A crabtivating journey: Street View joins a crab migration of millions on Christmas Island

From herds of elephants in Kenya to penguins in the Arctic and frogs in the Amazon, the Street View Trekker has met some charming characters on its journeys around the world.  This week, Street View is venturing to Christmas Island, a remote Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, to join more than 45 million local residents for their annual trip from the forests to seas. Christmas Island’s famous, endemic red crabs have begun their once-a-year migration.

For most of the year, these land crabs stay burrowed in Christmas Island’s lush damp forests to preserve body moisture and protect themselves from harsh sunlight. But each year, they emerge from the forest to march to the sea to spawn near the coastal waters. These bright red residents wait patiently for a precise alignment of the rains, moon cycle and tides to commence their journey. They’re starting to paint the town red and Dr. Alasdair Grigg on behalf of Parks Australia, is carrying the Street View Trekker to collect imagery of this yearly miracle for all to see. The migration concludes on the ocean shores when the highest density of crabs spawn and lay their eggs in the sand—a finale forecasted for December 13.

The volume of red crabs presents unprecedented conditions for the Street View image capture. As crabs crowd the roads, boardwalks and beaches, each step must be taken with care. Fortunately, crabs have right of way on Christmas Island, and Parks Australia has built walls and fencing along roads to direct the crossers to safety.

Parks Australia Ranger, Dr Alasdair Grigg, capturing the crab migration with the Google Trekker in the rainforest.

Parks Australia Ranger, Dr Grigg, holding a female crab carrying eggs in the abdomen.

A red crab taking a dip in the Indian Ocean

Whether you’re in Ballarat, Bogota or Berlin, soon you’ll be able to experience the Christmas Island crab migration, and its grand finale (the spawning) on Street View. We invite you to join this marvelous march—and see why Sir David Attenborough calls this phenomenon one of the “most astonishing and wonderful sights.” You can expect to see the imagery from this collection on Street View in early 2018.

YouTube Rewind: Aussies loved skits, tricks and Superwog in 2017

From Donald Trump to ping pong trick shots, 2017 was a year of marvelous mashups, clever tricks and homegrown comedic skits. As we wind down the year, it’s time to hit rewind and celebrate the videos that made Aussies laugh, sing – and scratch their heads. #YouTubeRewind is our annual roundup of the YouTube videos that trended over the last 12 months, according to time spent watching, sharing, commenting, liking and more.

Australia’s Top Trending Videos

Among the mix of educational tips and eccentric talents, 2017 was the time for Aussie creators to shine. With their irreverent skits, comedic duo Superwog took centerstage in the Top Trending videos – landing first, second and sixth places.

Aussies also tuned into global trends, including karaoke, talent shows and viral memes. We made light of mean celebrity tweets, poked fun at a political mashup – and sang along with Ed Sheeran on Carpool Karaoke. We also shared in an extraordinary ping pong victory, cheered on a 12 year old ventriloquist – and explored existential questions with Bill Wurtz’s quirky illustration of the history of the world.

  1. Superwog Series Pilot
  2. If Superwog was a Teacher
  3. "INAUGURATION DAY" — A Bad Lip Reading of Donald Trump's Inauguration
  4. Celebrities Read Mean Tweets #11
  5. Ping Pong Trick Shots 3 | Dude Perfect
  6. Border Security (Superwog)
  7. Ed Sheeran Carpool Karaoke
  8. history of the entire world, i guess
  9. Darci Lynne: 12-Year-Old Singing Ventriloquist Gets Golden Buzzer - America's Got Talent 2017
  10. Content Cop - Jake Paul

Australia’s Top Music Videos

In 2017, we were hooked on Ed Sheeran’s dulcet tunes, with ‘Shape of You’ making two appearances in Australia’s top trending music list. Unsurprisingly, party tracks kept us grooving, with DJ Khaled, The Chainsmokers, Justin Bieber, Jason Derulo drawing an online crowd. And despite only being released in late August, Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated comeback saw ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ come in at sixth.

  1. Ed Sheeran - Shape of You [Official Video]
  2. DJ Khaled - I'm the One ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne
  3. Bruno Mars - That’s What I Like [Official Video]
  4. Luis Fonsi - Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee
  5. The Chainsmokers & Coldplay - Something Just Like This (Lyric)
  6. Taylor Swift - Look What You Made Me Do
  7. Kendrick Lamar - HUMBLE.
  8. DJ Khaled - Wild Thoughts ft. Rihanna, Bryson Tiller
  9. Ed Sheeran - Shape Of You [Official Lyric Video]
  10. Jason Derulo - Swalla (feat. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign) (Official Music Video)

Top Emerging Australian Creators

For the first time, #YouTubeRewind also examined the growth of local channels to unearth the top 10 Trending Aussie YouTube Creators for 2017. Five out of ten of the top channels are in the gaming and animation category – with ‘Wolfychu’ landing the number one spot. We also tuned into make-up tips and tricks from BEAUTY NEWS, which came in second.

  1. Wolfychu
  3. XtremeGamez
  4. Zeus
  5. Freya Haley
  6. But Without
  7. Ollie Ritchie
  8. Eystreem
  9. Robot Army
  10. CultureCrash

Stay tuned to see the YouTube’s Rewind video, celebrating the top memes and moments of the year from around the world!  

Expanding our work against abuse of our platform

As the CEO of YouTube, I’ve seen how our open platform has been a force for creativity, learning and access to information. I’ve seen how activists have used it to advocate for social change, mobilize protests, and document war crimes. I’ve seen how it serves as both an entertainment destination and a video library for the world. I’ve seen how it has expanded economic opportunity, allowing small businesses to market and sell their goods across borders. And I’ve seen how it has helped enlighten my children, giving them a bigger, broader understanding of our world and the billions who inhabit it.

But I’ve also seen up-close that there can be another, more troubling, side of YouTube’s openness. I’ve seen how some bad actors are exploiting our openness to mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm.

In the last year, we took actions to protect our community against violent or extremist content, testing new systems to combat emerging and evolving threats. We tightened our policies on what content can appear on our platform, or earn revenue for creators. We increased our enforcement teams. And we invested in powerful new machine learning technology to scale the efforts of our human moderators to take down videos and comments that violate our policies.

Now, we are applying the lessons we’ve learned from our work fighting violent extremism content over the last year in order to tackle other problematic content. Our goal is to stay one step ahead of bad actors, making it harder for policy-violating content to surface or remain on YouTube.

More people reviewing more content 
Human reviewers remain essential to both removing content and training machine learning systems because human judgment is critical to making contextualized decisions on content. Since June, our trust and safety teams have manually reviewed nearly 2 million videos for violent extremist content, helping train our machine-learning technology to identify similar videos in the future. We are also taking aggressive action on comments, launching new comment moderation tools and in some cases shutting down comments altogether. In the last few weeks we’ve used machine learning to help human reviewers find and terminate hundreds of accounts and shut down hundreds of thousands of comments. Our teams also work closely with NCMEC, the IWF, and other child safety organizations around the world to report predatory behavior and accounts to the correct law enforcement agencies.

We will continue the significant growth of our teams into next year, with the goal of bringing the total number of people across Google working to address content that might violate our policies to over 10,000 in 2018.

At the same time, we are expanding the network of academics, industry groups and subject matter experts who we can learn from and support to help us better understand emerging issues.

Tackling issues at scale 
We will use our cutting-edge machine learning more widely to allow us to quickly and efficiently remove content that violates our guidelines. In June we deployed this technology to flag violent extremist content for human review and we’ve seen tremendous progress.

  • Since June we have removed over 150,000 videos for violent extremism. 
  • Machine learning is helping our human reviewers remove nearly five times as many videos than they were previously. 
  • Today, 98 percent of the videos we remove for violent extremism are flagged by our machine-learning algorithms. 
  • Our advances in machine learning let us now take down nearly 70 percent of violent extremist content within eight hours of upload and nearly half of it in two hours and we continue to accelerate that speed. 
  • Since we started using machine learning to flag violent and extremist content in June, the technology has reviewed and flagged content that would have taken 180,000 people working 40 hours a week to assess. 
Because we have seen these positive results, we have begun training machine-learning technology across other challenging content areas, including child safety and hate speech.

Greater transparency 

We understand that people want a clearer view of how we’re tackling problematic content. Our Community Guidelines give users notice about what we do not allow on our platforms and we want to share more information about how these are enforced. That’s why in 2018 we will be creating a regular report where we will provide more aggregate data about the flags we receive and the actions we take to remove videos and comments that violate our content policies. We are looking into developing additional tools to help bring even more transparency around flagged content. 

A new approach to advertising on YouTube 

We’re also taking actions to protect advertisers and creators from inappropriate content. We want advertisers to have peace of mind that their ads are running alongside content that reflects their brand’s values. Equally, we want to give creators confidence that their revenue won’t be hurt by the actions of bad actors. 

We believe this requires a new approach to advertising on YouTube, carefully considering which channels and videos are eligible for advertising. We are planning to apply stricter criteria, conduct more manual curation, while also significantly ramping up our team of ad reviewers to ensure ads are only running where they should. This will also help vetted creators see more stability around their revenue. It’s important we get this right for both advertisers and creators, and over the next few weeks, we’ll be speaking with both to hone this approach. 

We are taking these actions because it’s the right thing to do. Creators make incredible content that builds global fan bases. Fans come to YouTube to watch, share, and engage with this content. Advertisers, who want to reach those people, fund this creator economy. Each of these groups is essential to YouTube’s creative ecosystem—none can thrive on YouTube without the other—and all three deserve our best efforts. 

As challenges to our platform evolve and change, our enforcement methods must and will evolve to respond to them. But no matter what challenges emerge, our commitment to combat them will be sustained and unwavering. We will take the steps necessary to protect our community and ensure that YouTube continues to be a place where creators, advertisers, and viewers can thrive. 

Celebrating Australia’s most innovative regional businesses in 2017

A gourmet garlic producer in regional New South Wales, an indigenous textile designer from the Northern Territory and a luxury tourism operator on Tasmania’s Bruny Island… This year’s Regional Online Heroes are leading the way in using the web to innovate and grow.

Australian businesses are realising the benefits of getting online, using the internet to reach customers near and far. Research shows that digitally engaged small businesses are more likely to be growing, which is great news for jobs and local communities.

Businesses in regional Australia have much to gain from getting online and many are already using the web in innovative ways. That’s why, for the third year in a row, we’ve teamed up with the Regional Australia Institute to find SMBs that are doing great things online.

In November, we announced the ten Regional Online Heroes finalists:

  • The Bruny Island Long Weekend - a boutique tourism provider supporting sustainable tourism on Bruny Island; 
  • Birth Beat - a midwife using the internet to bring childbirth education to expectant parents across the country; 
  • Erilan Mastectomy Collection - a unique clothing retailer fitting and supplying prostheses, lingerie and clothing for women who have undergone breast surgery; 
  • Garlicious Grown - friends producing and selling black garlic products, from paddock to plate across Australia and overseas; 
  • Graziher - a magazine publisher sharing the stories of women living in rural and remote parts of Australia; 
  • The Lake House Denmark - a family-owned winery, cellar door, restaurant and café promoting and selling their gourmet products online; 
  • Magpie Goose - a social enterprise showcasing and celebrating Indigenous culture through its clothing range, designed and created in remote Aboriginal communities; 
  • One Hour Out - an online travel guide sharing the hidden gems of regional Victoria; 
  • Pointer Remote Roles - an online platform helping connect businesses with the best person to fill a vacant role regardless of location; and 
  • VetShop Australia - a one-stop pet and vet shop, stocking a range of products and creating educational videos to help pet owners locally and overseas. 

On Friday, these business owners came together for an exclusive masterclass at the Google office in Sydney, where they had the chance to share their stories and develop new digital skills.

Our panel of esteemed judges included The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Minister for Small Business; Jack Archer, CEO of the Regional Australia Institute; Jane Cay, Founder of Birdsnest; David Koch, TV host and business advocate; and Dr Sandra Phillips, Leading Indigenous Scholar at QUT.

We were delighted to announce Magpie Goose as the 2017 Regional Online Hero. Magpie Goose is a social enterprise from the Northern Territory creating bright, bold, statement clothing from fabric designed and hand screen printed in remote Aboriginal communities.

Minister for Small Business, the Hon Michael McCormack MP said Magpie Goose is a great example of how businesses can succeed in regional Australia.

“This year’s entries really demonstrate how small businesses are embracing technological advances and online connectivity in regional and rural Australia to target new and emerging markets,” Mr McCormack said.

More than 100 businesses from across Australia applied, with fantastic examples of how the internet is helping their business grow and prosper.

For more information check out the Regional Online Heroes visit the website. Congratulations again to our amazing online heroes!

An eye fit for Liberty

Fourteen weeks into my wife Ashleigh’s pregnancy, she woke up one night and said, “we are having a girl, and we are going to name her Liberty.” A few months later, she turned out to be right—as she often is.

Ashleigh’s pregnancy was without complication. However, at only one week old, Liberty was diagnosed with Bilateral Microphthalmia, a rare eye condition. She needed a prosthetic eye to assist with facial growth, which meant we needed to find an ocularist, someone who specializes in the crafting and fitting of prosthetic eyes. What ensued was two years of ups and downs for Liberty and eventual hopelessness for us, as the eyes Liberty got after the first year weren’t fitting properly, and caused her extreme pain. During one dreadful appointment, Liberty was fitted with a mismatched eye that was bulging out of her head. After a silent four-hour drive back home with Ashleigh in tears and myself full of anger and determination, I decided I was going to start making Liberty's eye for her.

That night, I started searching on Google for tools and supplies I would need, and videos from people in the field to study. Eventually I found the most useful tool in my training—YouTube—and a video posted by John Pacey-Lowrie, a renowned ocularist from the U.K. He had posted a couple of clips from his clinic detailing his unique method of eye-making, which borrowed techniques dentists use to make prosthetic teeth. John used YouTube to broadcast his technique and attract more talent into the ocularist field. It was his videos, and later apprenticeship, that took my training to the next level.

Late one night, I walked in from the garage and presented Ashleigh with “the eye,” the best one I’d made a year of attempting John’s technique. Ashleigh was my only quality control at the time, and she examined the eye closely before finally giving me the greenlight to try it on Liberty the next day. 

Sure enough, the eye not only fit, but looked great.

The more I worked on Liberty’s eyes, the more I thought about helping other people in need. I didn’t want anyone to go through the pain our family did. Learning this craft went from being a necessity to a passion to an entirely new career.

Which is what we’re doing now. Ashleigh and I have recently opened our own clinic, Oculus Prosthetics, where our patients are young children and adults alike. We treat those with Liberty’s condition, as well as patients with retinoblastoma and other eye traumas. I’m also borrowing a page from John’s playbook and sharing what I’ve learned on YouTube, to help other patients and parents of children in need.

As a parent, you want your kids to look and feel as normal as possible. Liberty remains an extraordinarily empathetic little girl who blows us away daily with her strength and enthusiasm for life, despite all the challenges she has faced. Liberty loves meeting friends just like her, and especially loves bragging about the eye her father made her.


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.