Digital Inclusion and Participation: Keyword Series – Forum 3 – ‘VOICE'

Keyword series – Forum #3 – ‘Voice’

Zoom Link

Each quarter, the DMRC’s Digital Inclusion and Participation program runs a seminar that involves and engages scholars and practitioners from within and external to QUT, including from inter-state and overseas. For each event we select a key word to inspire discussion and debate.

Our third forum will be on Thursday 2nd September 2021 from 10.00 to 11.30am (AEST) and will focus on the keyword ‘voice’. The intent is to evoke thought and discourse about how digital participation can give a voice to marginalised individuals, but also silence or misrepresent certain sectors of the community.

The key word event will be a 90-minute Zoom seminar comprising of three speakers: an established researcher, a higher degree researcher, and an industry practitioner. Each panel member will speak for 15 minutes addressing the theme of ‘voice’ in relation to their field of work or research. This will be followed by 30 mins of Q&A from the audience.

The forum with be hosted by Prof Michael Dezuanni, Dr Amber Marshall and Dr Kim Osman.

Topic introduction: Digital participation and voice

: (

Noun: An expression of opinion, or the right to express your opinion

Verb: To say what you think about a particular subject

Digital participation refers to the ways people use digital media and technology as part of their everyday lives in order to: stay informed; remain connected to family, friends, and community; purchase goods and services; gain an education; participate as digital citizens; seek employment or remain employed in contemporary work settings; and access government services (Dezuanni et al., 2017).

Digital participation – through various platforms, media, channels, and technologies – enables some individuals to have a voice in debates that matter them in areas as diverse as sports, arts, entertainment, human rights, politics, and religion. From TikTok videos, and short films, to social media campaigns and citizen journalism, some groups excluded from participating in traditional media discourses can have their voices heard.

But these same digital media platforms and structures also preference certain voices and participation is not equal for all people. Digital non-participation – which can occur for a variety of reasons relating to access, affordability, and digital ability – excludes some people from having a voice, including in debates that directly impact them. Marginalised groups may be represented by others with more influence and reach in the digital world, while some people are silenced altogether.

The current social media campaigns advocating for the Tamil family’s return to Biloela exemplifies the potential positive influence and amplification of voices through digital participation. Likewise, the voicing and re-voicing of damaging messages online in the form of hate speech and racism is equally powerful.

In a time when digital media are a primary vehicle for being heard and listening to others, the question of who is able to use their voice with influence, and who is not, remains pertinent.

Reference: Dezuanni, M., Foth, M., Mallan, K., & Hughes, H. (Eds.). (2017). Digital participation through social living labs: Valuing local knowledge, enhancing engagement. Chandos Publishing.


We will hear three diverse interpretations of the theme ‘Digital participation and voice’.

Dr Jessa Rogers CF is a Wiradjuri educator, consultant, researcher and board director. She is the Managing Director of Baayi Consulting. Dr Rogers sits on the Aboriginal Australian Studies Journal Editorial Advisory Board and the AIATSIS Publishing Advisory Committee. Dr Rogers also sits on the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, the AITSL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group, and the AHPRA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group. She is the recipient of a National NAIDOC Award and has been a Churchill Fellow and a Fulbright Scholar, based at Harvard University where she was a Fellow in Anthropology and with the Harvard University Native American Program (HUNAP).
Jo Westh is on a mission to help vulnerable people in our community, particularly girls and women who experience domestic violence or homelessness. She is convinced that connection can solve most of our problems. Launching 4 Voices, a charity whose focus is connection, in March 2020, a week before the world shut down due to COVID 19, wasn’t planned or ideal. Jo’s determination to build 4 Voices was fuelled by the previous experience she had at Orange Sky. Her son and his best mate put two washing machines and two dryers into the back of their old van and started washing clothes for people who were homeless in Brisbane. She happily helped them out for several years as CEO until Orange Sky grew to its current position. Jo learned a lot about homelessness whilst at Orange Sky and the immense difference that connection can make to a person who is marginalised by the majority of the community.
Abdul Aziz is a PhD candidate in the Digital Media Research Centre at QUT, Australia. He holds a master’s degree from University of Salzburg, Austria and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, in Digital Communication Leadership (DCLead) under the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s scholarship program. His research investigates digital media and forced migration, focusing on social justice, race & ethnicity, cultural diversity and digital inclusion. His recent papers have appeared in Technology in Society, Contemporary South Asia, and Communication, Culture and Critique. His doctoral research draws on a multi-sited qualitative approach to explore the Rohingya diaspora’s digital media use for identity negotiation and integration in Bangladesh and Australia.

About the DMRC’s Digital inclusion and participation program

Working in partnership with industry, government and community organisations, this program uses innovative digital ethnographic and co-design methods to understand, intervene, and advocate for digital access and literacy as vital elements of social inclusion. We help equip citizens and consumers with the knowledge and skills to confidently, effectively and ethically navigate the increasingly complex digital media environment; and we deliver actionable new knowledge of the structural conditions and circumstances that impact on equitable and safe participation in the digital society.