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About Digital Enterprise

What are we doing?

Digital Enterprise: Pathways to Education and Employment for Young People with Disabilities is a national program funded by the Australian Government Department of Education under the Broadband- Enabled Education and Skills Service Program. It is a joint initiative led by the University of South Australia and involving four universities, two registered training organisations, state government and not for profit community organisations in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria and New South Wales. Digital Enterprise programs have been established in four technology-enabled locations, in four states, to provide learning programs in technology and entrepreneurship for groups of young people who have Autism Spectrum Disorders and related disabilities.

Through challenging and developing their IT and entrepreneurial skills, the program aims to foster their sense of personal initiative, reduce isolation and increase their rate of participation in further education and employment. Digital Enterprise builds on the success of "The Lab” technology clubs, which started in Melbourne in 2011, for young people with High Functioning Autism. Young people who have completed "The Lab” program have experienced enhanced technical skills, increased self-efficacy and confidence, improved motivation at school and the sense of new possibilities for the future. Parents have also benefited in terms of mutual support from other parents. Digital Enterprise is extending these benefits to other young people with Autism Spectrum Disorders who would like to access training that will significantly develop their technical abilities and entrepreneurial skills.

For those who are aged 16 to 35, who will complete a program of entrepreneurship training, the program will open up a range of post-school options including enhanced employability, capacity to establish new businesses, and pathways to further education. More information on this entrepreneurship program is provided here.

The Digital Enterprise program is new and so we can find out how well it works, we are asking you to participate in a series of assessments and to contribute your experience of the program. We are interested in the difference it makes to your life and to your family. The information we receive will enable us to improve the educational curriculum, resources and tools, including skills development lessons and activity guides. It will also enable us to develop a program for improving the education and employment prospects of young people with a disability that can be applied in other locations, including schools and TAFE.

We will be asking participants to fill out detailed questionnaires with our Research Assistant on admission and two times during the program. This will take approximately two hours each time. Our Research Assistant will be asking participants questions about their wellbeing, their relationships and social networks, their engagement in learning, their perceptions of their performance and achievement of personal goals. This information will be strictly confidential and participants’ data will be identified only by a code. Twice during the program, there will also be an opportunity for participants and their parents to discuss their experience of the program and provide feedback in a group interview, which will be audio recorded.

We will use this information to improve the program for you. In addition, towards the end of the program, we will ask both participants and their parent(s) to take part in an individual interview, about their experience, which will be audio- recorded. o information, which could identify participants will be released, unless required by law. Audio recordings and transcripts will be kept in secure digital storage for five years after which time they will be destroyed

Are there any risks?

The program is being offered as an educational opportunity and we do not anticipate any risks to the participants beyond some mild frustration and challenge normal in a learning situation, but more difficult for those with a disability. Our mentors are experienced in working with young people with a disability and have support services they can call on if necessary. All information about you will be kept confidential, except where there is a requirement by law for it to tell someone, where there is a concern to your wellbeing and safety. In the event that child abuse is disclosed during the course of the study mandatory notification procedures will be enacted. We anticipate that there will be some interest by the media in the Digital Enterprise program. Any interaction with the media will be purely voluntary and is not expected.

From time to time photographs will be taken of participants in the Digital Enterprise program, to use in promotional material and presentations. Participants will not be identified by name and photographs will be taken in such a way that individuals cannot be identified. No photographs, video or audio recordings of participants under the age of 18, will be used without parental permission.

You can download a printable version of the information in this website here.

We are sorry but applications for the Digital Enterprise program have now closed.

More information
For more information please contact the Chief Investigator Professor Denise Wood. Telephone: (08) 8302 4642(08) 378 4541 Email: d.wood@cqu.edu.au

This project has been approved by the University of South Australia's Human Research Ethics Committee. If you have any ethical concerns about the project or questions about your rights as a participant please contact the Executive Officer of this Committee, Tel: +61 8 8302 3118+61 8 8302 3118; Email: vicki.allen@unisa.edu.au