The spread of COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the health, jobs and lives of millions of Australians and people around the world. We’ve all had to make fundamental changes to the way we live and work, and businesses everywhere have been impacted. Yet we’ve also heard inspiring stories of health care workers on the front lines, businesses providing vital resources and support, and families and communities being there for one another—showing us that if everyone plays their part, we can and will get through this together.
The “Stay home, Save lives” Doodle on the Google Australia homepage 3-5 April
Overcoming a crisis of this scale will take a sustained effort, and we want to do everything we can to help. Since the virus first began to spread, our focus at Google has been on making sure people have the information and tools they need. But we know there’s much more work ahead.
Today, we’re sharing the actions we’re taking to support Australia both in the ongoing short-term response to the virus and in the longer-term, concentrating on three priorities:
- Promoting authoritative and reliable information;
- Supporting education and learning; and
- Contributing to business continuity and economic recovery.
Promoting authoritative and reliable information sources
It's crucial that people have access to health information they can trust online, so they can make the right decisions to protect themselves and those around them from COVID-19. We've surfaced the latest updates and health advice from government and health authorities, promoted awareness campaigns, shared travel advisories, and provided regular updates on the Search trends we are seeing as Australians look for help and information.
We’ve also provided ads credits to the Australian Government to help communicate information to the public, while the Department of Health’s Coronavirus Australia App, built on Google Cloud, provides real-time information and advice about the fast-changing pandemic.
To ensure Australians have access to all the latest information in one spot, we’ve launched a local COVID microsite featuring the latest updates and health resources. And we’re providing Community Mobility Reports that analyse aggregate, anonymised location history and provide local insights on the impact of social distancing.
Alongside our work to promote authoritative sources, we’ve stepped up our efforts to curb misinformation spreading on Google, YouTube or through apps on the Play Store. We have already taken down thousands of YouTube videos featuring dangerous or misleading coronavirus information since early February 2020, and continue to remove videos that promote medically unproven methods to prevent coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment.
We're building on these efforts in the months ahead to ensure people have access to reliable information. In Australia, we’re supporting the Australian Science Media Centre to connect fact-checkers and reporters to expert individuals and organisations around the COVID-19 crisis. We’re also supporting the Walkley Foundation as it provides crucial training and resources for journalists working remotely, and expanding our global investment in fact checking organisation First Draft to strengthen efforts to combat misinformation.
Supporting education and learning across Australia
Millions of Australian students are out of school because of restrictions on movement and gatherings. That’s putting pressure on families, schools and the incredible teachers who foster our children’s passion for learning.
To help teachers get the support they need to teach remotely, we’ve made tools like Hangouts Meet and Google Classroom available for free, provided training and tips through both Google and YouTube (and YouTube creators are getting on board too -- check out the latest tips from Eddie Woo), and launched Teach from Home with UNESCO as a central hub for teachers around the world.
We’ve also built a remote work hub on the Grow with Google Australia site to help people work, teach and learn from anywhere, along with a distance learning website that includes training materials and a new YouTube Learning Hub to help schools, teachers, parents and students. And we launched a local #StayHome #WithMe campaign on YouTube to help people feel more connected, entertained and informed during social distancing.
All schools in Australia have access to expedited G Suite for Education domain sign-ups (free) and we are working with education departments around the country to pre-approve school domains to help educators and learners continue their teaching and learning remotely and explore further opportunities for support.
We all know the power of great teachers and inspiring lessons, and we hope these steps will help our kids continue to learn from home, and return energised when school returns.
Contributing to business continuity and economic recovery
Small businesses are the heart of our economy and communities, from retailers to restaurants, and they've been among the hit hardest by the outbreak.
Google recently announced an $800 million commitment to support small businesses, health organisations and governments with access to finance, ad credits and grants to help meet the costs of the virus (small businesses can find more information here).
At the same time, we will be expanding our programs to train local small businesses in digital skills, provide them with cloud-based tools, and enable their employees to work remotely. We have launched a website to help Aussie businesses navigate through the uncertainty of COVID-19 and are working with business organisations such as the Business Council of Australia, ACCI and COSBOA to share resources that may be of assistance.
We have made the premium version of our video conferencing software Meet free to all of our Australian and global G Suite customers until September 2020, to allow large meetings, livestreams and meeting recordings.
More than 8,000 Australian not-for-profits enrolled in our Google for Nonprofits program also have access to these facilities. And we will be working with governments and NGOs to support relief initiatives and build economic resilience in the community, as well as matching our employees’ individual donations to charitable organisations.
Upholding our responsibility
COVID-19 puts intense demands on us all, and we’re determined to uphold our responsibility in this unprecedented time: to enable access to trusted information, support remote learning, back small businesses, and more. These initiatives are just the start. We continue working to help Australians deal with COVID-19 and shape a stronger future.