29 July 2022

Canberra's community organisations given funding to combat digital exclusion

| Aiden Rothnie
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Various ACT community organisations have been given funding to update, upgrade or improve the technology they use. Photo: Supplied.

Nearly $500,000 has been distributed to various Canberran communities and individuals to help upgrade and improve technology across the capital.

This money has been set aside as part of the Technology Upgrade Fund which aims to assist with digital exclusion, improve digital literacy and build technological capacity across the capital.

The grant has funded various Canberran communities in their push to upgrade their dated, aging, or in some cases non-existent tech capabilities.

Both ACT Volunteering and Spinal Cord Injuries Australia have been lucky enough to receive some funding from the Tech Upgrade Fund.

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Jean Giese, CEO of Volunteering ACT said money from the Tech Upgrade Grant would give them the ability to fully update their information hub.

“The Community Info Hub is a physical public space that is about providing accessible, reliable, and up-to-date community information of referrals for people who need it whatever form it takes,” she said.

“Through the funds, we were able to modernise our public computers and we were also able to modernise and update the computers that volunteers use.”

Ms Giese said it was great to be given the opportunity to update their IT capabilities and better serve the community that uses the Info Hub.

A major concern of the program is digital exclusion. As we become more reliant on technology, those who are unable to use or afford this tech will become excluded from the greater community.

Both Volunteering ACT and NeuroMoves have dedicated their funding to make their services more accessible to the greater community.

Jessica Bingley, Team Leader of NeuroMoves explained that telehealth had become important for health services to be up to speed with.

“A lot of our services are delivered face to face. So for us, it was a big shift to sort of, get on to the technological side of things and being able to provide our clients [our services and for them to] provide our service to people remotely,” she said.

“The tech upgrade for us is about enhancing our systems and providing us with the equipment to run these telehealth sessions.”

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Emma Davidson, Greens MLA for Murrumbidgee said community services facilitate people during times of great stress and need to be up to date on technology.

“In difficult situations, it’s often our community sector organisations that people turn to first, so we want to make sure that our community sector has the resources it will need,” she said.

“It’s our responsibility as a community to remove as many barriers for people as possible without getting access to what they need.”

The program has given grant funding to over 60 recipients this year for tech upgrades ranging from website upgrades to completely new infrastructure.

The program will be run until 2024, with a budget of just below $500,000 for community services each year.

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