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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1364 ..

MRS BURKE (continuing):

consultations, and many of these groups are also often classified as being in poverty. The task force believes that the solution is to develop a more dynamic social policy agenda, targeting communities and families and individuals disadvantaged by the so-called digital divide. It is envisaged that business, government and the community sectors will work together in developing this.

The task force strategies were to adopt an incremental approach to implementing digital divide initiatives that included, but not exclusively, identifying target groups and their needs; focusing on highest priority/critical needs of the most in need target groups and developing several major initiatives which cover these requirements; linking the ACT poverty task force report; and identifying links between education, income and age factors.

The task force recognised that there are significant opportunities to leverage off other ACT government programs, both existing and in the 2001-02 budget-that is, for organisations to cooperate in the development of digital initiatives using both existing resources and, where available, some additional resource, for example ACT library services, the Centre for IT Excellence, CIT Virtual Campus, Canberra Connect, Schools as Communities, Community Online, PoGo Generation x~plore (the youth Internet portal) and other community IT access projects.

Underlining the task force strategic approach, a package of specific service delivery initiatives were also developed and are implicit in the recommendations. The task force set out many recommendations and key initiatives in its report, which is currently being considered by the Chief Minister. The task force believes that the adoption of some or all of the recommendations and key initiatives will represent a giant leap in bridging the digital divide in the ACT.

Recommendations included:

allocation of funds to provide IT hardware, software and telecommunications access costs to identified government and community public access locations across Canberra, to enable their customers to have better access to the Internet;

establishment of a roving trainer's program to provide awareness raising, training and education to enable members of the public to receive training at identified government and community public access locations;

in addition to targeted funding allocations, establishment of a grant program for community groups to develop proposals to address the digital divide-proposals which may include initiatives which enable awareness raising, training and education programs and the provision of computer and Internet access targeted to the needs of the most disadvantaged sectors of the identified target groups, including the aged;

funding for enhancements to ACT government public library IT facilities, including additional PCs, large-screen monitors and specialised equipment for people with disabilities and seniors, to enhance IT and Internet access in ACT public libraries;

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