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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2339 ..

ACT Digital Divide Task Force Report

Ministerial statement and government response

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer): Mr Speaker, I ask for leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement concerning the ACT Digital Divide Task Force report.

Leave granted.

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank members. Mr Speaker, I am presenting today the government's response to the ACT Digital Divide Task Force report. This special government task force was appointed by me in January 2001 to investigate how best to bridge the digital divide within the Canberra community.

The task force report presented to me by the task force chair, Mrs Jacqui Burke, on 23 April 2001 outlines a program implementation framework to develop future ACT digital divide initiatives. This framework comprises governance, policy development and service delivery elements.

The task force recommended the funding of a number of specific service delivery initiatives. These initiatives are targeted at those digital divide groups which have the highest priority or most critical needs. These target groups include: those with less education, those on lower incomes, seniors, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people with disabilities, people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, single parent families, people with low literacy, people with low computer skills and experience, people without permanent housing, women, and young people.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to announce that the government supports in principle all the recommendations of the Digital Divide Task Force report. The government considers that the task force report provides a measured and appropriate response to bridging the digital divide in the ACT.

The governance and policy development recommendations in the task force report will provide a broad, comprehensive and robust framework in which to develop future programs to overcome the digital divide in the ACT.

However, the government's priority focus, which was clearly outlined in my January 2001 announcement of the Digital Divide Task Force, is to provide targeted initiatives which meet the requirements of the identified digital divide target groups.

The government strongly endorses the task force report findings that:

the principle of ensuring universal access by the public to government service delivery arrangements, such as the public libraries and Canberra Connect, offers considerable opportunity and capacity for the digital divide target groups to benefit from such services; and

these identified groups also have additional special needs and requirements over and above those of the general community. These special needs could best be met by developing specific initiatives which meet those requirements.

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