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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2340 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

The government also endorses the task force approach that developing a social policy agenda for IT disadvantaged communities and families is the preferred solution to bridge the digital divide in the ACT. The task force has recommended a package of targeted and specific initiatives in these contexts.

Mr Speaker, the government has agreed to fund these initiatives to a total of $800,000 in 2001-2002 as follows:

$300,000 will be allocated for the provision of IT hardware, software and Internet access to key identified government and community public access locations across Canberra. My department will consult with peak community groups, including ACTCOSS, to determine the most suitable locations based on criteria including: sustainability within an organisation, logical geographic spread, target group's service delivery and capacity to implement quickly.

$200,000 for a community grant program to enable ACT community organisations to develop innovative proposals targeted to the needs of the most disadvantaged sectors of the identified target groups, including seniors, people with disabilities and other groups which have unique requirements. Proposals may include initiatives which enable awareness raising, training and education programs and the provision of computer and Internet access.

$100,000 for the provision of a roving trainers program-to provide awareness raising training and education-to enable members of the public to receive training at the key identified government and community public access locations. This will be an independent program coordinated by the Canberra Institute of Technology with skilled trainers; there will be no additional requirements on existing staff at these locations to provide this training.

The government and community public access program and the community digital divide grant program will, for the first time, enable members of disadvantaged groups to have access to computers and the Internet in their own community facilities. This will encourage people who have not previously tried computers or the Internet to learn about and use online services in familiar surroundings with their relatives or friends. Basic IT and Internet training will also be provided to assist this through the roving trainers program.

$120,000 will be provided to enhance facilities for ACT public libraries. This will increase the number of IT access terminals in public libraries by 50 per cent to 48 terminals located in nine locations throughout Canberra.

Importantly, this initiative will also enable public libraries to be equipped with a range of adaptive technology to assist the vision impaired and people with physical and cognitive disabilities to access IT and the Internet. This includes 21-inch screens, wheelchair accessible desks, a screen magnifying program, virtual keyboards and text decoders.

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