The Department of Communities (Housing) is helping to connect and empower people in remote communities through a laptop donation initiative, enabling community members to access important information and services, and improve their literacy and numeracy skills.
The Mowanjum community, 10 kilometres south-east of Derby and home to the Worrorra, Wunambal and Ngarinyin people, was the first to benefit from this initiative.
In partnership with the Boab Network, the Mowanjum community established a Community Resource Centre, which provides a place for meetings and training, along with a dedicated Centrelink phone, printer and computer with free access to government and banking websites.
Housing has joined the partnership, donating 35 second-hand laptops, which have been restored and updated with Windows 7, MS Office and other software with licenses organised by the Boab Network.
Some laptops will be provided at cost price to residents so they can access important information and services, such as government websites, online banking, driver’s licence information and Centrelink services.
The remainder will be retained by the Community Resource Centre where they will be available to the whole community. The centre also has an external aerial which provides Wi-Fi access for the community.
Housing’s Client Services North and Aboriginal Housing Director Peter Lonsdale said it was a great initiative.
"It is not only helping people in remote communities enjoy the benefits of internet access through the recent connection to the NBN, improve their computer literacy and learn new skills, but is helping build stronger connections within and outside the community,” Mr Lonsdale said.
Boab Network Chair Dr Richard Smith said it was great to work in partnership with Housing.
"In time, we hope to add software on the laptops to help people improve their literacy and numeracy, particularly to encourage success at school,” he said. “The support from Housing is much appreciated."
This simple idea of donating laptops is a small step towards empowering Aboriginal people in remote communities to genuinely make a difference to their lives and improve their social and economic outcomes.
Through the Boab Network, this initiative has since expanded to other communities in the region.