The ACT Government is helping community organisations build their digital capacity and online presence to communicate better with the people they support via a $478,000 Technology Upgrade Fund.
Providing a total of $1.4 million over the next four years, the Fund aims to improve delivery of services and support to vulnerable people in the ACT, including people with disability, older people, carers, veterans, young people, multicultural groups, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“COVID-19 has changed how we communicate with one another,” Emma Davidson, ACT Assistant Minister for Seniors, Veterans, Families and Community Services, said. “More people use online services and channels to consume and share information. Working with the community sector will better equip the ACT Government to deliver a Fund that creates a more inclusive and accessible Canberra, creating opportunities for connectedness, belonging and active participation.”
ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell welcomed the announcement. Community organisations would be able to translate websites, increase their social media presence, or upgrade websites.
Dr Campbell said more Canberrans were in financial difficulty after the removal of the Coronavirus Supplement reduced income support payments while community services did not receive enough funding to operate properly. Some may have to cut staff; others could not afford to upgrade their systems.
“The Technology Upgrade Fund will go some way to help community organisations to purchase new technology to enable Canberrans facing disadvantage and vulnerability to access and receive the services that they need,” she said.
The government will inform the community sector of the scope, eligibility criteria and grant guidelines. A survey will identify what areas need a stronger focus and for whom, so the government can fund technological assets and programs to create greater access and inclusion for different cohorts.
“This is vital in ensuring the Fund meets the needs of the community sector organisations and the community members they support, including individuals with mobility constraints,” Ms Davidson said.
Once the ACT Government receives feedback from the community, they will roll out the Technology Upgrade Fund before 30 June.
The funding may cover:
- Hardware and infrastructure: Computers, laptop lending libraries, networking infrastructure, cloud-based technology, printers, photocopiers, whiteboards, projectors, modems, hardware to support people with mobility constraints.
- Software: Upgrade of computer operating systems, data collection software/databases, accounting packages, software to support people with mobility constraints.
- Communication platforms including websites and software for online webinars and other interactive activities.
- Digital Literacy Programs (especially for older Canberrans) such as training, mentoring and fact sheets.
- Systems to ensure security of client and sensitive data and reduce the threat of cybercrime.
- Technology to respond to immediate crises.
- Enable staff to work remotely in the absence of face-to-face direct service delivery and support to at-risk people in the ACT community.
The Technology Upgrade Fund is the next step in increasing digital capacity for the community sector, Ms Davidson said. It follows recent funding through the Participation (Digital Communities) and COVID-19 Stimulus Rapid Response Grants Programs to promote digital equity for all Canberrans. The initiative also aligns with the ACT Government’s Digital Strategy, which launched in March 2020 to create a more inclusive and connected Canberra.
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