From left: Conrad Bolton, Mayor of Narrabri Shire , John Welsh, Wee Waa SES Controller, the Hon. Barry O'Farrell, Premier of NSW, Tony Abbott, Prime Minister, Gary Wooldridge Pilliga Gwabegar CTC Manager & Board Member CTCA, Mark Coulton MP, the Hon. Kevin Humphries MP, Member for Barwon, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Healthy Lifestyles, and Minister for Western New South Wales.

Since early 2009, CTC Association has been working under a National Partnership Agreement to provide internet training and access to remote Aboriginal communities in western NSW. The Association's body of experience and expertise in internet connectivity issues in remote situations, in delivery of digital divide training, and in community management and governance oversight, has enabled it to run a highly effective and successful program.

You can see the remote Indigenous communities within the National Partnership on our map.  They are
  • Bourke – Alice Edwards Village
  • Brewarrina Barwon 4 & Brewarrina West
  • Walgett Namoi & Walgett Gingie 
  • Wilcannia Mallee & Wilcannia Warrali
  • Murrin Bridge
  • Enngonia
  • Goodooga
  • Menindee
  • Weilmoringle

The delivery model is based on a “ground up” approach where sites, training and support structures are determined by community.  Host site partnerships with Local Government, Aboriginal Corporations, Local Land Council’s, Training organisations, government agencies, employment organisations, youth clubs, men’s sheds, local schools etc provide venues. “Train the Trainer” programs for local people at each site support access. Hardware consists of low cost refurbished computers and subsidised software through donation programs like "Connecting Up". Training provided to participants is skills based – how to use a computer – online banking, email, internet etc.  All this means that dollars go a long way.

Community based centres - two or three in each community - become members of the CTC Association. Through it, they have access to phone, email and online support and resources, technical assistance, delivery and installation of refurbished computers, upgrades and training. Training is provided by rural community based CTC trainers and local trainers in facilities where people feel comfortable, outside under trees or at home through the CTC Laptop Library program.

The laptop library program provides laptops and/or desktop computers to people living within the communities that have disabilities, aged, undertaking education and training or community service activities. This allows people to have internet access, study or source information and funding in their homes. To provide this service WiFi is installed as most homes do not have telephone, ADSL or wireless internet services available.

Led by Gary Wooldridge from CTC@Pilliga, the program has had some remarkable outcomes.

Schooling to Year 12 and beyond

Learner driver licences 

Within NSW state debt recovery has provided the opportunity for people with debts to regain their driver licences. This required them to undertake the mandatory online RTA driver test. Most people within the discrete communities had no computer skills and/or low literacy skills. Having access to the internet where people could practice day after day, and local trainers' support while practicing the test and/or reading the questions llowed people to gain their license. There has been an astounding 98% success rate across all communities.

Vocational Training

Most trainers in the communities have taken the opportunity to go on and undertake certificate training to support their current position, gain new skills or for many volunteers – get a job

The courses have ranged from the basic life skills and attainment courses offered under the program to accessing online certificate courses in areas of business, financial management, administration, front line management, computer skills and web development.

Many of the people commented that if it had not been for this program providing the infrastructure, internet, technical support and continuity for three years they would never had attempted the training.

Engonnia CDEP Nuala Fernando, Gary Wooldridge, Gordon Sullivan,Diane Hambly Paul Schenk, Suzanne Booth

Employment Outcomes

Expanded and upgraded internet through the Community Technology Centres Association (CTCA) Laptop Library program

This has brought about increased computer literacy, increased awareness of online resources, training programs, educational programs, grant and funding opportunities, increased online transactions and communication with government agencies, business and commercial services, and increased online social interaction and use of social media.

The program ‘s direction for 2013 - 2014 is to support and coordinate more people to undertake certificate training.

There are a number of training providers that have offered courses within these communities but attendance has been very limited due to the formality of the environment and training schedules

Building on the success of the local CTC centres where community people regularly access training and the internet the NPA program will be focusing on supporting those centres to host accredited training courses.

Copyright Community Technology Centres Association 2011

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