Community Technology Centres Program

About this Item
SubjectsTechnology; Community Centres; Rural Conditions; Information technology
SpeakersFazio The Hon Amanda

Page: 3431

    The Hon. AMANDA FAZIO [5.11 p.m.]: In recent months I have had the opportunity to either open or present awards at a number of community technology centres [CTCs] in New South Wales. For those who are not familiar with CTCs, the New South Wales Community Technology Centre Program [CTC@NSW] is a partnership made up of the New South Wales Government, the Commonwealth Government and regional New South Wales communities. Through the partnership, small regional New South Wales communities are supported in planning, gaining seed funding and implementing community-owned information technology enterprises that provide communities with the ability to enhance service and program delivery in their towns.

    CTC@NSW improves the social, economic and cultural life of small regional New South Wales towns through the implementation of local information technology infrastructure that enhances service and program access. It supports small regional towns in taking up the opportunities of the new information economy through community designed and planned facilities. The Commonwealth Government, through its Networking the Nation Program, has provided $8.25 million to CTC@NSW as seed funding for CTC establishment. CTC@NSW manages the funding program and development work with communities through the New South Wales Government funding of $7.2 million. CTC@NSW was launched in March 2001 and has been funded up to June 2004.

    In May 2001, CTC@NSW was successful in gaining further funding of $1.29 million from the Networking the Nation Program for business planning and recapitalisation programs for existing telecentres, the establishment of a videoconferencing network based in CTC@NSW network centres, and the establishment of a number of specific purpose learning centres. CTCs provide community members, business groups and organisations with access to affordable, quality information technology for services and programs that enhance community access to services and programs such as online New South Wales government services, business services, training programs, e-commerce incubators, online banking, teleworking, web site development services, virtual office facilities, youth programs, and digital media facilities.

    On 12 March this year I had the pleasure of opening the CTC at Tambar Springs, a small village in the electorate of Upper Hunter, which is in the Gunnedah council area. The level of community involvement in that small village, which is commendable, shows what a group of committed people can do to ensure that their locality does not miss out on the opportunity to embrace new technologies and the advantages that that brings for all residents, regardless of age or familiarity with new technologies. The access that people like those have to technology through CTCs will help to build strong communities outside the metropolitan area and in larger regional centres. It is part of the State Government's commitment to rural New South Wales to ensure that equal access, regardless of where one lives, becomes part and parcel of the delivery of government services.

    In August I had the privilege of presenting awards to winners in the CTC photographic competition, which this year had the theme "Things We Do Together". That competition was run by 28 community technology centres across New South Wales. Young people had the chance to participate in the competition through their local community technology centres as part of the 2003 Youth Week celebrations and throughout the Easter school holidays. The competition encouraged young people to make use of digital cameras, scanners, computers and a wide range of other technologies. The competition was divided into two categories—best photograph and best digital photograph.

    The centres participating in this year's event were Boorowa, Bowraville, Canowindra, Cobar, Coonabarabran, Delegate, Dungog, Eden, Gundagai, Guyra, Hay, Ivanhoe, Khancoban, Lake Cargelligo, Lithgow, Merriwa, Mudgee, Mullumbimby, Narromine, Oberon, Port Stephens, Tambar Springs, Tibooburra, Tweed Valley, Ulladulla, Walcha, West Wyalong and Wilcannia. Over 470 entries were received from across the State. In Mullumbimby I presented awards to two young winning photographers. In the 15 to 18 age group Nelson McKev was the winner with his photograph "Butterflies". In the 19 to 25 age group, Aimo Kostiainen was the winner with his photograph "Tyagarah Reflections". Two other young photographers, Steve Kostiainen and Kimba Kuhlamnn, were runners-up.

    In Mudgee I presented an award to another young talented photographer. In the 15 to 18 age group Nicole Thompson was the winner with her photograph "The Show". The winners in the major categories were presented with certificates, framed copies of their winning photographs and a digital camera, so that they can continue to develop their skills in photography. All entrants in the competition were presented with achievement certificates. Last Saturday I represented the Minister for Commerce at the opening of the Tea Gardens CTC, which was also attended by Bob Baldwin, Federal member for Paterson. The Tea Gardens CTC is now part of a network of 88 community technology centres across regional New South Wales. Eighty-eight small towns and villages now have access to a range of information technology equipment and services and expert advice to help them keep abreast of the cyber world. None of those centres would have got to first base without a lot of hard work by local committees and a team of volunteers.

    That was certainly the case in Tea Gardens. I congratulate the Tea Gardens CTC committee on its commitment, patience and hard work in getting the centre off the ground and up and running. Through that commitment the initial steering committee was successful in gaining State and Federal funding of $150,000 to give the project a kick-start and to help make its vision a reality. I also note the significant support given to the project by the Port Stephens Masonic Lodge. The official opening of the centre signalled a marvellous day for the whole Tea Gardens community and it coincided with the inaugural Myall River Festival and the opening of an art walk along the riverbank, which will play a major part in the festival in years to come.