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New program helping bridge digital gap for Aussies with disability

2 min read

The Benevolent Society has partnered with non-profit organisation WorkVentures to launch a new Digital Inclusion Program to support people with disability achieve their goals with plans already underway to expand the program further to reach more people in need.

With the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting that 1.1 million (28.5 per cent) people with disability do not use the internet, the initiative aims to boost digital inclusion for people with disability who do not have access to devices and connectivity and have limited digital literacy skills.

Participating clients from The Benevolent Society receive a free laptop computer, 12 months of free Internet connection, as well as ongoing training and technical support by trained coaches from Work Ventures. The program, which began in November 2023, is already supporting more than 60 Disability Services clients across metropolitan and regional areas of New South Wales and South Australia.

Jeremy Halcrow, Executive Director, Strategy and Quality, The Benevolent Society, said: “With services, including finance, education and health, increasingly being delivered online, it’s more important than ever that no one gets left behind.

“Our Digital Inclusion Program is removing barriers to digital access for people with disability so they can become more confident finding the information and services they need online and to help them engage with friends, family, health practitioners, schools or networks so they can participate equally in the digital world. We’re extremely proud to partner with WorkVentures to bring this program to life and to widen the program’s reach to support more people in the future.”

Jacob Muller, Director of Technology & Social Impact Solutions at WorkVentures, said: “Digital inclusion is more than just access to devices and connectivity; it’s about ensuring that everyone has the skills and support to thrive in the digital age. Through this partnership, we’re proud to contribute to the holistic empowerment of people with disabilities, enabling them to reap the benefits of the online world with confidence and independence.”

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with clients, particularly those in rural areas, reporting increased connectivity with support networks in the community. And children, like Oliver, are using their laptops to learn new skills like counting.

Plans are now underway to broaden the scope and scale of the program to include other client groups. The second phase will focus on supporting more than 100 of our clients from the Women’s Space in Labrador, Queensland and the NDIS Early Childhood Approach (ECA) Program in the following South East Queensland regions: Logan City, Redland City, Brisbane City and Moreton Bay Regional Council areas.

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.

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