Tack­ling in­dige­nous IT gap

Broome Advertiser - - News - Jakeb Wad­dell

A group of keen learn­ers with a hard drive to ex­cel di­alled up on their com­puter skills re­cently and im­ported a gi­ga­byte of knowl­edge in a crash course on all things dig­i­tal.

The Univer­sity of Notre Dame Aus­tralia teamed up with Perth­based con­sul­tant Il­lu­mi­nance So­lu­tions to run the first of its two-day dig­i­tal lit­er­acy classes at its Broome cam­pus last week, aimed at tack­ling a gap in IT knowl­edge fac­ing in­dige­nous com­mu­nity mem­bers.

The pro­gram fo­cused on es­sen­tial tools in­clud­ing Mi­crosoft Word, Ex­cel, Pow­er­Point, email, on­line bank­ing and in­for­ma­tion stor­age to bol­ster the em­ploy­a­bil­ity and skills of lo­cal Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple as the na­tion be­comes in­creas­ingly dig­i­tal.

Eigh­teen par­tic­i­pants com­pleted the course last Tues­day — the first of four ex­pected to be held at the Broome cam­pus this year.

IS chief ex­ec­u­tive Nilesh Makwana said he did not ex­pect the level of turnout and en­gage­ment at the in­au­gu­ral class. It was cru­cial to of­fer First Na­tions peo­ple equal op­por­tu­nity in ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment by boost­ing their com­puter skills, he said.

“Un­for­tu­nately, there is a dig­i­tal di­vide emerg­ing in Aus­tralia, par­tic­u­larly among Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties, with the prob­lem com­pounded by the rapid rate of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments,” he said.

Bio­phys­i­cal and so­cial sci­en­tist Dr Anne Poelina was one who com­pleted the course, which she said had been help­ful for her daily work. “I wanted a for­mal process for learn­ing these sets of dig­i­tal skills and came in with a very open mind about it,” she said.

“I picked up im­por­tant ideas in terms of how to be more pro­fes­sional in the way I pro­duce in­for­ma­tion.” The 62-year-old said she had taught her­self to use com­put­ers when tech­nol­ogy be­gan to ad­vance in the coun­try.

UNDA chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Clare Stan­ford said dig­i­tal lit­er­acy was a cru­cial com­po­nent in tack­ling ge­o­graphic dis­ad­van­tage in the re­gion. “Notre Dame’s

Broome Cam­pus has a mis­sion to sup­port rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and we there­fore have an im­por­tant role to play in over­com­ing the chal­lenges that many Kim­ber­ley peo­ple have in ac­cess­ing and us­ing dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies,” she said.

Pic­ture: Jakeb Wad­dell

Par­tic­i­pants in the Il­lu­mi­nance So­lu­tions dig­i­tal lit­er­acy classes in Broome.

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