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Thursday, 03 September 2009 10:25

NEC broadband for seniors goes live

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NEC has set up kiosks at 40 locations around Australia where seniors can get training and access to online resources to help them use the Internet, with another 100 sites to go live by the end of this month, all as part of the federal government’s $15 million Broadband for Seniors initiative.

The Federal Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, officially unveiled some of the first live kiosks at Melbourne Legacy House today, along with representatives from Legacy, NEC Australia and learning partners Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association, University of the Third Age Online (U3A) and Adult Learning Australia.

Macklin said the deployment of the kiosks would “dramatically increase” the availability of internet services to seniors and “build their confidence in using the technology.”

Under the government initiative, NEC will deliver around 2,000 internet kiosks over two and a half years, and the company and the government have called on local community centres, organisations that are currently running computer services for seniors and anyone else that is interested in hosting kiosks, to register their interest, subject, of course to certain criteria, on a special website that has been set up.

The Minister said that 70 percent of Australians aged over 64 don’t use the internet, according to the World Internet Project 2008 report, and she said the Broadband for Seniors initiative was essential to improve internet skills amongst Australian seniors.

According to Melbourne Legacy president, Graeme Standish, “NEC’s new internet kiosks are going to give seniors the opportunity to not only improve their internet skills, but they will provide access to a range of services and information that are vital to their well-being. This initiative will break down the information and confidence barriers that exist for many senior Australians.”

And, according to NEC Australia group manager, David Cooke “NEC is leading the way to establish connected communities in Australia and Broadband for Seniors is a key part of this commitment. Along with our learning partners, we hope to establish a widely recognised education initiative to really improve the way seniors obtain information.”

Cooke said NEC was delivering and managing the Broadband for Seniors project with the support of adult learning institutions, providing contract management, project management, staff, technology and, through its 100 percent owned service provider Nextep, the national network for the project. He said Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association and U3A were providing face-to-face training materials and online training respectively, with rollout coordination by Adult Learning Australia.

According to Cooke, information on neighbourhood housing is available at the kiosks, along with information on libraries, bowling clubs, retirement villages and organisations representing activities in hospitals, as well as a “host of other useful information to improve quality of life for older Australians.

“e-health remains high on the federal government’s agenda but for it to be a success, it is vital that we first raise the IT literacy amongst the aged population who will be the biggest beneficiaries. Getting these sites live is a huge step towards providing an environment for seniors to have the confidence and ability to access services such as health information.”

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