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The Telstra Foundation has committed $8m to fund the rollout of version for public libraries of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation's eSmart School system, developed to help schools counter cyber-bullying and protect pupils from the evils of the online world.

Over the next six years, the two foundations will work with Australia's 1,500 public libraries to roll out eSmart Libraries and "connect local communities with the skills they need for smart, safe and responsible use of technology." They plan to pilot eSmart Libraries in 20 clusters of libraries in early 2013 and then roll it out Australia-wide.

Telstra Foundation chairman, Geoff Booth, said: "Libraries are vital community hubs and play a key role in bridging the digital divide. The Telstra Foundation recognises the online digital world is changing the way we work, socialise, communicate, transact and organise our lives and this fast-changing environment presents new risks.

"This partnership, through eSmart Libraries, will give more Australians the opportunity to experience the social and economic benefits of new communications technologies whilst making the online library experience more inclusive and safer for everyone."

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation's CEO, Dr Judith Slocombe, said: "eSmart Libraries is an extension of eSmart Schools, which The Alannah and Madeline Foundation has made available to all Australian schools in 2011. Since the national rollout of eSmart Schools, more than 1,400 schools across all states have adopted eSmart, with more schools coming on board each week."

eSmart Schools is described as "an easy-to-use, evidence-based and tested system to help schools manage cybersafety and deal with cyberbullying and bullying...[and that] provides a framework for schools to implement whole-school culture and behaviour change relevant to the smart, safe and responsible use of digital technologies."

It was developed by the Alannah and Madeline Foundation with the RMIT School of Education and "many cybersafety and education experts."

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