Technology for social justice

Wattle Hill launched

Residents in public housing at Wattle Hill, Victoria, will now be able to access the internet and computers and take advantage of all the benefits it brings.

This technology, provided by the Wired Community @ Wattle Hill project, was launched today at Rentoul Hall, in Box Hill.

The Wired Community @ Wattle Hill is a digital inclusion initiative that aims to deliver equal and affordable access to computers and the internet to these residents.

In the initial stages of this demonstration project, 50 homes will be connected with Internet access and given a GreenPC computer with Microsoft contributing the software. One of the children who is to receive a computer was enthusiastic at the prospect of going online,

“I’m really excited about ABC3 and mathletics!” she says.

The project has come to life through a collaboration between the Whitehorse Community Health Service, the City of Whitehorse, the Department of Planning and Community Development, Deakin University and Infoxchange Australia.

Attending the launch was Lily D’Ambrosio, the Minister for Community Development, Bob Stensholt, the local MP for Burwood, Gillian Leach, CEO of The Whitehorse Community Health Service, Andrew Mahar, Executive Director and Dinna Tayao, General Manager for Digital inclusion and Social Development from Infoxchange Australia and Barry Phillips, Community Engagement Officer from Whitehorse Community Health Service.

D’Ambrosio officially launched the project highlighting the opportunities the project gives residents through access to information and technology and creating positive outcomes for the Wattle Hill community. She spoke about digital inclusion and its importance to community development.

Wired Community @ Wattle Hill is the third significant grassroots project and follows the ‘wiring up’ of the Collingwood and Fitzroy public housing estates in inner Melbourne.

Chairperson of the Wattle Hill Community Association, Liz O’Neill says residents were very excited to have access to the network set up by the Infoxchange technical support team using wireless mesh technology. Residents will have access to digital technologies and community intranet and will have a chance to contribute to, as well as explore their community at their own pace and distance via a range of digital mediums.

In the community's own words, “We are a small community comprising 235 Public Housing tenants from 126 families and another 80 or so non-public housing families. Our public housing tenants came from 35 different countries although Australian-born tenants made up 52 percent of these tenants. The age range is huge, from newborns to over 80’s. Wattle Hill community experiences a broad range of multiple and complex issues that are either directly or indirectly linked with health. Four years ago there was little community spirit. Local residents were less friendly and supportive to one another and individuals therefore experienced isolation that further aggravated existing health problems. There were certainly no community activities while there was more crime and limited sense of security.” 




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