By helping to “narrow the digital divide”, the centre had also boosted educational, employment and social opportunities for residents of the indigenous community, she said.
“It has made a huge impact to our community especially with the realisation that technology is the ‘now’ factor – not only globally and nationally, but now locally,” said Ms Costello.
She said the centre averaged about 50-60 people a day from a cross-section of the community, who used it not only to access to the internet and books, but also as a hub for learning, capacity building and strengthening cultural identity – from being a meeting space for elders to engaging youth who were unable to attend high school in Cooktown.
Dot.Com.Mob sponsor Robert Magid said its success hinged on “an approach that puts community ownership and building respectful relationships at the core of all activities”.
He said technology had the potential to greatly improve the quality of people’s lives, particularly in remote communities.
“Before Hope Vale, people had to move to a major town to get a job or do various things, but now with the internet, they can be in contact with people in other communities and major centres, and learn and contribute remotely,” he said.
Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council chief executive Lee Robertson dubbed the project “truly inspirational”. “Hopefully it will encourage government to embrace the idea of partnerships between communities and other organisations, promoting initiatives for the betterment of the community,” he said.
The State Library of Queensland has provided learning resources and furniture for the centre, as well as ongoing support through staff training and program delivery, while the State Government provided funding for the first year of operations.
* Companies or individuals interested in establishing similar centres in other communities should contact Gaye White at Dot Com Mob by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org