The Hope Vale Council officially opened the doors of the combined Indigenous Knowledge and Technology Centre in their remote aboriginal community in Cape York this week. By doing so, they not only launched a state-of-the-art learning and meeting space that will benefit all community members, but also successfully completed an innovative private/public partnership.
The newly refurbished facility, housed in the Jack Bambie building, is set to become an integral community hub and an opportunity to promote a culture of life-long learning in the township. It houses a fully resourced library, public access computers with broadband Internet connectivity, a supervised homework club for students, a space for the local women and men to meet in their community groups and a safe place for kids to play and learn.
What is unique about the Centre in Hope Vale, apart from the abundance of computer facilities, is how many local people, businesses, not-for-profit organizations and government departments have banded together to bring this project to fruition.
The Centre was the brain-child of Sydney philanthropist, Bob Magid from the DOT.COM.MOB. He set out to promote Internet based experiences for Indigenous children after witnessing the success of a similar project involving Ethiopian refugees in Israel.
“The Internet can be such a powerful tool for children to learn through having fun” said Bob Magid. “They can learn to read and write while looking up things that really interest them. The computers and Internet will give them opportunities that they simply didn’t have before”.
SJB Architects developed layout plans and many Hope Vale residents helped refurbish the building. The Queensland State Library, through their Indigenous Knowledge Centre Network, will be providing resources such as books, DVDs and journals to the Centre as well as mentoring and training for the centre manager. The Queensland Department of Communities has contributed funding recognizing that the Centre will provide a safe and stimulating learning environment for young children from the community.
The Sydney based not-for-profit, Work Ventures has provided refurbished computers and has conducted training programs to teach young people at Hope Vale how to build computers so they can locally repair units quickly and easily. Lastly, Frost Design is developing a website for the Centre that will act as a community notice board and a cultural heritage resource.
While the Hope Vale Council is delighted with the Centre they do have one concern. Unlike other councils, they do not have a rate base to provide the recurrent funding necessary to provide a community learning centre and they are looking for ongoing support of this project so that it is sustainable.
The Council believes by promoting a culture of life-long learning throughout all the community the overall education standards will be raised. Therefore, the Centre will also conduct programs for parents and pre-schoolers as well as events involving Traditional Owners through the State Library’s “Keeping Culture Strong’ project.
Photos by Sarah Scragg