DCITA injects funding to boost ICT in non profit sector

The Department of Communication, IT and the Arts (DCITA) has put up $70,000 with the aim of kickstarting a national coalition to boost the ICT capacity of non-profit organizations.

Community Information Strategies Australia Incorporated (CISA) won the publicly advertised tender to lead the project that includes Monash University's Centre for Community Networking Research, WorkVentures Australia, the Nonprofit Roundtable, Albany Consulting and Energetica.

Reference group members include IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Non-Profit Australia, Our Community and the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).

Doug Jacquier, chief executive officer of CISA, said the aim is to devise a sustainable model for ICT delivery that will improve operational efficiency, deliver services and support and help build networks in the not-for-profit sector.

"Non-profit organizations represent around 5 percent of Australia's GDP and deliver many services on behalf of governments," he said.

"We are looking to encourage government and business investment in not-for-profit ICT capacity, which is common practice in other countries. This initiative is a hopeful sign that the commonwealth government and the corporate ICT sector have been listening to us and are prepared to look at options for helping us to help ourselves."

A DCITA spokesperson said the funding is in response to research that shows there are a range of barriers to full adoption and effective use of ICT within the sector, including access to ICT infrastructure, hardware and appropriate software, access to reliable technical advice and support, technological literacy, cost and a lack of overall strategic direction.

"This has resulted in the uneven adoption of ICT across the sector which has impacted on the full potential ICT has to offer," she said.

After a series of national consultations, Jacquier hopes to set up a similar coalition to UK ICT Hub (http://www.ictconsortium.org.uk/).

The government has not committed to any ongoing funding, but Jacquier is hoping to net around $8 million over the next two years, which will be injected back into the ICT industry.

"We'll be seeking funds from some of the corporate players and from state governments to assist wherever possible in making it a broader process and to broaden our research base. Doing an Australia-wide consultation is an expensive and time-consuming process," he said.

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