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Seniors helping seniors use computers and the internet

 

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Beginnings of SeniorNet Ipswich

In January 1995 the Ipswich City Council and the Department of Social Security declared their readiness to sponsor the formation of a SeniorNet organisation which could serve as a pilot model throughout Australia.  Global Info-Links (the first municipal Internet Service Provider in Australia) and Ipswich City Council provided technical, training and administrative assistance, and Department of Social Security loaned 12 computers. 

Dr. Hilda des Arts was appointed Coordinator of the project and a core group of founding members formed the Steering Committee, which evolved into the SeniorNet Management Committee.

From the beginning, the project was active in two Ipswich regional retirement villages, with Activity Officers from each village being included in the core group training.

This stimulated interest in computer operating skills for older people and provided equipment and trained support for residents of the villages.

SeniorNet Ipswich was incorporated in August 1996. In February 1997, the management committee, with help from Ipswich City Council and Global Info-Links, started work on establishing a SeniorNet Training Centre on the first floor of the W. G. Hayden Humanities Centre, South Street, Ipswich.  

Funding and Equipment  

With the help of the Queensland Government Department of Families and Youth and Community Care, two new Pentium computers using Windows 95 operating systems were purchased in July of 1997. Training courses commenced in August of that year.

Early in 1998, SeniorNet purchased another three new Pentium computers.  Support from the Ipswich City Council, and Global Info-Links team continued.  

The National SeniorNet Project  

SeniorNet was developed in Ipswich as a blueprint for future groups.

Dr Hilda des Arts promoted the project around Australia. SeniorNet featured in extensive media coverage - print, radio and television, throughout Australia and twice with BBC London.

Hilda devoted a great deal of time and energy to the task of presenting the project at seminars and conventions in Cairns, Rockhampton, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong and Mornington Peninsula, Hobart and Perth.     

Dr Hilda des Arts  

To say Dr des Arts was determined is an understatement. She was committed to anything she turned her hand to and developing a National Group for seniors to learn to access the Internet was a passion. Her personality was such that people sat up and listened when she spoke.      State and Federal politicians certainly heard what she had to say but her efforts were not as successful as she would have liked.  With much fuss and many upsets, SeniorNet did finally become an organisation in Ipswich.

Photo of Hilda

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