Launch Of Community NetSenior Citizens
Aotearoa, Rangimarie Room, Te Papa.
Representatives of the National Collective of Independent Women 's Refuges, the Maori Women's Welfare League, Te Kohanga Reo National Trust, Kupenga Maori, NZ Council of Social Services, Funding Information Service, YWCA, Disabled Persons Assembly, NZ Citizens Advice Bureau, 20/20 Communications Trusts, national and local community groups, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome.
It is my pleasure indeed to be with you today to launch CommunityNet Aotearoa, a partnership between the Department of Internal Affairs and a number of national community groups. As I speak simultaneous launches are happening in seven offices around the country - from Kaitaia to the West Coast - and we will be "talking" online with them shortly. In all representatives of about 200 community groups are taking part.
While I'm certainly no technology expert, I do know the importance of moving with the times and the value of taking advantage of all available tools to operate in a more effective and efficient way.
CommunityNet is a national attempt to help community groups benefit from Internet technology. The Internet is a dynamic and complex environment of literally thousands of websites and discussion forums with new material constantly being created. While there is a huge amount of information available it can be time consuming and confusing to find what you need. And often the practical information community groups need is not on Internet. CommunityNet Aotearoa is a way to sort and share information and to make sure relevant information is online.
People active in their communities also need to network with others involved in similar activities - to discuss common issues, share information and build supportive reciprocal relationships.
Some community groups in this country currently experience real difficulties in accessing adequate information to help them run their "business". It can be prohibitively expensive for them to come together physically in one place to share resources and discuss common issues. CommunityNet offers them a positive solution by providing a website built with their information needs in mind.
There are, of course, cost issues with regard to community groups first needing to have computers. But CommunityNet isn't choosy, working well on both new or second hand older machines and with programmes used by people with disabilities. Just to wear another hat for a moment, that of Chairperson of the Lottery Grants Board, I know grants for computers have been made available to community organisations through lottery committees.
And for less than the price of toll calls or fax services community groups can access CommunityNet through an Internet connection and immediately tap into the vast wealth of training and information resources available through the Department's Community Development Group and the entire world wide web.
Accessing for themselves information on matters like financial management, the correct way of setting up a legal structure or the ins and outs of project planning.
Community groups can also communicate with one another through online discussion forums. A Youth worker in Kaitaia say could discuss common youth issues and share ideas with a youth worker on the South Island's West Coast. In this way CommunityNet can work to encourage and support the strengthening of communities throughout the country.
I am reliably informed CommunityNet is user friendly, designed as it has been by and for community groups. I'm told I would only need to tap out www.community.net.nz to be in.
Without further ado I will now ... not cut the red ribbon, but press the send button ... to declare CommunityNet Aotearoa officially open.