House debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Questions without Notice


2:42 pm

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Communications. How is the Albanese Labor government working with charitable organisations to help families with school-age children connect to the internet?

2:43 pm

Photo of Michelle RowlandMichelle Rowland (Greenway, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Moreton for his question. He knows that, in order for school students to succeed in the classroom and, ultimately, in our increasingly digital society, they must have access to good, reliable internet. In 2023 connectivity is essential to maximising educational opportunities, from undertaking research for an assignment to participating in virtual learning. That's why the Albanese government is taking practical action to ensure that families with school-age children, regardless of their means or their postcode, are connected and that the cost-of-living pressures don't further worsen digital exclusion. That's where the School Student Broadband Initiative comes: a year of free NBN connectivity for up to 30,000 unconnected families with school-age children.

To reach families who may benefit from this initiative, charitable organisations such as YWCA Canberra have been key. The YWCA is one of the nominating charitable agencies supporting families to access this initiative. I was pleased today to visit the YWCA—along with my colleague the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, Doctor Leigh—and hear about the important work they're doing to support families in the ACT. Charitable organisations have a strong understanding of the needs of local families in balancing cost-of-living pressures, and they have longstanding relationships with families who could benefit from the School Student Broadband Initiative. The CEO of YWCA Canberra, Frances Crimmins, and her great staff told us of the tangible benefits that accessing free broadband is already delivering for families. She described it as a great initiative to address the cost-of-living challenges for many families and life-changing for one family in particular, a single mother and her eight children, who are all set to benefit from this free internet.

As all members would recognise, Australian charities are vital in building stronger, fairer communities that are better places to live. They provide critical support to vulnerable members of our society, and I thank all of the charities and community organisations who've come on board to support the School Student Broadband Initiative, including YWCA Canberra. I'm pleased to inform the House that today more than 3,000 families without broadband at home are being connected to free internet, and over 20,000 vouchers for free connections have now been issued by NBN to nominating agencies and eligible families. Through this initiative we're delivering real outcomes for Australian students, giving them the tools they need to succeed and prosper in the classroom and beyond.