David Liddiard OAM (back, 2nd from left) and Andrea Harms (back, 3rd from left) with Elders from the Bourke Tribal Council.

The launch of a new project today by Bamara in Bourke, NSW will offer eligible First Nations participants increased access and opportunities to develop technical digital literacy skills and employment over the next three years.

The Bourke Digital Hub project is made possible through the Indigenous Skills and Employment Program (ISEP), funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).

Through ISEP, the Australian Government is working in partnership with communities to connect First Nations people to jobs, career advancement opportunities, new training, and job-ready activities. Bamara has engaged in extensive community consultation and co-design to establish the Bourke Digital Hub, a project for First Nations people with limited computer skills and experience.

The project’s goal is to enhance the digital literacy skills and employability of 60 participants over three years through face-to-face delivery of a tailored IT Foundation Skills Course with mentored support. Max Robinson, who grew up in Bourke, is the Digital Hub Coordinator / Mentor and has worked extensively throughout Bourke. He was born and raised in Bourke and brings extensive local knowledge and experience of working with First Nations communities.

Upon completing the course, each participant will receive a new laptop from corporate partner Ethan Indigenous. This will facilitate easier access to daily living tasks, including online study options, applying for employment opportunities, shopping, and online banking, thus helping to bridge the digital divide in the community.

This three-year co-designed project aligns with the community’s Growing Up Our Kids Safe, Smart, and Strong strategy, which is implemented in partnership with the Maranguka Hub and corporate partner Ethan Indigenous.

David Liddiard OAM, the Aboriginal owner of Bamara, states the project responds to local workforce needs by training First Nations participants to be work-ready with transferable computer literacy and IT skills.

“Digital literacy is among the key criteria employers seek when recruiting and employing.

“There are jobs available in Bourke, but a lack of access to digital devices and IT skills is a barrier for many,” David says.

The project’s concept is driven by a deep understanding of the community’s needs, particularly the youth’s needs in achieving local employment, and by having the right network of corporate partners capable of collaborating to create an impact through IT.

The project also involves designing and developing several entrepreneurship initiatives, which will be piloted throughout the project’s duration and then officially launched to provide sustainable employment and essential skill sets and services to the town and local employers. One of the pilot enterprises will involve the corporate sector’s supply of donated laptops, which will be data-wiped and certified, undergo a hygiene check, and be pre-loaded with software.

To put their new skills to practical use, participants will develop an online sales portal. The portal aims to bridge the digital divide by making computers inexpensively available to community members in Bourke and the region, especially Aboriginal students who currently lack equitable access to digital devices.

Another initiative will involve developing a local IT Professional Services team to provide in-person IT support for this community. Currently, phone support for IT troubleshooting is the only option available.

The Bourke Digital Hub is expected to facilitate organic, structured growth, potentially evolving into a sustainable local enterprise.

Further Information

The IT Foundation Skills Course commences June 11, 2024, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for ten weeks. It will be held at Bourke TAFE and conducted by Bamara staff.

Individuals who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and are between 15 and 34 years old are eligible for this course.

We encourage you to register and complete the registration form, which is available at:
Reception desk, Maranguka Hub
41B Mitchell Street, Bourke

For more details or to speak with someone about the course, contact Andrea Harms:
M: 0434 586 747 | E: aharms@bamara.com.au