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Australian Government Boosts Funding for Web Projects

From australia.internet.com

As part of the build-up to an expected federal election, rural families, Australian indigenous communities and senior citizens should benefit from an Australian Government initiative to bolster Web use in regional areas.

The 'Networking the Nation' grants, totalling AUS$11.5 million, come from the Regional Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) and will aid 44 projects in various states across Australia. The RTIF was established last year with the one-third sale of the once Government-owned telecommunications company Telstra.

The latest round of projects to receive funding include AUS$2 million for an IT bridging scheme in rural Queensland. This regionally coordinated project aims Internet training and support to those who might not otherwise have access to the Net.

Also on the cards is a plan to invest more than AUS$1.5 million in providing free Internet access through 91 public and two mobile libraries in South Australia; the RTIF additionally intends to direct AUS$1 million to Internet service and support in regional Victoria.

Nearly AUS$2 million will further be devoted to developing cyber cafes in rural New South Wales that will eventually create a gateway Web site to help encourage the use of e-commerce and promote the shire that is using Net facilities.

Federal Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, said that the Government's rationale behind the funding initiative was to help "bridge the communications gap between urban and non-urban Australia."

While this round of schemes comes in the buildup to a federal election, the RTIF invested AUS$69 million in Australia's telecommunications infrastructure. Although the RTIF is focusing much of its efforts on developing community through regional Australia via the Internet, this latest round of projects will also fund non-Web related telecommunications projects designed to connect people in rural areas.