Social enterprise helps overcome ‘digital divide’
Logan-based social enterprise, Substation33, helped families in need to continue to study, work and access services online during the COVID-19 pandemic with low-cost computer packages and resources.
Substation33 is a supporter of the Buy Queensland approach, through their commitment to driving positive environmental outcomes, providing local employment opportunities and supporting the community.
Substation33 processes electronic waste and assists volunteers and employees to gain skills to move into sustainable employment.
During COVID-19 the team at Substation33 noticed there was a ‘digital divide’ in the local community.
Founder Tony Sharp says, “Kids needed to be able to do their studies online and we found that some people didn't have a device to do that in their family home.”
Since the start of April 2020, Substation33 has provided 1,000 desktop computer packages including a computer, mouse, keyboard at a cost of $100.
To help their customers use their new computers, the team developed a start-up software package and produced YouTube videos instructing customers how to use the computer.
“These resources help the first-time user and make their experience easier. We also found that younger members of the family were teaching their older generation family members how to use the computer and connect with others in the community,” says Tony.
The process wasn’t all smooth sailing for Substation33, as they lost a significant part of the workforce during the pandemic.
“A large part of our workforce is work for the dole, school volunteers and other volunteers but they were unable to work or help because of the COVID-19 restrictions,” says Tony.
As restrictions eased in Queensland, Substation33 needed to find more volunteers to meet the demand. They now employ 2.5 employees and have ensured COVID-safe workplaces for their staff and volunteers.
Through collaboration with local community organisations to meet the demand for their computer packages the Substation33 team has seen the goodwill that exists in their community.
“We rely on donations from the community for those who may not be able to afford to pay. We have community organisations and customers that see that some families are doing it tough and pay for their computer package,” says Tony.
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- Last updated:
- 29 September 2020