By Amanda Murthy
Centacare Employment and Training has been awarded the 2018 Stronger Communities Grant on 30 January.
The grant was awarded by Federal Member for Burt Matt Keogh MP, together with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.
The grant will contribute to the costs of a $30,000 project, which will enable the purchase of new laptops for students from April 2019 and reduce barriers to employment. This will subsequently give the students increased access to computers, internet, and allow them to receive relevant digital skills training.
Upon official presentation of the grant, Mr Keogh said the $13,898 donation towards Centacare will be beneficial for their facilities in Armadale, and Gosnells.
“Centacare will have the capacity to offer programs to more individuals from the wider community of Burt, therefore improving community participation, education and most importantly their employment prospects,” he said.
“We have a diverse community with a high rate of unemployment – By providing the funds they will now have the opportunity to be in a better position to look after their families and become more vibrant contributors to society.
“Centacare are definitely excellent and worthy recipients of this grant,” he added.
Centacare Chief Executive Officer Lee-Anne Phillips said many of their students have low digital literacy because they are highly disadvantaged and do not have access to the technology required to develop their skills.
“Computer skills are essential for most workplaces, and this is often a barrier to employment for our students,” Ms Phillips cited.
“Through improved access to computers, Centacare students will be better prepared to achieve their employment goals, and build a more sustainable economic future for themselves.”
Ms Phillips added that the centre’s popular Computer Skills for Work course that piloted last year will be expanded to Gosnells come April this year. The 10-week basic digital literacy course allows students to develop computer skills while gaining the confidence with new technology.
“Students will learn how to use programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and Power Point, and they can use those skills to develop a professional resume,” she said.
“They will also learn how to navigate websites such as myGov and SEEK.”
Centacare Chair of Board Gwen Wood took the stand to thank the Perth Catholic Archdiocese, and other affiliated organisations for continuing to provide students with “increased access to computers, internet and digital skills training, which is so desperately needed in today’s modern world.”
“Here at Centacare we welcome people of all ages from a wide range of cultural backgrounds to join our diverse student population, including youth and mature-age students, migrants and refugees, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” she explained.
“Many of our students come to us seeking to learn the essential literacy, numeracy, language and technology skills they need to succeed and prosper in Australian life.
Through this funding, we hope to reduce unemployment in the Gosnells area and lessen the impact of other associated social and economic issues, helping to create a stronger and more vibrant community,” she added.
Centacare Teacher Rachel Yesuratnam said winning the grant meant that students will not have to share computers, and will be able to work more comfortably.
“At the moment we only have 15 computers at our Gosnells site, and sometimes the students have to share when we have a bigger number of students in a class – But now with the availability of this generous funding, our classes will always have one computer per student, and potentially upgraded facilities, which will increase their productivity,” she said.
Student Glen Cowley who completed the Computer Skills for Work course back in December 2018 said he learned a lot from the program.
“I really enjoyed it – It has given me more confidence using a computer and I can do many thing I could not do before, like downloading and using apps, using Google Drive and Microsoft programs,” Mr Cowley stated.
Centacare Employment and Training is a non-for profit registered training organisation that has been delivering flexible training, education and employment programs to disadvantaged people in the Perth community for over 40 years.
For more information, go to www.centacare.com.au