Access 1000 a success

Young Lee Ausage (pictured with his mum), grade 6 student from the Dandenong South Primary School was all smiles when he received a laptop from State Schools’ Relief (SSR).

SSR was one of Gandel Foundation’s early COVID grant recipients, aimed at ensuring digital equality for disadvantaged students through their ‘Access 1000’ program of assistance.

Funding from Gandel Foundation and other philanthropic support enabled SSR to provide 316 devices (laptops & chrome books), plus 132 internet dongles to students across Vic.

Devices were received by students from 89 schools across 41 Local Government Areas (LGAs), while internet dongles went to secondary students from 43 schools in 26 LGAs.

Sue Karzis, CEO of State Schools’ Relief, believes that by providing these students with the digital means to continue their education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty in Australia.

“COVID-19 brought to light the digital divide and the lack of access and equity to the digital tools required to engage with remote learning. This includes not only having a device, but also internet connectivity and access to a dedicated space in which to study.

Students from vulnerable backgrounds are already starting at a disadvantage, and they need assistance to stay engaged with their education, which I believe is a pathway to breaking the cycle of poverty,” she says.

CEO of Gandel Philanthropy, Vedran Drakulic OAM, believes it’s important to address barriers to full and continuous participation in education for all students.

“Access 1000 has been hugely successful to date, but still more can be done. We felt it was important to help with this campaign, especially during the period of ongoing lockdowns and remote learning. We also know that being able to stay connected to school communities has a profound positive impact on students mental health. We hope other philanthropists and donors will join these types of efforts so all students receive the means to engage in productive and uninterrupted learning,” says Vedran.