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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
    The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

    Digital champions dig deep to help cyclone-hit regions

    Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
    The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

    Saturday, May 06, 2017

    Digital champions dig deep to help cyclone-hit regions

    Advance Queensland Community Digital Champions are helping local communities get back on their feet following the devastating impacts of Cyclone Debbie.

    Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch praised the champions for helping lead disaster recovery efforts in their local communities, as well as advocating the use and importance of digital technologies during a natural disaster.

    “Digital technology is playing a vital role in managing natural disasters, helping Queenslanders who are looking for resources to keep informed, locate loved ones, notify authorities and express support. We have seen this since the 2011 Brisbane floods where social media really formed part of the crisis response effort,” Ms Enoch said.

    “This form of media is changing the way we prepare and respond to natural disasters. Queenslanders are sharing location updates, and receiving vital communications from news organisations, emergency services and community recovery organisations in times of need.”

    The Palaszczuk Government’s whole-of-government $405 million Advance Queensland initiative is focused on harnessing innovation to unlock business potential, grow our regions, foster new industries, and give future generations the necessary skills and knowledge for the jobs of tomorrow.

    Inaugural digital champion Juliette Wright from Brisbane is the founder and CEO of GIVIT – an online donation portal where established charities, foundations and non-government organisations request specific items for individuals and families in need.

    Mrs Wright is helping communities get back on their feet after Cyclone Debbie by enabling Queenslanders to see exactly what items are required to help vulnerable members of their local community whose house and belongings were destroyed.

    “A woman in the Whitsundays lost the roof of her home, leaving all her belongings exposed. Many of her household items were damaged and she was left without household linen, including sheets, bath towels and pillows. The request came in, and we were able to match this woman with a large donation of brand new bedding and towels,” she said.

    “I’ve travelled to Logan and Beenleigh areas, Mackay, Proserpine and Airlie Beach to see the devastation firsthand and I’ve met with local councils, community groups and charities to find out what people need and how GIVIT can assist.

    “I also joined the Premier through the Bowen region, where IGA donated $100,000 in vouchers to be distributed by GIVIT to those affected by Cyclone Debbie and the subsequent flooding in Queensland.

    “Somewhere in Queensland, there is a spare bed which could help a mother and her daughter who lost their items after flooding destroyed everything, or a bike that will allow children to ride to and from school, or a laptop to help a disabled woman stay in touch with family and friends who live far away – and that’s what GIVIT is all about, connecting those who have with those who need.”

    In her role as digital champion and Chamber of Commerce committee member, Megan Taylor from the Whitsundays has been helping small businesses get back to business through digital communications, and directing them to government support and grants.

    “We have advised individuals and businesses via e-newsletter, social media and events like the small business forum about the government assistance available, and put them in contact with representatives from Telstra, local police, banks, financial advisors, workplace health and safety, and local disaster recovery groups,” Ms Taylor said.

    “We’ve also encouraged as many local businesses as possible to complete a survey about the cyclone’s impact on their business so they can receive funding in the form of loans and grants.

    “I helped get this information out through my network and we were able to get 700 responses in five days, which is remarkable considering everyone in the Whitsundays had no network for around two weeks.”

    Advance Queensland Digital Champions are passionate digital advocates, looking to give back to their community by helping others become digitally-savvy in areas of disadvantaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with disabilities, senior citizens and Queenslanders in remote and regional areas.

    Ms Enoch said the Advance Queensland Community Digital Champions program will see another 19 champions appointed to help more Queenslanders improve their digital literacy skills and prepare for the jobs of the future.

    “We want Queenslanders to be among the most connected and digitally savvy in the world and the digital champions program plays an important role in achieving this,” Ms Enoch said.

    To find out more about the latest Advance Queensland Digital Champions or to nominate go to qld.gov.au/digitalchampions

    ENDS

    MEDIA 0412 393 909