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Cheryl Sing

Almost 90% of Australia’s four million computers will end up in landfill, often still in working order. A new charity, The Laptop Initiative will be launched this week (beginning 3 March) that pairs companies with redundant laptops with charities whose clients require a laptop to connect, flourish and learn.

According to Founder, Cheryl Sing, fewer than 1% of laptops are recycled Australia wide, “and many of these are routinely replaced by newer models  – despite the fact that they still are in good working order,” she said.

A recent report by KPMG found that 84% of Australian students do not have access to computers out of school “which means they behind in assignments and learning,” Ms Sing said.

“Imagine if we could simply redirect perfectly good laptops being discarded by corporate Australia to disadvantaged youth, as well as refugees to learn English or find a job, or women fleeing domestic violence to find support and a refuge.”

The Laptop Initiative has undergone an 18-month pilot period working with what Ms Sing calls Corporate Heroes and Charity Partners The Women’s Resilience Centre, the Jesuit Refugee Service Australia and The Fathering Project.

The Laptop Initiative seeks laptops that are no more than four years old, have webcam capability, are fully functional, have a new hard disc installed, and includes the laptop, charger, a Microsoft windows operating system and is fully sanitised.

Once a company has given The Laptop Initiative a pick-up date, the charities are contacted to determine whose needs are most urgent. “We then pick the laptops up, pop them into a bag and then deliver them straight to the charity to be given to recipients,” she said.

“The laptops aren’t stored, they are rapidly moved from the donors to those in need.”

The companies are then sent information about the charity that received the laptops (together with doughnuts for morning tea) so that there is a “real connection, knowing that these laptops which would normally have ended up in landfill are making a change in someone’s life,” Ms Sing said.

Mining software company, Micromine, has provided PCs for The LapTop Initiative. CEO, Andrew Birch said that “it is a great way for Micromine to contribute to the community and help close the Digital Divide, it is environmentally beneficial and it is extremely motivating for our teams to be involved in this great initiative.”

Simone Allan, Founder of The Women’s Resilience Centre said the PCs provided by The LapTop Initiative “empowers women in desperate need of their own PCs to apply for job opportunities and to attend our capability-building programs, allowing women to find support for a positive pathway forward.”


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