Broadband support for disadvantaged kids needed

Australia may be a developed nation but the digital divide is still prevalent in certain communities. With this in mind, the IT Fund for Kids hopes to narrow the gap by introducing sick children to the Internet.

Australia may be a developed nation but the digital divide is still prevalent in certain communities. With this in mind, the IT Fund for Kids hopes to narrow the gap by introducing sick children to the Internet.

Starlight Children's Foundation Australia, an IT Fund for Kids beneficiary, is planning to trial the Starlight Online Community -- a program to connect ill children both hospitalised and at home -- through an online portal supporting text-based chat, forums, blogs, news, polls and buddy lists.

With broadband access costs the main barrier to the program, Starlight CEO Jill Weekes hopes a telecommunications partner will sign-up.

The month-long pilot involving 500 children will run from May. Starbright World is the successful American version of the program.

The IT Fund for Kids, a charity specifically supported by Australia's IT industry, kicked off its Putting IT Back campaign in Sydney this morning.

The Fund's goal this year is to raise AU$500,000 nationally for seriously ill and autistic children, said Philip Cronin, Intel Australia and New Zealand managing director.

"The work the Fund does for children is magnificent and I saw a way to marry that to the IT industry participation.

"I believe the Fund uniquely provides a sense of ownership for all members of the IT industry and is something we can be very proud of," Cronin, an IT Fund for Kids ambassador, said in a statement.

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