Australia has an increasing digital divide - the gap between those who have access to technology and the internet, and those who do not. The impact of Covid-19 with lockdowns, work or school from home and social isolation exacerbated the digital divide and highlighted this issue. Meanwhile, e-waste is growing at 3 times the rate of other waste streams as the demand for new products and the marketing of new technology is unrelenting. There's an estimated 23 million mobile phones sitting unused in drawers, boxes and garages across Australia. But with a little repair, these devices - as well as tablets and laptops - can have their lifespan extended.
The Reconnect Project's mission is to provide devices to people in need while simultaneously tackling the e-waste problem and closing the digital divide. We seek donations of unwanted mobile phones, tablets and laptops, that we refurbish and bring back to life. Through our networks with Caseworkers at women's refuges, homelessness agencies and refugee support groups, The Reconnect Project gets these refurbished devices straight into the hands of someone who needs it.
For people in transient situations, who cannot receive mail, a mobile phone will provide access to email and Apps for services such as Centrelink. For refugees, a mobile phone will allow them to contact family and gives them a point of contact for essential services or when looking for work. For a women escaping DV, a clean mobile phone means a fresh start and the security of knowing their phone isn’t being tracked by others.
We only launched in late 2019, but with the arrival of Covid-19, demand for our services skyrocketed and requests from Caseworkers filled our inbox. To date, we have distributed over 300 mobile phones, tablets and laptops with 95% of these being within the Sydney region. We are working closely with Counterpoint Community Services, Parramatta Mission, YWCA and WAGEC to support vulnerable individuals in the inner city and Parramatta.
Funded by Sydney (December 2020)