Gates digs deep for Aborigines

Gates digs deep for Aborigines

Bill Gates, one of the world's richest men, has given more than a million dollars to expand computer and Internet services in NT indigenous communities.

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The Microsoft founder donated $1.25 million to the NT Library as recognition for the 'Our Story' database, which enables Aboriginal people to preserve and share their culture.

The award aims to help Aboriginal communities increase their technology and literacy skills while helping local people preserve and share their cultural heritage.

"It does this by training staff in communities to help archive digital recordings, photographs, film, stories and song in local languages, using library computers," said NT Minister for Local Government Elliot McAdam.

Mr McAdam said the NTL had used an innovative approach bringing computer and internet technology to remote communities.

"This award is one of the highest accolades for libraries across the world and the staff of Northern Territory Library should be very proud that their hard work has been recognised on a global scale," he said.

NTL director Jo McGill accepted the award in Durban, South Africa, during the 2007 International Federation of Library Association's General Conference.

"Being recognised for the work libraries are doing in remote communities is a fantastic accomplishment for us," Ms McGill said.

She said community libraries were helping to address the social and economic disadvantage faced by indigenous communities by connecting people to information.

Ms McGill said Aboriginal people had an oral tradition of sharing knowledge and culture.

"Very little of this knowledge is captured in books. The Northern Territory Library recognised the need to capture this local content and made it accessible to the indigenous communities.

"We have seen people who, for the first time, are able to find photographs of family members and other information related to their family histories.

"This is extremely important, particularly for those who were forcibly removed from their families and communities and suffered a loss of cultural connection."