This morning I had the pleasure of attending the launch of eSmart Libraries, an $8 million, multi-year partnership between the Telstra Foundation and The Alannah and Madeline Foundation.

Launched by the Hon. Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister of Australia, Telstra Foundation Chairman, Geoff Booth and The Alannah and Madeline Foundation Chair, John Bertrand, eSmart Libraries will be rolled out to Australia’s 1,500 public libraries over the next six years.

eSmart is a world leading cyber-safety system. It is a ground breaking initiative of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation first developed back in 2008, with initial seed funding from the Telstra Foundation. It is now operating in 1400 schools across Australia.

eSmart Libraries will build on this wonderful foundation. It will be designed to equip libraries and library-users with the skills they need for smart, safe and responsible use of technology.

A key focus of Telstra’s sustainability function is digital inclusion, or what we call Everyone Connected.

Everyone Connected means ensuring all Australians enjoy the everyday benefits of being connected to modern communication technologies – irrespective of age, income, ability, location or disadvantage.

We know that online connectivity is dramatically changing our lives – the way we communicate, socialise, transact and organise our lives. But this fast-changing digital environment presents new challenges and real risks.

Our Everyone Connected community programs enhance digital inclusion by utilising our core capabilities, assets, expertise and national presence to support access, skills development and safety for those Australians and communities most in need.

Libraries are among the most popular and patronised community resources in Australia. Half the population is a member of a public library; last year there were over 110 million unique visits.

eSmart Libraries launch today in Sydney

Photo. eSmart Libraries launch today in Sydney

eSmart libraries will give Australian children and young people the opportunity to experience the benefits of technology and digital inclusion. It will help make the online library experience safer for everyone.

Connecting Australians is fundamental to Telstra, and underpins the work of the Telstra Foundation.

This year the Telstra Foundation celebrates 10 years supporting community organisations that share our vision of making a positive and lasting contribution to the lives of disadvantaged children and young people across Australia. Over this period the Telstra Foundation has invested over $40million to support 7000 community projects.

eSmart Libraries is  one of the most significant community cybersafety programs ever undertaken in Australia and the Telstra Foundation’s largest ever single community investment.