Frustrated Aussie set to bring PCs for Kids to NZ

An Australian charity chief, frustrated at a lack of state and federal support for his organisation, is set to relaunch his PCs for Kids programme in New Zealand.

An Australian charity chief, frustrated at a lack of state and federal support for his organisation, is set to relaunch his PCs for Kids programme in New Zealand.

Computer technician and former distributor Colin Bayes plans to visit Auckland over Christmas to meet with Rotary, the Lions and other service organisations, and hopefully government officials, about moving to Auckland.

Bayes says he is heartened by government support for computer recycling schemes in Britain and New Zealand, but has found it lacking in the Australian public sector, which prefers to auction redundant stock.

Even so, since founding the Victoria-based scheme early last year, he claims some success in giving away 550 PCs.

Bayes also founded the original US charity in 1996 when his son said there were no computers at his New York school. He bought 20 old PCs at an auction, renovated them and gave the school six. This lead to Personal Computers for Kids being formed, eventually running with the Kiwanis clubs across six states.

“Around four-fifths of donations are cannabilised. We strip them down and rebuild them from scratch to suit the child’s needs. Three-quarters are low-end Pentiums (Pentium 80/90s) and the balance are high-end 486s,” he says.

Bayes describes his charity as an educational assistance programme, giving children a hand-up not a handout. The Australian operation has 25 volunteers, based in Geelong, near Melbourne. Work-for-dole schemes, plus rental income from a property fund him, but he is also tiring of supplementing it with his own money, hence the plans to move to New Zealand.

For a Kiwi launch, Bayes says he needs storage space, help with marketing and a volunteer recruitment drive. He adds that in Australia many of his volunteers soon find permanent jobs.

New Zealand already has a similar “Computers in Homes” programme, launched early this year, backed by the Ministry of Education and the 2020 Trust. An initial pilot phase saw recycled computers given to 25 deprived families both in Auckland and Wellington.

The scheme, claims success to date transforming the lives of poorer people through IT, and will soon extend to two Eastern Bay of Plenty schools, with plans to operate nationally.

A Ministry of Education spokeswoman says the government would consider support for PCs for Kids.

2020 Trust director Claire Coman says she is keen to speak with Bayes about his scheme, adding they could work together. Bayes says he is also keen to discuss ideas with Coman.

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