Laptops repurposed to benefit underprivileged students

By Myles Peterson

Underprivileged Shepparton students are benefiting from a new scheme that re-purposes used business IT equipment, allowing them to access the internet, school intranets and use office and design software tools.

The scheme was the brainchild of Graincorp’s Kylie Wright, who saw little point in throwing away laptops once out of warranty.

‘‘We just sort of noticed we had a number of devices that were ending up in landfill,’’ she said.

‘‘They’re still good machines, they still work well, they’re just not good enough for doing what we want to do.’’

Ms Wright contacted the Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project, which in turn contacted the Local Learning and Employment Network.

The only hurdle in re-purposing the machines was finding an operating system.

For commercial confidence and privacy reasons, the laptops needed to be completely wiped, but having already dealt with the issue, LLEN’s chief executive Wendy Shorthouse had the solution.

IT firm Compusult came to the rescue, cleaning and installing new software, using education licences supplied by Microsoft.

‘‘If the students are registered at a school, they’re entitled to Microsoft licensing use. They’re also able to log onto their own school’s capability,’’ Ms Shorthouse said.

Lighthouse is keen to increase the program and is calling on any government or business to consider donating used equipment. Individuals can also be involved.

Lighthouse volunteers co-ordinator Fiona Smolenaars said anyone could help out.

‘‘It’s not only been Graincorp, there’s actually been a couple of individuals donating when they upgrade,’’ she said.

‘‘The benefit for the kids is just fantastic. They can do homework at home. They can study.

‘‘Give us a call at Lighthouse. We’re happy to have a conversation about how we can partner.’’

Lighthouse can be phoned on 58219962 or visit