Electronic village for Yarra Ranges

Victoria's Shire of Yarra Ranges has announced an ambitious program to knit its scattered community together through Y.net - an Internet based computer network. Y.net, the Yarra Ranges Community Access Network, will provide wide external access to the Shire's many products, services and tourist attractions. It will also provide access to the World Wide Web through public terminals.

Communications within the Shire will also be enhanced by providing direct connections between community groups, cultural organisations, services and businesses through Website links and email.

Further down the track, Y.net will provide a platform for e-commerce throughout the Shire. Shire Chief Executive Officer, Eric Howard, said Y.net, planned to be operational by December, is the culmination of a vision to develop a virtual community for Yarra Ranges that will overcome barriers of geography and social disadvantage.

"We are a large Shire comprising 137,000 people, spread over nine Wards and 2,500 square kilometres," he said. "Y.net will be a Website based network that will provide one stop external access with direct links from the Y.net home page to Council, libraries, community and cultural groups, primary producers and manufacturers, tourist destinations and home based businesses.

"It will allow these groups to promote their products and services in local, national and international markets.

"Of equal significance will be community access to the network through public terminals. These installations will be supported by comprehensive training programs which will usher community members with no computer skills or equipment directly into the information age."

Y.net has been made possible through a $100,000 grant, as part of the Victorian Government's Skills.net program. It was launched by Alan Stockdale, Minister for Information Technology and Multimedia.

Mayor David Hodgett said the grant will allow Y.net to improve the life of residents as well as attract new residents, visitors and businesses to the Shire through its powerful reach and promotional power.

For further information contact Ann Norton, Acting Manager, Economic Development Unit, telephone 1300 368 333.