The Reconnect Project has a straightforward mission: to give pre-owned mobile devices a new life by providing them to people in need. There are an estimated 23 million mobile phones sitting unused in drawers and garages all over Australia, plus tablets and laptops that have broken or been put aside in favour of a newer model. With a simple repair, secure erasure of data and an overall clean, these devices are ready for (re)connecting people to family, friends and essential services, and help close the digital divide in Australia. A clean, untracked mobile phone is essential for a woman fleeing family violence. A person in transitional housing needs a way to be contacted by support services. For a refugee in detention, a mobile phone provides connection to the world. A young person without access to a computer can use a tablet or a laptop for completing studies or applying for work.
Australia has a significant divide in digital inclusion, the measure at which a person can access, afford and have the digital ability to connect and use online technologies effectively. Higher income households have almost double the digital inclusion rate of lower income households. People with low levels of education and employment are significantly less digitally included, as are Indigenous Australians and people in rural communities. Whilst national access to the internet has increased (with the NBN), affordability reduces access as lower income households and disadvantaged Australians are unable to purchase the equipment required for digital inclusion. Meanwhile, Australia's e-waste is growing 3 times faster than other waste streams, due to consumer demand for 'new' products and the rapid updating of technology.
Established as a social enterprise, The Reconnect Project aims to close the digital divide and provide a solution to the e-waste of mobile devices. Individuals, groups and businesses benefit with knowing that their preloved devices will be securely erased, repaired, and go to a good home, alleviating them of the concern about how to dispose of unwanted technology. Recipients of the refurbished devices benefit as they are provided with access to technology that they otherwise could not obtain, giving them the means to connect with people - friends, family, essential services. The Reconnect Project works with support agencies including women’s shelters, refugee services, and youth outreach programs, who advise on the best resources suited to their clients. We then source and provide the right technology to them, saving them time and financial outlay which can instead be directed into their essential support programs and services.
|Annette Mayne is the Founder of The Reconnect Project and has a passion for stopping usable items from going to landfill. With a degree in Communications, Annette has worked with businesses, Councils and charities since 2002, designing and implementing recycling and reuse projects. She has developed interactive recycling displays with the London Science Museum, sits on the Board of a Sydney-based food rescue group and created The Bower’s ‘House to Home’ furniture program which won the NSW Premier’s Award for Environment in 2016. Seeing the rise in e-waste and being frustrated with the throwaway mindset, she has turned her attention to mobile devices and advocates for the consumer’s Right to Repair.|
|Gokhan Tufan is the technical whizz at The Reconnect Project. Determined to bring broken electronic items back to life, he has spent the last 20 years exploring the inner workings of computers, stereos, kitchen appliances and power tools. His curiosity around mobile devices led him to study micro-soldering techniques, a specialised skill requiring hands as steady as a surgeon while working under a microscope, which enables him to rework logic boards on broken phones and tablets. Gokhan can bring just about any electronic item back to life.|