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Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI)

Young Australian Rural Network (YARN)

Background

The Young Australian Rural Network - Online (YARN) is an initiative of the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). YARN is an interactive online community, ‘a vehicle’ for young people working in rural industries to communicate directly with DAFF and with each other and to collaborate, share ideas and strengthen networks.

The initial website was developed and launched during August 2002 following an initial enquiry in July and a total development period of less than 30 days. The website experienced significant growth during the first twelve months under the management of a full time project officer who worked closely with CeRDI to refine the service and explore new features and projects.

Since its initial inception, the YARN website has spawned a number of new services such as

  • GATEway – A database of opportunities for young people in rural industries (Grants, Awards, Training and Education)
  • A website wizard for not-for-profit organisations
  • Online surveys
  • A secured collaborative area for designated workgroups
  • National Young Farmers Forum (Workshop website and online registration)

All of which have been supported by the CeRDI web platform.

The website has recently undergone its first major redevelopment to modernise its look and feel as well as cater for a change in focus for the website. YARN now has two dedicated content managers who are young rural people and are working independently based on grants from DAFF.

Services Delivered

  • Complete website management including news, events, navigation and resources facilitated by the web-based Content Builder.
  • General website services
    • Detailed usage statistic
    • Website search
    • Online forms for feedback and enquiries
    • Dynamic navigation and sitemaps
  • Interactive discussion forums for general public and within secured member area. These have been highly utilised throughout the websites existence.
  • Searchable database of opportunities with web-based administration interface.
  • Public and member services for the National Council of Young Farmers.
  • Customised database application for developing and managing online applications for industry partnership programs.
  • Evaluation services to assist DAFF in ensuring that YARN content and services continue to meet the needs of Australia’s rural youth.
  • Customised ongoing training services to both DAFF staff and YARN content managers.

Methodology

The choice of CeRDI as the provider for the YARN website was an excellent endorsement for the responsiveness of the Centre and the ability to meet tight deadlines which large organisations are not always able to facilitate through their own IT departments.

The ability to understand client requirements is paramount to a successful project. CeRDI places a great deal of emphasis on stakeholder consultation. Relevant Department representatives and members of the National Council of Young Farmers were invited to provide input into the project. CeRDI liaised with all stakeholders to, confirm requirements and aspirations for the website, achieve sign off on proposed design and functionality, and ensure the appropriateness of the final implementation. A second round of consultation was used to collect Department and stakeholder input into formulation of evaluation objectives, priorities and criteria for YARN.

After extensive consultation CeRDI was able to publish the new design and additional content to a development site. Key stakeholders were given access to this site for feedback. A thorough testing and quality assurance phase was used throughout the project. One key area of focus was to ensure the YARN services were fully aligned with guidelines for equality of access and standards compliance. CeRDI worked closely with DAFF staff to ensure the website was easy to use and effective for users in low connectivity areas.

Comprehensive documentation and user guides were provided to complement the face to face training provided. DAFF nominated several individuals to receive training in maintenance of online services provided.  These individuals now fully manage the site with minimal support. CeRDI host the YARN website providing ongoing technical support services primarily through the online help desk and telephone support. Support staff are generally the same as those that have worked with DAFF throughout the whole project.  This ensuring a smooth transition from development to support.

Outcomes and Benefits

CeRDI takes an active interest in success of all projects.  We following the process from start to finish and are keen to ensure that all products are used to the best of their ability and function. When we identify areas of success and innovation we capture information to ensure that this knowledge can be passed on to others and built upon in future initiatives which seek to deliver services which are used and useful.

The CeRDI content management suite has provided an excellent platform for the Young Australian Rural Network. The website is managed by stakeholders in three different Australian states highlighting the advantages of the distributed web-based toolset provided by CeRDI.

The YARN continues to evolve with new technologies and changes in community directions. The flexibility of the CMS allows DAFF to manage these changes internally with limited involvement from CeRDI.

Customer Feedback

"I would like to thank you for all the hard work you put in (especially in those first few months!) and for the ongoing support and ideas that you have consistently provided. I think that it is that sort of service that really makes CeRDI a cut above the rest, and I will have no hesitation recommending your services to other contacts, or possibly approaching you guys in the future about other projects!"

Emily Downie, DAFF