The Catholic Church is following the lead of the ACTU in a new deal to provide cheap PCs and Internet access for Catholics, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report yesterday.
The package gives Catholics an IBM computer they will eventually own, software and Net access, all for just $9.95 per week.
In what are being called "affinity partnerships", the ACTU and the Australian Retirees Fund have also brokered cheap PC and Internet deals for their members.
The company behind it all is Virtual Communities, which is a business with a profit focus.
The general manger of Virtual Communities told the SMH the services are provided to the church at cost price, but since the company has a focus on e-commerce, the more computers in homes, the bigger its potential market.
Financial backers include Steve Vizard, Primus Telecom, Australian Retirees Fund, AXA and the founder of Virtual Communities, 31-year-old advertising executive Chris Clarke.
Those who sign up to the Catholic Church deal will get daily prayers and religious news, and for Catholic teachers and students there will be chat rooms and health information, within a Catholic context.
Not surprisingly, the Catholic package has filtering software. The children's software restricts it to "safe sites", and the adult software also has filtering, but can be overridden with a password.
The deal corners a potential five million Australians with a Catholic background, and non-Catholics are also eligible to join.