From the Executive Summary…
Over the years, governments have put in place a range of initiatives aimed at improving communications in remote Indigenous communities. However, high levels of digital inequality still exist in many communities around Australia. Indigenous Remote Media Association (IRCA) highlights this point, saying ‘most remote Indigenous people currently have limited access and usage of ICTs’, and further that, ‘limited access to IT facilities, training, relevant on‐line content and service delivery, and affordable broadband services will increase the digital divide’.
As the rest of Australia become increasingly connected to broadband through the rollout of the NBN, it is critical that government recognise the risk for remote Indigenous Australia if the divide does indeed increase, and continue to commit to addressing this issue. With rollout of the Indigenous Communications Program (ICP) to new locations due to finish mid this year, it is both timely, and important, that we reflect on the successes of the program, and discuss what improvements can be made for the future direction of remote Indigenous communications.
Building on the notions of sustainability, recurrent well‐directed funding, and effective and ongoing engagement with remote communities, there is an opportunity, through appropriate use ofthe NBN, to make significant and lasting improvements to remote Indigenous communications.
About this document
Rethinking the Indigenous Communications Program, prepared by the Broadband for the Bush Alliance (B4BA) working group, and with input from the B4BA social inclusion working group, aims to provide practical advice on the program’s future direction. Produced from an original discussion paper circulated among the B4BA working groups, this document outlines key areas where changes and improvements are needed to successfully address the digital literacy of Indigenous Australians in remote Australia and ensure they are better equipped to participate in Australia’s digital economy.
Firstly, the existing ICP and associated trials taking place in 2013 are briefly outlined. The document then looks at specific features of the internet access element of the ICP that could have been delivered in a more appropriate way, with practical, evidence based solutions suggested to improve identified problems. Complementing the ICP with other initiatives, primarily the improvement of mobile coverage in remote communities, is then discussed. Finally, application and content programs that are relevant and engaging for remote Indigenous Australia are explored and encouraged as part of a revised ICP.