A new framework for the delivery of communications services to Indigenous communities has been set out at a meeting of the Online and Communications Council (OCC) in Alice Springs.
The OCC which includes representatives from Australian, State, Territory and Local Governments, is the peak ministerial forum for the strategic approach to national information and communications issues.
The framework aims to provide better communication services to help narrow the digital divide for Indigenous communities.
“The OCC has developed a strategic framework for collaboration by all levels of government to improve communications service availability, affordability and use,” the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, said.
“Indigenous communities, particularly those located in remote and very remote parts of Australia, have much to gain from better communications, including improved access to health, education, safety and business services.”
In March this year, the Government announced responded to the Regional Telecommunications Review, including an additional $3.7 million contribution to a $30 million refocused Indigenous Communications Program to improve essential communications services, basic public internet access facilities and computer training for remote Indigenous communities in partnership with states and territories.
Some $46 million is also earmarked for government-partnered projects such as remote medical consultation and teleconferencing in schools, while a further $11.4 million will subsidise satellite telecommunications deployments including increasing handset subsidies from 60 to 85 per cent.
South Australia is the first state to receive funding under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Public Internet Access. The OCC has also agreed to collaboratively develop the systems to track the growth of Australia’s digital economy and help maximise the potential of the National Broadband Network.
“Jurisdictions represented at the meeting strongly endorsed the concept and implementation of the National Broadband Network to benefit all Australians,” Conroy said.
OCC Members will also be part of the Realising Our Broadband Future forum in Sydney on December 10-11.