The Northern Territory Government is to ramp up ICT capabilities in 20 remote indigenous communities in an effort to focus and coordinate the delivery of infrastructure, services and development in the region.
The upgrade, part of the A Working Future initiative announced in late May, will see eventually see 20 remote communities set up with mobile and broadband services, as well as improved ICT reliability.
The 20 communities will act as hubs in the region, encouraging development, creating jobs and bringing Indigenous Territorians into the Territory’s broader economic plan, according to the Department of the Chief Minister.
A spokesperson at the Department of the Chief Ministerconfirmed that the Northern Territory Government (NTG) was currently in discussions with telecommunications carriers to pursue options for all 20 townships to be equipped with broadband and mobile capability.
NTG agencies — in particular, schools, clinics and police stations — are currently upgrading broadband links to the 20 locations, as well as moving to a new STARS satellite network for sites without adequate terrestrial links, the spokesperson said.
The NT Department of Education and Training intended to commission 20 Mbs data services for the schools in all the communities except those on Groote Island, where optical fibre or equivalent services are not available, the spokesperson said.
“These connections will provide students and staff with the same level of bandwidth as students in Darwin and Alice Springs,” the spokesperson said. “Where the fibre optic network is not available, the STARS satellite network will provide equivalent broadband services.”
Computers and networks in remote schools would continue to receive visits twice a term from technical support teams.
“We anticipate computer and network reliability and performance in these schools to be equivalent to that available in urban areas,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that with completion of the Arnhem fibre link to Nhulunbuy last year, seven of the 20 townships now had high capacity broadband for government, business and community use.
Nine of the 20 communities were yet to have community broadband through ADSL and one is still to have mobile services.
In a statement made at the launch of A Working Future, indigenous policy minister Alison Anderson claimed the initiative, investing $160 million over the next five years, would create a shift in the delivery of services and infrastructure in remote communities.
“A Working Future means exactly that — a future for Indigenous Territorians living in remote communities,” she said. “It is about a decent lifestyle, jobs, education for our kids, better health and services that are equal with the rest of country Australia.”
The indigenous communities are: Maningrida, Gunbalanya, Gapuwiyak, Ramingining, Wadeye, Milingimbi, Yuendumu, Hermannsburg, Borroloola, Ngukurr, Yirrkala, Papunya, Galiwin’ku, Numbulwar, Lajamanu, Elliott, Nguiu, Angurugu/Umbakumba, Daguragu/Kalkarindji, Ali Curung.