THE REGIONAL, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) has issued a statement welcoming the recommendations of the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review.
Made up of a cross section of groups including the Country Women’s Association, National Rural Health Alliance, Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia, state farming organisations, the Isolated Children's Program Association and various peak bodies, the coalition threw their support behind the findings of the three yearly independent review.
NSW Farmers, president, James Jackson, said the ten recommendations put forward in the report reflect the Panel’s genuine commitment and action to respond to the current inequalities faced by many in regional, rural and remote Australia.
“Recommendations for increased capacity through investment in telecommunications infrastructure, ensuring appropriate consumer protections and promoting digital inclusion through literacy were welcomed,” he said.
“The RRRCC now calls on the Government to support and implement all 10 recommendations to safeguard and deliver growth and prosperity to all communities and industries in regional, rural and remote Australia.”
In a statement, the RRRCC said it unequivocally supports the recommendations madew in the report, particularly those aiming to improve digital literacy, empower regional, rural and remote Australians to better use digital technologies and maximise the economic and social benefits.
AgForce Queensland Farmers, general president, Georgie Somerset said farmers need targeted advice to get the full productivity benefits of connectivity.
“Online hubs, regional on-ground technical advisers and industry specific advice will go a long way to make that a reality,” she said.
"This will increase agricultural production and assist Australia to compete and connect with global markets.”
Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR) co-founder, Kristy Sparrow said digital literacy was increasingly challenging and complex due to an ever-changing telecommunications environment.
“BIRRR has voluntarily been filling this void of skills and digital literacy for the last four years,” she said.
“There is an urgent need by Government to address the lack of digital skills in regional, rural and remote areas so that all Australians can engage and participate in a digital society.
“After numerous submissions, reviews and reports, BIRRR is eager to see the Government commit to a change in policy and funding so that equity of service and consumer safeguards are applied to all bush telecommunication services.”
The statement from the RRRCC said the recommendation calling for a regional connectivity package to improve broadband and mobile services in regional areas was vitally important.
However, ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin, said this needs to be supported by adequate funding.
“Regional Australians deserve more than promises; while it’s fantastic that this need has been identified, it is important that the Government backs it up with timely and reasonable action,” she said.
Isolated Children’s Program Australia (ICPA) President, Wendy Hicks, said the recommendations addressed many of the issues most commonly raised by their members.
“We are hopeful that if accepted and initiated, these recommendations will make a significant difference to communication abilities for families living in rural and remote areas and in particular, rural students, their learning experience and outcomes.”
Country Women’s Association of Australia, National President, Tanya Cameron said the CWA strongly supported recommendations to undertake an audit focusing on repair times for landline services.
“Many of our members have been adversely impacted by a deteriorating landline service that is often not fixed within the specified Customer Service Guarantee timeframe,” she said.
“Shining a light on this issue and measuring the impacts of disruption through an audit will finally bring to the fore what many of our members have to put up with.”
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