Helping Northern Territory communities to stay connected

Joint with:

The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP

Minister for Social Services

Member for Kingston

The Hon Michelle Rowland MP

Minister for Communications

Member for Greenway

Marion Scrymgour MP

Member for Lingiari

The Albanese Labor Government will help multiple regional and remote communities in the Northern Territory to achieve greater digital connection with significant upgrades to phone and internet connectivity as part of the Government’s Digital Connectivity Project.

The project will provide Wi-Fi and mobile phone connectivity upgrades, along with increased digital literacy support for 21 communities across the Northern Territory.

Part of this funding contributes to the Government’s Central Australia Plan and delivers on a dedicated $7.5 million over 2022-23 to 2023-24 for mobile and internet services and digital literacy support.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth will today visit Alice Springs, including one of the communities set to benefit from the upgrades with Member for Lingiari Marion Scrymgour.

Minister Rishworth said the upgrade delivered on a commitment made last year when she visited the Northern Territory and spoke directly with residents who experienced connectivity issues. The Government is proud to support the technological development of regional and remote communities, she said.

“We are living in a world increasingly reliant on digital access and connectivity and we don’t want people in regional and remote communities to miss out on a vital aspect of modern life,” Minister Rishworth said.

“With these upgrades, we are ensuring people in these communities have reliable phone and internet access so they can stay connected and have ready access to important online services, banking and shopping.”

Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said the Albanese Government is taking a comprehensive approach to narrowing the digital divide through its First Nations Digital Inclusion Plan, which is focused around three key pillars: access, affordability, and ability.

“These upgrades will help ensure First Nations communities in the Northern Territory can take advantage of an increasingly digital world to stay connected, entertained and informed,” Minister Rowland said.

“Just installing new services without providing adequate training does little to narrow the digital divide if it means locals can’t properly use the service. Complementing these new services with digital literacy training will mean local residents can get online and stay connected more effectively, and help upskill other members of the community who may not have had ready access to these technologies before.”

Member for Lingiari Marion Scrymgour said it was vital that First Nations people have the same access to the internet and mobile services as Australians living in more populated areas.

“It is a question of equity,” Ms Scrymgour said.

“Mobile services in the bush are important not only for keeping connected with others but they also have safety implications which are amplified in remote areas.

“Whether you are applying for a job, paying bills or checking your bank account, digital inclusion is a necessity.”

The Project has been designed in close consultation with Northern Territory communities and will reflect the specific needs for increased phone and internet services in targeted areas.

Communities will receive free public Wi-Fi, improved mobile phone connectivity, and digital literacy support in the form of training and a physical helpdesk.

The regions that will participate in the Digital Connectivity Project include:

  • Barkly
  • Central Desert
  • MacDonnell
  • Roper Gulf
  • Tiwi Islands
  • Victoria Daly, and
  • West Daly

Upgrades in eight of the 21 communities set to benefit from the program will be delivered in partnership with the National Indigenous Australians Agency’s Remote Indigenous Communities Telecommunication Project.

/Public Release. View in full here.