In 2015, Telstra and the Northern Territory Government signed an infrastructure co-investment agreement to expand telecommunications infrastructure across the Northemrn Territory, serving more remote communities with mobile and fixed broadband services. To help ensure that this infrastructure makes a real and positive difference, Telstra requested the Indigenous Remote Communications Association (IRCA) to submit a proposal for the delivery of an Indigenous digital mentor project in these remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Northern Territory communities.
inDigiMOB is about improving digital inclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote Northern Territory communities. It does this by forming partnerships with communities and local organisations and making available a suite resources that communities can take advantage of according to their needs.
These resources include technical, training and infrastructure support around digital technology and the online world. They aim to establish a network of local digital mentors; improve digital literacy through workshops and training; support connectivity solutions; provide technical advice; and develop appropriate and relevant learning tools.
Through years of experience and consultations, IRCA has identified four key obstacles to the take up and use of technology in remote Indigenous communities:
- Affordability of internet services including limited information on data packages, costs management in relation to excessive bandwidth usage costs
- Accessibility of internet services including knowledge of internet services available in remote communities, blackspot issues
- Awareness of community members of the potential of the internet and or managing potential issues including limited digital training, on-ground support and mentors, and cyber safety issues
- Appropriateness of internet take-up programs including lack of language-based training, lack of culturally appropriate training spaces and delivery modes.
inDigiMOB commenced in 2016 with a pilot program partnering with Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in Arlparra and with Tangentyere Council in four Alice Springs town camps (Karnte, Hidden Valley, Trucking Yards and Larapinta Valley). In 2017, PAW Media and Communications became a partner delivering the inDigiMOB program in Yuendumu and Yuelamu.
Throughout 2017, inDigiMOB will gradually extend its digital inclusion program to additional remote Northern Territory communities. To do this, IRCA is seeking partnerships with local organisations who share the vision of a digitally connected remote Australia.
Why digital inclusion?
By bridging the digital divide, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can experience improved access to health, government and financial services; wellbeing through connection with family and friends; access to education pathways; improved employment readiness; and autonomy over sharing, preserving and recording their stories and culture.
A Suite of Resources
inDigiMOB seeks to support communities and partner organisations to bridge the digital divide and achieve their digital inclusion goals by adapting a number of resources and support possibilities according to needs, as identified by communities.
Communities have been identified and prioritised based on the selection criteria that balances funding obligations with need and capacity.
Community selection criteria:
- Northern Territory communities that, where possible, are part of the Telstra and the Northern Territory Government Co-Investment Project.
- Communities that are serviced by suitable partner organisations.
- Communities where ICT training and technical support is most needed.
Supporting more communities
Communities not identified as priority sites – they may lack facilities or already be well serviced – can still benefit from inDigiMOB resources. They may be geographically close to inDigiMOB sites or serviced by inDigiMOB partner organisations. Arranging specialist workshop intensives in such sites may be appropriate; or providing some technical support around a connectivity issue may be possible. When planning for workshop delivery in target communities, it may be possible to include neighbouring communities.