Internet in remote Indigenous communities

13 Dec 2012


In late November ACCAN’s Indigenous policy officer, Michael Charlton, took part in a fieldtrip to central Australia as part of the ongoing Home Internet for Remote Indigenous Communities project.

The project aims to assess the reasons for low internet take-up and use by people living in remote Indigenous communities; to determine the needs of remote Indigenous communities in regard to home internet use (including training, affordability, online service delivery, and technology and maintenance); and provide advice through empirical research that will guide policy makers, funding bodies and service providers.

Michael’s companions on the fieldtrip were Andrew Crouch from the Centre of Appropriate Technology (CAT), Alyson Wright from the Central Land Council (CLC) and Eleanor Hogan from the Swinburne University of Technology.

The communities 

The first community visited was Mungalawurru, located within the Karlantijpa North Aboriginal Land Trust. Mungalawurru has around 22 permanent residents, with power being provided to the community through a solar power initiative from Cat's Bushlight program. At Mungalawurru the team conducted surveys with about six community members who used the computers frequently to determine what sites they visited most, whether people feel their digital literacy is improving, what values and attitudes the community attaches to ICT, and whether people would like to have their own internet subscription after the project is finished. The team also did some training in email, skype, and online shopping, as well as installed a new printer at one of the residences and gave some training on how to scan and email documents – extremely useful for people living in such remote areas.

The team then visited Imangara. Imangara is the largest of the three communities taking part in the project with a permanent residency of around 90-100 people. The community sits near the Murray Downs pastoral station and has a women’s centre, a school and access to a shop which is located about one kilometre from the community. Internet in the community is provided by two satellite dishes positioned so that houses at either end of the community have good access. As well as conducting surveys, two broken printers were replaced and team members provided some training for community members.

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