THE average house in a remote Indigenous community uses about a third of the power consumed by a suburban home, is six times more prone to overcrowding, and probably doesn’t have a home internet connection. Among the rare exceptions – at least when it comes to the internet – are twenty houses in the small communities of Kwale Kwale, Mungalawurru and Imangara in central Australia. With federal funding, these households have been given computers, internet access and training, and receive regular visits and advice.
When the project commenced, there were fears that the computers would never last. This is a harsh environment, hot and dusty, and homes are typically crowded and a long way from repair shops. Cultural factors – including mobility and attitudes to property ownership – added an extra layer of complexity. And the fact that very few households had purchased computers and taken out internet subscriptions of their own accord was seen by some critics as proof that, at best, home internet was not the preferred means of online access or, worse, it was inappropriate or unviable.