Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (October 2011)

Published: November, 2011

The report shows community residents want access to computers at home

Outstations the losers in technology stakes

A recent study has highlighted the digital divide between Indigenous Australians living remotely and Australians living in cities.

A team of researchers from the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), Swinburne University of Technology’s ARC Centre for Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, and the Central Land Council looked at home computing and internet use in three small central Australian communities: Kwale Kwale, Mungalawurru and Imangara.

According to Andrew Crouch, a senior researcher at CAT, the results were cause for concern. “What we found was that having access to a computer and the internet is unusual for people living in outstations,” he said.

“Of the 45 people interviewed in the three communities, only 6 per cent currently have access to a computer at home.”

Despite this, the study also found that there was a strong desire within the communities for access to the technology, and for training in how to use it. The report showed that while the National Broadband Network will deliver broadband in some form to these communities, Aboriginal people will struggle to take advantage of it unless issues of affordability, skills, training and equipment are addressed. Meanwhile, the Federal Government has announced the formation of a Regional Telecommunications Review (RTR) Committee.

The RTR will review Telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia and aims to find initiatives that will enable remote and regional communities to participate in the digital economy.

The RTR is due to report back in March of next year.