The Federal Government has opted to keep the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) as overseer and operator of the Regional Tech Hub, which provides regional communities with free and independent advice on internet and voice services connectivity.
This Government said it will continue to expand its work and reach under its new $6 million and three-year investment program, part of the Government’s Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia.
The Plan provides more than $1.1 billion to rural and regional communities, including $656 million to improve mobile and broadband connectivity and resilience in rural and regional Australia.
Under the terms of the deal, the NFF will support the Hub’s services over the next three years as it connects with regional, rural and remote consumers and provides independent, factual information and troubleshooting advice.
Key initiatives to be undertaken as part of this expansion include the:
- delivery of a new regional partnership model to drive increased on-ground engagement and to reach even more people across regional Australia;
- creation of an expanded information library with resources in on-farm connectivity, business, health and education, Indigenous connectivity, and natural disasters and emergencies resources;
- transition of the existing Regional Tech Hub website into an expanded online Connectivity Resource Hub
- establishment of a new program designed to enhance digital and connectivity literacy; and
- strengthening of connections with local and state governments, community groups, business chambers, the on-farm connectivity community, and First Nations groups, among others.
The renewed program for the Regional Tech Hub will commence on 1 July, with existing online resources and a free 1300- helpline available now.
Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, confirmed that expanded operations of the Hub will deliver on the recommendation of the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee (RTIRC) 2021 Report.
“The Hub helps people navigate the complex world of connectivity. The overwhelming number of individuals accessing the Hub’s services each year is a testament to the high demand for accessible and impartial advice on phone and internet options,” NFF chief executive, Tony Mahar, said.
Commenting on the announcement, manager of the Regional Tech Hub, Jennifer Medway, added the new three-year plan for the Hub signalled “an exciting new direction, aligned with the Government’s vision for an expanded service”.