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Victoria develops 9 regional partnerships to boost digital connectivity

The Victorian-first programme was announced by Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford. The programme includes investigative fieldwork and mapping of current services including mobile coverage, improved fixed broadband for businesses, and digital hubs and co-working spaces.

Nine regional partnerships in Victoria will share A$1 million from the Victorian Government to develop comprehensive digital plans to address the needs and priorities of their region. Each plan will include a complete picture of digital infrastructure needs and identify the local opportunities that unleash the latest economic and social potential of using new technology.

“Improved digital connectivity will bring considerable benefits to regional Victoria – improving health, education and employment outcomes, and supporting businesses, economic growth and jobs in the region,” said Minister Pulford.

The nine regional partnerships have been established in Barwon, Central Highlands, Gippsland, Goulburn, Great South Coast, Loddon Campaspe, Ovens Murray, Mallee and Wimmera Southern Mallee.

Across the nine regional partnerships is the common need to address the digital divide when it comes to access and use of quality infrastructure and services. 

“We know that local communities are best placed to determine their priorities. We heard that digital connectivity was an absolute must for our Regional Partnerships – and we’re getting on with the job,” said Minister Pulford.

This A$1-million funding is in direct response to the community following all nine regional partnerships calling for improvements to digital infrastructure.

Over the past 18 months, the regional partnerships have made a significant impact. These regional partnerships have led to a A$45 million boost in the Victorian Budget 2017/18 for digital initiatives across the state.

Improving connectivity to boost the digital economy has been a priority for the Victorian Government. The A$45-million boost aims to give regional Victorian homes and businesses access to mobile and broadband technologies enabling them to participate in the digital economy.

As reported earlier, the investment from the Victorian Government will include: (1) A$11 million for the Mobile Black Spots program with a focus on increasing mobile telephone coverage in flood and fire prone areas with poor coverage, (2) A$12 million for projects to support the adaption of internet enabled on-farm technologies in Victoria’s North-West, the Macalister Irrigation District, the Murray-Darling Basin and the Serpentine region, (3) A$7 million for regional enhanced broadband projects in Morwell, North Geelong and Horsham, (4) A$7 million for Digital Economy Plan initiatives to drive innovation and increase the competitiveness of regional industries, (5) A$7 million for free public Wi-Fi in Shepparton and Geelong, and (6) A$1 million to improve regional services through access to government communications infrastructure.

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