Credit: Victorian Budget 2018/19

Credit: Victorian Budget 2018/19

Victoria leverages on technology to connect and benefit regional and rural communities

According to the recently announced Budget 2018/19, the Victorian Government will be investing in technology to connect regional and rural communities in Victoria, as well as helping businesses state-wide to capture the opportunities of digital economy.

To bridge the digital divide faced by regional and rural Victoria, the Victorian Budget 2018/19 includes A$26.8 million to better connect businesses, farmers and families. This investment builds on the A$45 million investment in the Connecting Regional Communities Program from the Victorian Budget 2017/18.

The initiatives to connect regional and rural communities in Victoria include:

(1)    A$13.5 million to support Victorian small businesses state-wide, including digital economy roadshows in regional Victoria

The Government will provide additional support to small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) in Victoria by delivering small business mentoring services, workshops and themed events, including at the annual Small Business Festival.

A targeted digital roadshow in regional Victoria will also provide businesses with practical actions and advice on how to make the most of the digital economy and reduce cybersecurity risks.

The Victorian Small Business Commission’s farm debt mediation services will also be funded to continue to support Victorian farmers who are undertaking financial mediation with creditors. Funding is also provided for the refurbishment of the Small Business Commission, the Small Business Victoria website and to accommodate staff at the Small Business Commission’s offices.

(2)    A$11 million for a further round of the Victorian Mobile Project

The project aims to build extra telecommunications infrastructure and improve mobile coverage in blackspot areas across regional Victoria.

The Victorian Government is co-funding 166 new mobile base stations in areas with poor or no mobile coverage across the state. The new mobile towers will provide expanded 3G/4G mobile coverage for residents and local businesses.

(3)    A$300,000 to develop a business case to establish state‑of‑the‑art IT facilities for education providers in Ovens Murray

On top of that, the Victorian Government also established 9 Regional Partnerships that bring together public, private and community sectors to work on the priorities that matter most to local people.

The Victorian Budget 2018/19 includes almost A$760 million to deliver on key Regional Partnerships priorities, which incorporates a number of regional and state-wide initiatives, including: (1) A$11.6 million to further reduce the digital divide and better connect regional and rural communities, including funding for the Wodonga Business Innovation Cluster and Wangaratta Digital Hub, and (2) A$1.7 million to establish a regional centre of Excellence in the Mallee, to drive research, innovation and development in key industry sectors.

As reported earlier, Victoria investing A$17.6 million to deliver state’s Cyber Security Strategy. The state’s first ever Cyber Security Strategy will help protect the privacy of Victorians, while ensuring that the Victorian Government has the strong cyber security capabilities required to protect the delivery of public services. The Budget also includes A$2.6 million to assist the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner to better support government in protecting the privacy of Victorians.

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