New research by James Cook University explores the need to improve digital connectivity in Far North Queensland agricultural communities. Rural local governments and community organisations also need to be empowered develop and deliver grassroots digital upskilling programs.
The policy-focused report involved a qualitative study of digital connectivity and telecommunications in rural Far North Queensland (FNQ). It produced 11 findings relating to the struggled that pastoral communities in accessing and using digital technologies. The report delivers seven recommendations for policy and program development by federal, state and local governments in partnership with community and industry organisations.
In 2018, with funding from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), JCU partnered with Northern Gulf Resource Management Group to complete fieldtrips to towns and properties across the Northern Gulf. Research lead Dr Amber Marshall presented at rural events, undertook interviews and focus groups, and conducted three case studies of cattle properties.
“Agricultural communities in FNQ and around the country contribute significantly to Australia’s economic output and national identity. However, these people are at significant disadvantage compared to urban Australians because they often do not have the necessary access and skills to thrive in life and work in the digital economy,” said Dr Marshall.