The federal government has increased funding for round three of the Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) by $10 million to $110 million to support First Nations people in Central Australia.
The additional $10 million in funding will be used to deliver “dedicated solutions to improve digital connectivity for First Nations communities in Central Australia,” according to the government.
This is excluding the previously pledged $15 million for solutions to improve telecommunications infrastructure in First Nations communities in eligible areas Australia-wide.
Through the additional funding, the government hopes to address low levels of digital inclusion for individuals and communities, which they predict will support improved social inclusion and access to online services including health, education and social support services.
In addition to the $110 million, the RCP also consists of round seven for the Mobile Black Spot stream, which contains a pool of $50 million for handheld mobile coverage for rural, regional and remote Australia.
Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said the additional funding would go towards improving mobile connectivity and telecommunications infrastructure.
Additionally, the government has extended the application period for the program by six weeks to 12 July, giving applicants more time to develop proposals.
“One message that I have heard clearly from the First Nations Digital Inclusion Advisory Group is the importance of ensuring adequate time for consultation and collaboration to ensure solutions best meet the priorities of communities,” Rowland said.
“With the benefit of the additional time we have provided, I encourage all community members and stakeholders to work closely together and help to deliver meaningful connectivity and coverage solutions.”
The RCP is part of the government’s broader Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia, which was announced in its 2022-23 Budget and consists of $1.1 billion in total.
It’s not just the government that’s looking to increase digital inclusion for First Nations people, as the channel is also making strides in this area. Queensland-based Indigenous IT firm Baidam Solutions is just one example, as it partnered with cyber security innovator White Rook Cyber and security operations centre (SOC) specialist Tarian Cyber for a First Nations SOC, which was announced last month.
It also partnered with Canary Technology Solutions to provide opportunities for Indigenous people alongside expanded technology offerings in October last year.