The fight for bet­ter in­ter­net in the out­back

Pas­sion for bet­ter in­ter­net in out­back

NewsMail - Wide Bay Rural Weekly - - Front Page - Vanessa Jar­ret

TWO years ago, Kristy Spar­row had a vague idea to start a Face­book group to see if oth­ers were fac­ing in­ter­net is­sues like her and to­day it has led her to op­por­tu­ni­ties she could not have pos­si­bly imag­ined.

This year the Al­pha gra­zier was awarded the In­no­va­tion and Lead­er­ship award at the Queens­land Re­gional Achieve­ment and Com­mu­nity Awards in Bris­bane for her work as founder and vol­un­teer for the Bet­ter In­ter­net for Ru­ral, Re­gional and Re­mote Aus­tralia group.

The pas­sion­ate mother of two is surely go­ing places.

Ear­lier in the month, Kristy was awarded Woman of the Year at the Queens­land Ru­ral, Re­gional and Re­mote Women’s net­work in Roma.

De­spite all the hard work she puts into the group, spend­ing up to 50 vol­un­teer hours a week help­ing oth­ers fix data is­sues, Kristy is still in shock she won both awards.

"It’s been a bit of a whirl­wind," Kristy said.

"I cer­tainly didn't ex­pect it and it has been a bit of a shock as my in­box has been full of nom­i­na­tions for var­i­ous awards over the last few months.

"It was very hum­bling and an hon­our to even be nom­i­nated.

"I feel hon­oured to win both awards and am grate­ful that I am able to have the op­por­tu­nity to be the voice of bush telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions.”

BIRRR now sus­tains over 8000 mem­bers; a lot more than Kristy ever ex­pected.

"I never ex­pected the group to grow to this ex­tent and for the is­sues to be still grow­ing," Kristy said.

"We ini­tially set out to be a group that shared in­for­ma­tion and now we have de­vel­oped into a trou­bleshoot­ing and ad­vo­cacy group."

Hav­ing just cel­e­brated BIRRR’s sec­ond birth­day, Kristy has not been alone in found­ing and run­ning the group. Kylie Stret­ton, from Char­ters Tow­ers, co-founded the group with Kristy, as­sist­ing with the set-up of the Face­book group and other jobs.

"It is a team ef­fort; it is not some­thing I have ever done by my­self. I have al­ways had the sup­port and as­sis­tance of the fan­tas­tic BIRRR vol­un­teers, who all bring their own spe­cial­i­ties to the team," Kristy ex­plained.

"Along my jour­ney I have gath­ered some other amaz­ing vol­un­teers who have helped ease the work­load. BIRRR now has five women as ad­mins and sev­eral other vol­un­teers who help as­sist with web­site ar­ti­cles, tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion and other things. Us­ing her power through BIRRR, she has met with ser­vice providers, the me­dia and gov­ern­ment bod­ies to lobby and fix the #datadrought but still be­lieves there is a long way to go.

"I am cur­rently on Sky Muster NBN satel­lite and I am happy with the speeds and ser­vice so far," Kristy said.

Noth­ing is stop­ping Kristy and BIRRR, with big plans for the fu­ture.

"In the long-term we will con­tinue to ad­dress the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues faced by peo­ple who live and work in ru­ral and re­mote Aus­tralia," Kristy said.

"We will con­tinue our ad­vi­sory, sup­port and lob­by­ing in an at­tempt to over­come the #datadrought.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

WELL DE­SERVED: Kristy with her fam­ily, 14-year-old twins Tom and Made­lyn and hus­band Alex, at the Queens­land Re­gional Achieve­ment and Com­mu­nity Awards in Bris­bane ear­lier in the month.

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