The fight for better internet in the outback
Passion for better internet in outback
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.
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.