Ru­ral champ.

Kristy’s quest for bet­ter in­ter­net earns her a lead­er­ship award

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS - By James Ben­nett

A cam­paign to gain more se­cure and re­li­able data con­nec­tion for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties has earned for­mer Jer­ilderie res­i­dent Kristy Spar­row a Ru­ral Com­mu­nity Leader of the Year ti­tle.

Mrs Spar­row was pre­sented with the pres­ti­gious ABC Ru­ral award for her ef­forts in co-found­ing Bet­ter In­ter­net for Re­gional, Ru­ral and Re­mote (BIRRR) in 2014.

‘‘BIRRR is a vol­un­teer ad­vo­cacy group for re­gional in­ter­net ac­cess,’’ Mrs Spar­row said.

‘‘We’ve got about 10,000 mem­bers and we trou­bleshoot and ad­vo­cate for bet­ter in­ter­net.

‘‘We have helped sev­eral peo­ple in Fin­ley and Jer­ilderie with their in­ter­net con­nec­tions.’’

Mrs Spar­row, who now lives in Al­pha, Queens­land with her hus­band and two chil­dren, was in­spired to start BIRRR due to per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences.

She was restricted to a limited data plan when home school­ing her chil­dren.

‘‘We were restricted to 25 gi­ga­bytes and Queens­land dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum went dig­i­tal.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing was on­line but we didn’t have the tools or data needed to teach that cur­ricu­lum.

‘‘It was ex­tremely frus­trat­ing for me and other nearby res­i­dents so that’s why we cre­ated BIRRR.’’

Mrs Spar­row said with the is­sue not iso­lated to her area of Queens­land, the ad­vo­cacy group is gain­ing trac­tion in may other ar­eas of the coun­try.

She said it has in­cluded many peo­ple from the Fin­ley and Jer­ilderie ar­eas, and the wider South­ern Rive­rina.

Mrs Spar­row left Jer­ilderie af­ter grad­u­at­ing from De­niliquin High School in 1990. But she said it is still home. ‘‘Jer­ilderie is a great com­mu­nity and the place I started my com­mu­nity in­volve­ment.

‘‘My par­ents were al­ways heav­ily in­volved with com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties on a vol­un­teer level, so that gave me a taste of how im­por­tant it was to be in­volved with your lo­cal com­mu­nity.’’

Mrs Spar­row’s mother Ma­ree Thomas — who still lives in Jer­ilderie — said she was very proud of her daugh­ter.

‘‘She’s worked hard for her chil­dren and help­ing those in Queens­land, and has now worked hard with Jer­ilderie, Fin­ley and De­niliquin,’’ Mrs Thomas said.

‘‘Kristy knows what she’s talk­ing about. She’s on speak­ing terms with Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and politi­cians like Barn­aby Joyce, Pauline Han­son and Fiona Nash; they are lis­ten­ing to what she’s say­ing.’’

The en­ter­tain­ment was pro­vided by coun­try rock groups Iain Archibald Band and Eat My Shorts, while Wan­garatta lo­cal Jade Gib­son ‘‘rocked’’ the day stage in the carpark.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Stephen Dal­gliesh said the crowd was well be­haved.

‘‘The pa­trons were well man­nered; we even had vol­un­teers com­ment­ing on how po­lite peo­ple were,’’ Mr Dal­gliesh

‘‘Apex would like to take the op­por­tu­nity to thank the peo­ple of Jer­ilderie for their pa­tience re­gard­ing a small amount of mis­be­hav­ing rev­ellers over the course of the week­end.

‘‘While this caused a slight in­con­ve­nience, this is far out­weighed by the ben­e­fit to the com­mu­nity with do­na­tions up to $10,000 ex­pected to be made to to lo­cal com­mu­nity groups as a re­sult.’’

The Apex Club has de­cid- ed to dis­perse the money raised to Jer­ilderie Tidy Towns, Fin­ley High Ti­morLeste Im­mer­sion trip, Jer­ilderie Li­ons, Jer­ilderie Ru­ral Fire Brigade, Jer­ilderie Preschool, Jer­ilderie Public School and the Jer­ilderie cricket, football and other sports clubs.

Mr Dal­gliesh said an­other ben­e­fi­ciary of Jer­ilderie Apex Club ac­tiv­i­ties will be the Jer­ilderie In­de­pen- dent Liv­ing Units, with an an­nounce­ment re­gard­ing this to be made next week.

‘‘We couldn’t run this event so suc­cess­fully with­out the sup­port of these com­mu­nity groups,’’ Mr Dal­gliesh said.

‘‘We would also like thank our neigh­bour­ing Apex clubs of Fin­ley and Co­bram/Ba­rooga for their sup­port.’’

Kristy Spar­row ac­cepts her Ru­ral Com­mu­nity Leader of the Year from Mar­ket Check founder Brett Steven­son.

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