The Weekly Advertiser Horsham
Probe zeroes in on state’s southwest
Regional, rural and remote communities in western Victoria are having their say on telecommunications issues through a series of national online consultation sessions.
The Federal Government’s 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review sessions are in response to COVID-19 border restrictions.
Consultation occurred in Victoria’s northwest earlier this month and a southwest session will be on Monday.
Telecommunications issues in relatively remote areas of the Wimmera and Western District have been the subject of considerable debate.
Victoria’s Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership has identified improving general regional ‘connectivity’ as a priority.
A review committee is encouraging people to join a consultation session, and if they cannot, to provide a written submission to an Issues Paper by the end of September.
The Issues Paper, consultation dates and details on how to make a submission are available online at www.rtirc.gov.au.
People can lodge written submissions until Thursday, September 30, 2021. Review committee chair Luke Hartsuyker said the virtual consultations were proving successful, with strong community attendance.
He said the sessions had allowed a five-member Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee to hear first-hand how people were accessing and using telecommunications services in regional areas.
Consultations sessions have been occurring across all states.
Mr Hartsuyker said session feedback was critical and would help set the telecommunications agenda for many years.
“Local issues can often require local solutions, and we want to hear about those challenges to ensure this review has a significant impact on how the government responds,” he said.
“What we want to do – and what the virtual consultations allow us to do – is to ensure we have a wide range of views from regional, rural and remote stakeholders across Australia.”
The committee has heard from people ‘on the ground’ about the importance of telecommunications in regional areas.
Mr Hartsuyker said the consultation sessions had already revealed many issues that would be included in the committee’s report back to the Federal Government at the end of the year.
“The committee has so far heard from communities about important issues such as mobile and broadband service reliability and resilience as well as knowing what connectivity options are available,” he said.
“My committee and I will be providing a report card as to the state of play in regional telecommunications.
‘We will also be providing recommendations to government as to ways in which services in regional areas can be improved, including the use of new and emerging technologies.
“Even if they can’t get to a virtual consultation, I would encourage stakeholders to have their say by providing a written submission and encourage others in their community to do so as well.
“It does not need to be long, what we are interested in is the issues that are important to people.”
The committee must report to government before December 31.