Wheatbelt Digital Action Plan 2017
The revision of the 2013 plan has been released
The results of the RDA Wheatbelt 2017 survey illustrated people’s utilisation of digital technology has become more gradually nuanced and sophisticated as specialised technologies have become available or more user friendly. An indication of this is the uptake of weed/pest/disease management apps within the agribusiness sector. In 2012, these apps were not available but in the intervening years the availability of the apps has moved from non-existent or highly limited to widespread, generating a parallel consumer demand that was reflected by the 75% of agribusiness participants that were using the products.
Business participants exhibited a mounting awareness of the constraints that the less than adequate digital connectivity imposes on their businesses. The same could be said from an education standpoint with a sizeable proportion of parents indicating that reliable digital connectivity influenced their decision on where their children would complete secondary schooling. Their response suggests the concept that poor connectivity is contributing to the migration of school and post school age youth from the Wheatbelt to the city. Therefore it could be plausible, as participants responses suggested, that better and more reliable connectivity would go some way to reducing the levels of education migration in the region.
In essence, digital telecommunications are effectively the 21st century equivalent of the rail and road networks and are or could be delivering the same economic and social impacts to the region that rail and road delivered in the 19th and 20th centuries. That being the case, any shortcomings or inadequacies in the digital delivery systems has the potential to negate the best efforts of the Wheatbelt’s business owners and other invested stakeholders to develop and expand businesses, create employment and drive population growth in the region. Therefore it remains incumbent on RDAW, WDC and other government organisations along with all levels of government with vested interests in the Wheatbelt to facilitate the funding and investment needed to ensure the region has reliable digital connection.
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In 2013 RDA Wheatbelt supported the Australian Government’s aim to increase the number of people who telework to 12% by 2020.
In August 2015 the telework statistics available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated that around one-quarter of Australian workers (24%) worked at least part of their time from home.
In 2019 there was an increase in the proportion of employed people with access to flexible working hours (34% August 2019, up from 32% August 2015) and who regularly worked at home 32%
RDA Wheatbelt continues to advocate for comparable telecommunication in regard to access, speed and costs for regional residents and businesses to enable a greater uptake of telework options.