Opportunities To Fund Telecommunications Projects In The Hinterland

Applications for the Australian Government’s $53 million Regional Connectivity Program are now open, with projects in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland eligible for funding.

The Program will provide targeted investment in local telecommunications infrastructure projects to maximise economic and social opportunities in regional, rural, and remote communities across the country.

Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace said “The Federal Government is already providing funding for four Mobile Black Spot towers in Glass House Mountains, Beerwah, near Peachester and in the Booloumba region, but we want to ensure that regional communities, including the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, have the best telecommunications infrastructure possible.”

“This program provides funding to support the community to partner with telecommunications providers and other stakeholders to create the projects that are going to make the biggest difference in our region” Mr Wallace said.

Examples of projects that could be funded under the Program include upgrades to mobile infrastructure to improve community access to telehealth, remote education and retail internet and phone services, or the development of enterprise-grade broadband networks to support local agricultural, manufacturing and tourism businesses to engage more competitively online.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, is encouraging telecommunications providers, regional communities, regional development organisations, as well as state, territory and local governments to collaborate and apply for funding through the Program.

“We are taking a ‘place based’ approach to investment through the Program because we recognise our regions make an enormous contribution to our economy nationally but have distinct digital needs and in some cases require custom solutions,” Minister Fletcher said.

“The Program complements the National Broadband Network rollout which is delivering fast, affordable broadband to all Australians, and the Mobile Black Spot Program, which is switching on reliable mobile coverage in rural and remote areas.”

Minister for Regional Communications, Mark Coulton, said potential applicants should work together to develop projects for funding to maximise the benefits for communities.

“Collaboration is an excellent method to give an application real ‘bite’. We are looking for projects that will provide the most profound benefit to local communities and by joining forces, I’m confident we will see many great solutions come from the bush to improve services in the bush,” Minister Coulton said.

“I encourage all interested parties to use the Program Noticeboard to share resources and expertise on projects and work together to improve connectivity for regional communities.”

The online Program Noticeboard provides a portal for collaboration where applicants can find and register potential projects, linking regional communities and industry providers.

Mr Wallace encouraged local residents to contact their Sunshine Coast Councillor or their telecommunications provider to ask whether they are planning on applying for any funding within the region.

“Finally, if you are part of a community group or a local business with an idea for a telecommunications project that could benefit our region, please search online for the Regional Connectivity Program Noticeboard and register your project for consideration.”

Applications are open until 20 October 2020 (5:00pm AEDT). The guidelines and application process is available on the Government’s central grants website: www.grants.gov.au