$53m fund open to pitches to connect regional Australia

Pitches open to $53m fund to connect regional Australia

Politics
CONNECT: The fund aims to provided target infrastructure to regional Australia. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

CONNECT: The fund aims to provided target infrastructure to regional Australia. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

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Projects could range from upgrading connectivity in regional tourism hotspots, like wineries and wildlife parks to better internet connection for distance education.

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THE government is calling for organisations to pitch their regional connectivity solutions, as it opens applications to a $53-million fund.

The Regional Connectivity Program aims to provide targeted investment in local telecommunications projects that maximise economic and social opportunities in the bush.

Projects could range from upgrading connectivity in regional tourism hotspots, like wineries and wildlife parks to enterprise-grade internet to support key sectors such as agriculture or manufacturing.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher encouraged telcos, regional communities and all levels of government to collaborate and apply for funding.

"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," Mr Fletcher said.

Regional Communications Minister 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 a real bite," Mr Coulton said.

"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."

Other examples of possible projects include upgrading mobile infrastructure to support telehealth or distance education or a regional fixed wireless networks to provide Wi-Fi to during surging demand, such as during festivals and the tourist season.

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

Applications are open until close of business on October 20.

The guidelines and application process is available on the government's central grants website: grants.gov.au.

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