A new plan to tackle the digital divide in central Victoria has been welcomed by the Victorian Government, following a detailed analysis of the current digital infrastructure landscape in the region.
The Central Highlands Digital Plan is the first of its kind in Victoria and is one of nine digital plans currently under development in collaboration with the government’s Regional Partnerships initiative, which work across the state.
The Victorian Government backed the development of the digital plans across regional Victoria through a $1 million investment from the Connecting Regional Communities Program, as part of its commitment to ensuring regional Victorians had the same level of infrastructure and services as what was available in Melbourne.
The support followed calls from the community to prioritise digital connectivity at Regional Partnerships Assemblies since 2016.
Developed by the Central Highlands Regional Partnership, the new digital plan provides a comprehensive overview of digital infrastructure and supply shortages across six local government areas in Ballarat, Moorabool, Golden Plains, Ararat, Pyrenees and Hepburn.
It incorporates investigative fieldwork and mapping of current services such as mobile coverage, fixed broadband for businesses, public WiFi and Internet of Things networks.
Since 2014, the Victorian Government has invested $130 million to improve digital connectivity across rural and regional Victoria.
Approximately 14 new mobile towers have been built within the Central Highlands region to address blackspots, which have improved public safety, liveability and economic opportunities.
The Victorian Government’s investment has also improved mobile connectivity on VLine rail services between Melbourne and Ballarat and delivered a free public WiFi network in Ballarat.
The remaining eight plans are expected to be released over the coming months.