Attacking the great digital divide in Australia’s outback

It is transforming the world. But is it leaving indigenous Australia behind? Cynthia Karena travelled to the Northern Territory to investigate the digital divide in our Australia’s backyard.Having to transport computer equipment in a tinny down the river so it can get to a remote indigenous school in the Northern Territory is just part of the challenge of bringing technology to remote communities.The equipment was donated last week by Hewlett-Packard (HP) to the St Francis Xavier School at Daly River, 224 kilometres south of Darwin. But the wet season means rain, and lots of it. It is a three-hour drive to Daly River if the roads aren’t flooded or a half-hour plane trip if the runway isn’t flooded. Then there’s the river.”We started to drive there, got halfway, but flooding meant we took printers, monitors, screens, workstations in a tinny down the river,” says Kyina Harris, HP’s education marketing manager, who helped transport and set up the equipment at the school.”There are no commercial flights to Daly River, and it’s too expensive to charter a plane.”For the other six months of the year the Territory is dry, hot and dusty. “And bugs get into the computers,” says Ms Harris. (Yes, old-fashioned, organic bugs. Even as I’m tapping this story out on the laptop in Darwin, minute bugs are crossing my screen and running over the keyboard).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.