The Coalition Government is improving access to online services for residents living in remote Goldfields communities.
The Department of Human Services recently completed major technology upgrades at nine sites in the Goldfields, making it easier for locals to access essential services such as Medicare and Centrelink online.
The upgrades include improvements to internet speeds and stability at the Department’s network of agents and access points, as well as the installation of new self-service terminals that can connect residents with a wider range of government agencies.
Residents can also now access restricted free Wi-Fi at the self-service points, allowing them to use their mobile devices to access a limited number of private services such as online banking, job networks and education and training providers.
The improvements are part of the Department’s Remote ICT Capability Enhancement program, (RICE) which began in 2016 and has already seen upgrades completed at almost 600 communities around Australia.
Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said the program was helping to ensure that all Australians have access to the services they need, regardless of where they live.
“Until now, the reality for many who live in the bush has been a lengthy road-trip if they wanted to do business with government, or having to wait weeks for a mobile service centre to visit their area,” Mr Keenan said.
“By harnessing the power of the Internet, we are breaking down the barriers associated with isolation and are bringing Government services straight to people’s front doors.”
Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson said the improvements were a boon for communities, especially those where reliable Internet reception was previously unavailable.
“As well as improved access to Government services, the ability to now access free Wi-Fi to do things like Internet banking, downloading government apps or looking for work will benefit a great many people,” Mr Wilson said.
“This program is also ongoing, and more upgrades will be delivered over the next two years which will further improve the lives of those in the Goldfields.”
Future enhancements include adding printers and scanners to access terminals, which will enable residents to print, sign and re-scan forms on the spot, reducing delays caused by having to return them through the post.
The Goldfields communities that have received the upgrades are Coolgardie, Cosmo Newberry, Cue, Kambalda, Leonora, Menzies, Mulga Queen, Norseman and Tjuntjuntjara.