- The National Recovery and Resilience Agency seeks to address the telecommunications problem in regional Australia that poses a major communication barrier especially in times of crisis.
- This agency was established, bringing together the former National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency, and National Bushfire Recovery Agency.
- The two most recent connectivity forums that the agency held were in two flood zones, Charter Towers and Cloncurry.
The National Recovery and Resilience Agency seeks to address the telecommunications problem in regional Australia that poses a major communication barrier especially in times of crisis.
Following the two successful user connectivity forums in North Queensland, the National Recovery and Resilience Agency is pushing to play a vital whole-of-government role in boosting regional telecommunications.
After a recommendation of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, this agency was established, bringing together the former National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency, and National Bushfire Recovery Agency.
National Recovery and Resilience Agency CIO Bas Wilson said, “the recovery agency views telecommunications as a key issue… it’s something that comes up again and again and we’re not about to vacate the space.” He added, “we are keen to work with the whole-of-government partners to determine what’s next.”
Wilson told CommsDay, “one of our roles is congestion-busting and the whole-of-government coordination. We’re not the NBN and we’re not the Department of Communications, but we do have a network of regional offices who hear from people on the ground and raise these issues.”
The two most recent connectivity forums that the agency held were in two flood zones, Charter Towers and Cloncurry. These were hit by the 2019 monsoon which seriously affected North Queensland. Wilson said, “as part of that consultation, one of the major things that came back to us was telecommunications is viewed by the local communities as a major barrier to effective recovery and resilience.” He added, “it came to us that telecommunication is a major problem in regional Australia.”
In the forums, two main challenges were being raised, Wilson said: first is the need to educate and help people on digital literacy and what is available, and second, is about what needs to be done across the whole-of-government on a large strategic scale. The Agency has already started a couple of pilot projects with the Western Queensland Alliance of Councils “around how do we better design and articulate what a larger picture, for those councils, might look like.”
Wilson said that the Agency wants these groups of councils to come together, collectively approach telecom challenges and say: “We think there’s benefit to greater mobile coverage through these regions for both the economic stability of our businesses, the ability for them to move online… And we think from a state perspective that this form of backhaul connectivity will better service health services and allow us to do telehealth, the education sector… And then from a federal level, we think that supplying a backhaul connection through these three towns will increase the resilience of fibre through diverse paths, which means that the next disaster event will have better resilience.”
Winston quoted, “We do see… spurts of money spent in a sensible fashion, but when you step back and you say well there was five or six spurts of money spent in this area, if those were wrapped together and spent as a block, you would have got a lot more value, or if you coordinated that backhaul run and you’re not just connecting two town, you can have been connected four.”
Learn more about the major role of this Agency and how they intend to achieve their goals by calling CBB at 1300-106-571 for more information.