Northern Australian Communication Analysis

Strategic policy development
Reference number
CRCNA funding
Total project value
Project length
1 year
Finish date
Project Status
Project Manager
Carla Keith


  • Queensland University of Technology – Digital Media Research Centre (QUT)
  • Premise
  • James Cook University – The Cairns Institute (JCU)
  • Charles Darwin University – Northern Institute (CDU)
  • Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT)
  • Regional Development Australia, Northern Territory (RDANT)


The purpose of this project is to mobilise an emerging consortium of research, business and industry partners to investigate the impacts and relevance of digital inclusion for developing northern Australia, including identifying impediments and solutions to enterprise and social development

Digital inclusion – access, affordability and digital ability – is essential to economic prosperity, social inclusion and community cohesiveness. Furthermore, digital exclusion exacerbates social and economic disadvantages, such as low-income status, low levels of education, and remoteness.

The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) reveals some northern Australians (particularly in NW QLD, NT and rural WA) are missing out on the benefits of digital inclusion. Given that Deloitte’s Connected Continent II report estimates Australia’s digital economy will be worth $139 billion by 2020 (7.3% of GDP), digital inclusion is an essential component of the task of developing northern Australia.

The project will culminate in a directions paper outlining a detailed road map for digital inclusion research, practice, and policy development for northern Australia. It will include case studies that provide a snapshot of the connectivity challenges and impacts in northern Australia, and a technical note will be produced detailing the identified solutions, potential ag tech opportunities and associated recommendations of this project. It will be presented in a format designed to assist producers in northern Australia how to assess their connectivity needs, for themselves, and identify potential solutions

Expected outcomes

  • Improved (supply chain) efficiencies in northern Australia: The research will contribute to our understanding of internet-enabled opportunities for supply chain efficiencies (including in agriculture, health, social services, tourism, indigenous enterprise, and remote service businesses (construction, etc)). This will include giving insight to access, affordability and ability at each stage of the supply chain and across stakeholder groups, including employees/end-users, business owners, consumers, intermediaries and industry leaders. These insights will result in preliminary suggestions for local, state and federal government about technology infrastructure investment, development policy, and community interventions to aid prosperity in the digital economy.
  • Generation of new jobs in northern Australia: Building on the contributions to supply chain efficiencies, the research will help develop ideas for new digitally-enabled social and economic enterprise. It will help shape the policy through which northern Australians gain adequate access to affordable internet, along with essential skills to be employed or become entrepreneurs in the digital economy. This will help attract and retain skilled workers to areas where they are most needed in the North.
  • Improved wellbeing of the northern Australian community: This research will investigate and demonstrate the links between digital inclusion, social inclusion and the wellbeing of individuals and communities in the northern Australian context. This contextualised understanding of digital inclusion will help inform future research, policy agendas, and outputs/outcomes that are tailored to the unique opportunities and challenges of northern Australia.