In February 2016, the University of Southern Queensland’s Institute for Resilient Regions under Professor John Cole, conducted a series of regional workshops across the region to better understand the community’s aspiration for the longer term future for central western Queensland, the options for sustainable development and to better understand the ways the region can be made as resilient as possible.
The RAPAD group has been a strong advocate for connectivity in the region for many years. As individual councils and as a collective, the civic leaders of the region have lobbied hard for extra funding above and beyond the National Broadband Network (NBN). As this capability has been enabled, RAPAD, as the regional advocate, have been exploring ways in which digital tools can enable the aspirations outlined by the community.
In October 2016, RAPAD engaged Glentworth Consulting to undertake community consultation specifically on the digital aspiration of the region and produce a Smart Central West Digital Strategy.
Glentworth were in Western Queensland from 31 October until 4 November 2016, and during that period Glentworth conducted community round-tables in Blackall, Barcaldine, Longreach, Stonehenge, Jundah and Winton. In addition, phone conferences were held with participants from Diamantina and Boulia Shires. While in the region Glentworth, facilitated by RAPAD, made a particular effort to speak to as many people as possible, including both tourists and locals. Glentworth also visited tourist drawcards to test the experience. We estimate that Glentworth spoke to approximately 105 people during the consultation period. In addition, Glentworth has undertaken broad consultation of a number of people outside the region.
From that process Glentworth produced a document summarising the region’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as outlined by the participants in this process.
The Smart Central West Digital Strategy articulates a comprehensive but pragmatic plan to seize the region’s opportunities, mitigate the weaknesses, emphasise the strengths and avoid the threats. This reflects the geographical constraints and local conditions within the RAPAD region. While digital and connectivity is used as a tool to achieve these outcomes it is not used to the exclusion of other tools available. It is, instead preferred when it is the cheapest or most effective way of achieving an outcome.
Click to read the Smart Central West Digital Strategy