Smart Procurement in the Cape

The future sustainability of Cape Yorks largest local digital network has been significantly boosted by an agreement with Optus that will deliver $2.1 million over five years. Today’s signing marks a fundamental change the manner in which the Queensland Government, corporate sector, and indigenous organisations deliver economic development and services in the region.

“This is a flexible package that will inject $420,000 worth of information technology training and services into the cape every year via Balkanu’s Cape York Digital Network (cydn) project”, said Executive Director of Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation, Gerhardt Pearson. “It’s been made possible by the State Government insisting on Balkanu being the preferred subcontractor to telecommunications carriers supplying broadband services to the Queensland Government in Cape York.”

Governments in countries such as Canada are able to foster the growth of remote indigenous business through preferential procurement for government services. The minimal indigenous private sector in Australia has meant little chance to do the same thing here. Balkanu’s long standing focus on creating business and promoting a corporate culture in Cape York has led to this opportunity, which Optus and the SmartNet process have taken full advantage of.

“Unfortunately some government grants fund programs that disappear without a trace once the money flow stops,” says Mr. Pearson. “Today’s agreement is a superior model because it brings in the resources and expertise of corporate players like Optus, builds specialised local business, and sees the government playing a constructive coordination role, rather than simply handing out grant dollars.”

Having largely completed the roll-out phase, cydn is increasing its product range and customer base, bringing the benefits of a managed IP network to a growing number of community councils and local people on the peninsula. The result is the creation of a growing number of real jobs and small business activity.

“We are particularly pleased that Optus has indicated they are looking seriously at establishing a call centre in Cape York,” says Gerhardt Pearson. “This is the economic potential of information technology in remote areas actually being put into practice.”

The existence of cydn also offers an ideal opportunity for various government agencies to modernise their service delivery, and same time and money in the process. The active involvement of Optus to facilitate this change will be an essential ingredient in bringing the benefits of the Smart State to the most remote Queenslanders.

“This agreement with Optus through the Queensland Government is a milestone, but we are operating in a difficult environment,” says Balkanu’s Executive Director. “The hard work of implementing it in a practical day-to-day manner lies ahead.”

The Cape York Digital Network (www.cydn.com.au) is part of the Outback Digital Network (www.odn.net.au) which is supported by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts via the Networking the Nation fund.

Gerhardt Pearson. Executive Director, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation:
0419 773 433. Balkanu Office: 07 4051 9089 (Kimiko Gabey)

Sue Connolly: Community Manager, Cape York Digital Network. 0428 832 887
Ray Heffernan: Business Manager, Cape York Digital Network. 0419 717 485

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