Digital IQ - History - Beginnings, outcomes, legacy and the future


Digital IQ is supporting digital connectivity and innovation within regional areas. 

 

As a community focused initiative, Digital IQ provides access to local area expertise, advice and information within the community. 

 

Digital IQ works with partners to provide advisory, workshops and digital resources explaining the opportunities provided to community (individuals), businesses (including start-ups) and community groups (Non Profits) based within regional areas. 

 

Digital IQ delivers within regional communities, initiatives that encourage and support digital inclusiveness; so that all community members can benefit from digital and internet technologies. A key point of differentiation for Digital IQ is capacity for regional mobility.

 

Digital IQ is adapt at delivering training and digital program models incorporating regional 'face to face' engagement. The Digital IQ initiative and volunteer advisers understand the importance of community engagement and provide direct support to regional & remote communities.

 

Our foundation philosophy - "To make good things happen in the regions, you need good people with key knowledge and skills on the ground, within the regions serving the regions"

History


Digital IQ can trace origins to early 2011, when community members within the Tamworth and Liverpool Plains, began a process of exploring opportunities connected to higher speed broadband internet, mobile reception and related technologies.

 

Visionary community leaders could see opportunities to explore new business models and modes of service delivery, that could tackle the tyranny of distance, provide new forms of community services, health innovations and new forms of communications.

 

Community members came together to create a vision board for Digital Futures, that ultimately led to an application for funding support via a Federal Initiative 'Digital Enterprise Program'. The application for support was successful and work commenced on the development of local area training materials, training workshops and advisory sessions. The project attracted community minded volunteer advisors and supporters , offering to provide in kind expertise and resources. 

 

The program was named 'Tamworth and Liverpool Plains Digital Enterprise Program' (DEP) providing digital development support to small businesses and not for profit community groups. As the program was supporting not for profits (including charity groups) the DEP was supported via the local community in many ways including volunteers providing their time, local businesses donating resources to support the initiative and local government councils providing in kind support. A record of time and contributions received from the community. was maintained.

 

The DEP was launched in Tamworth during 2012, involving The McGrath Foundation (Guest speaker, the then CEO - Kylea Tink), local area country music performer (Alyce Simmonds) and others who donated their time to support the event. Many community members came together to celebrate the launch of the DEP initiative and to support the event.  The venue for the launch event was donated (via Wests Group) and local area businesses including Tamworth Travel World, Danny's the Jewelers, Tamworth Community College, donated time, prizes and resources to the launch. Small donations were contributed at the event towards assisting establish additional 'Breast Care Nurses' within the New England North West region. (*a significant % of McGrath Foundation 'Breast Care Nurses' are positioned within regional and rural communities across Australia, a legacy that continues to the present)

 

The DEP launch event benefiting the McGrath Foundation and the many NFP groups participating within the DEP was supported by 2TM and 92.9FM ; with team members from the station showing up on the day and conducting interviews during the DEP program. 

Outcomes


The DEP provided support to the community during Oct 2012 to late Oct 2014. Across this period the DEP delivered on the ground support across the region, including delivery of over 75 training workshops involving 1,000+ participants. A key outcome was assisting business and NFP community groups, develop and implement 'digital strategies' including setting up websites, ecommerce, social media and connectivity tools. Over 300 entities implemented new digital approaches to conducting operations.  

 

Requests to facilitate DEP events were received from surrounding area townships including Gunnedah, Narrabri, Moree, Glen Innes, Armidale, Tenterfield. Materials and training were provided at no cost to these communities, as supporters including volunteer advisors and facilitators provided support. An additional 30 workshops were delivered across the region involving an additional 1,000 participants.  

 

Other digital type programs provided around the region concluded and were finalised. Participants within these concluded programs, reached out to connect, towards gaining potential additional support via online resources. At the conclusion of the DEP initiative well over 2,500+ connections were engaged with the DEP from across the region.

Volunteers, Guest Speakers & Community Leaders


The success of the DEP and the ongoing Digital IQ legacy initiative would not have been possible, without the many volunteers, guest speakers and community leaders that contributed and 'put back' into the community.  ‘Guest Speakers’ who contributed volunteer time and expertise to the project included:

 

Mrs Angela Lavender (The Present Cupboard, Country Culture) 

Ms Kylea Tink (the then CEO, McGrath Foundation)

Mr Mark Morton (CEO, Practical Systems Software)

Mrs Heidi Manning (2 Creative Media)

Ms Lisa Goodhand (China Blue Print)

Mr 8 Ball Aitken (8 Ball Country Music Performer)

Mr Greg Alder (Greg Alder and Co) - also donated the DEP website for the region. (circa $10k donation)

 

‘Trainers’ and training support was provided via Tamworth Community College including :

Mrs Michelle Simpson (EO),  Mr Rogan Poulier (Trainer, Tamworth Community College), Mrs Shan Easey (Trainer)

 

Volunteer ‘Digital Advisors’ during the DEP included:

Mr Josh McDonald, Ms Kim Trieste-Hastings, Ms Fenella Wilkinson, Mr Greg Alder 

 

Local Government and Regional Leaders attended events included :

Mr Col Murray (Mayor of Tamworth Regional Council) Councillors - Helen Tickle, Mark Rodda, Juanita Wilson

Mr Andrew Hope (Mayor or Liverpool Plains) Mr Owen Hassler (Mayor of Gunnedah)

 

Local Chambers of Commerce

Tamworth Business Chamber (EO, Marjolyn Thomas), Gunnedah Chamber of Commerce (President Anne Luke), Narrabri Chamber of Commerce (President Russell Stewart) Quirindi Chamber of Commerce (President, Lorraine Reiley)

 

At the conclusion of the DEP, Thank You letters were distributed to each supporter and volunteer.

 

New initiatives were formed by group participants including New England North West IQ Initiative and the Global IQ workshops. 

This spawned a new series of Innovation workshops, supported by Regional Development Australia, involving volunteers and participants within the DEP initiative.

LEGACY


At the conclusion of the DEP and New England North West IQ initiatives, a group of businesses, volunteers came together, to discuss the future needs of the region; particularly how to support ongoing 'ideas development' for the region. It was apparent that via the New England North West IQ initiative, many hundreds of ideas were waiting to be unlocked from across the region.

 

An association was formed, incorporating a board of directors, to assist continue the work that the community led initiatives had founded.

The association determined to continue to support ideas development, implementation and support. The Regional IQ initiative was born, supported by Digital IQ.

The future


Regional IQ will continue to pursue opportunities to develop and deliver projects within regional areas, that support economic development and community needs.  Digital technologies are constantly and continually evolving. Where ever there is change, challenges arise, representing either issues or opportunities. Digital IQ will seek to identify opportunities to address needs within the community (for example avoid digital exclusion), provide proactive information and advices to encourage economic development (for example develop digital capacity) and proactively seek ways to support new business creation.