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

Digital IQ supports digital connectivity & innovation within regional areas.  As a community-focused initiative, Digital IQ provides access to local area expertise, advice & information within the community. 


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


Initiatives we work on encourage & support digital inclusiveness; so that all community members can benefit from digital & internet technologies. 


Digital IQ is adept at delivering training & digital program models incorporating regional 'face-to-face' engagement. A key point of differentiation for Digital IQ is a focus upon mobile, agile and tailored support. 


Our foundation philosophy - "To make good things happen in the regions, you need good people in the region - people with the right attitude,  knowledge & skills on the ground, serving the needs of communities, groups & individuals."


We are fiercely independent. We understand deeply the importance of impartial, trusted and transparent advice, for individuals and communities. People who place their trust in us, we serve with loyalty, ingenuity, good humour and mateship.



Digital IQ can trace its origins to early 2011 when community members within the Tamworth & Liverpool Plains began exploring opportunities connected to higher-speed broadband internet & related technologies.


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


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


The program was named 'Tamworth & Liverpool Plains Digital Enterprise Program' (DEP), providing digital support to small businesses & 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 & local government councils providing in-kind support. The program manager for the DEP project maintained a detailed record of time & contributions received from the community.


The DEP was launched in Tamworth in 2012, involving The McGrath Foundation (Guest speaker, the then CEO - Kylea Tink), local area country music performer (Alyce Simmonds) & others who donated their time to support the event.


Many community members came together to celebrate the launch of the DEP initiative & to support the event. The venue for the launch event was donated (via Wests Group) & local area businesses, including Danny's the Jewellers and Tamworth Community College, donated time, prizes & resources to the launch.


Small donations were contributed by participants at the launch event towards assisting in establishing additional 'Breast Care Nurses' within the New England North West region. (*a significant % of McGrath Foundation 'Breast Care Nurses' are positioned within regional & rural communities across Australia, a legacy that continues to the present)


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



The DEP provided support to the community ring Oct 2012 to late Oct 2014, including delivering over 75 training workshops involving 1,000+ participants. 


A key outcome was assisting business & NFP community groups in developing & implement digital strategies, e.g., setting up websites, e-commerce, social media & connectivity tools. Over 300 entities implemented new digital approaches during the project. 


Requests to facilitate DEP events were received from individuals and community groups from surrounding townships, including Gunnedah, Narrabri, Moree, Glen Innes, Armidale & Tenterfield. Materials & training were provided at no cost to these communities, as supporters, including volunteer advisors & facilitators, contributed time & expertise pro bono to the initiative. The DEP delivered an additional 30+ digital development workshops across the region involving 1,000+ participants.  

Other digital-type programs provided around the region concluded & were finalized. Participants within these completed programs reached out to connect towards gaining potential additional support via online resources. 

The DEP program was a fantastic success, with over 5,000+ participants engaging with the program from across the region. Testimony to community enthusiasm for digital innovation and empowering digital futures. 


Volunteers, Guest Speakers & Community Leaders

The success of the DEP & the ongoing Digital IQ legacy initiative would not have been possible, without the many volunteers, guest speakers & community leaders that contributed & 'put back' into the community. 


‘Guest Speakers’ who contributed volunteer time & expertise to the project included:


Mrs Angela Lavender (The Present Cupboard, Country Culture) 

Ms Kylea Tink (the then CEO, McGrath Foundation)

Mr Mark Morton (the then 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) 


Trainers & training support was provided via Tamworth Community College including :


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

The college also supported the launch event & was attended by Mrs Michelle Simpson (EO) & team.  


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 who attended events included :

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

Mr Andrew Hope (Mayor or Liverpool Plains)

Mr Owen Hassler (the then Mayor of Gunnedah)


Local Chambers of Commerce

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


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


New initiatives were formed by group participants including New England North West IQ Initiative (NewIQ) & the Global IQ workshops.  This spawned a new series of Innovation workshops, supported by Regional Development Australia - Northern Inland involving volunteers and participants within the DEP initiative.



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 (NewIQ), 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; focusing on key initiative areas :-


#1 - Digital Economy - eCommerce

#2 - Bilateral Trade Development - Bridge 

#3 - Entrepreneurship - Agri and food business Focus 

#4 - Unlocking Innovation - Regional Investment 

#5 – Tourism & Cultural Exchange


Meetings were conducted around the region towards establishing a startup incubator, export capability & international engagement. It was apparent there was need to form an association, with strong governance & an even stronger focus on the needs of regional communities.  The vision created by the founder has subsequently grown to develop many opportunities for the regions.   


The New England North West region is constantly evolving, and so are the needs of the communities. As a result of continual research and board monitored activities, new directions that can benefit the region are constantly being pursued. 


The Digital IQ initiative, along with all individuals associated with its projects, maintains a strictly apolitical stance, endeavoring to foster positive relationships across the entire spectrum of political ideologies. Our dedication lies in serving individuals, community groups, and the nation at large. We are committed to establishing effective communication channels with all stakeholders, understanding that this may entail a modest financial contribution to ensure the strength and efficiency of our ecosystem's communications. We welcome the opportunity to engage in discussions regarding the needs of individuals and community groups with representatives from all levels of government—local, state, and federal—as part of a comprehensive ecosystem of support.


The future

Digital technologies are constantly & 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 & advice to encourage economic development (for example develop digital capacity) & proactively seek ways to support the community we call home.


The Regional IQ initiative was developed & launched - see - in response to new directions.


Regional IQ will continue to pursue opportunities to develop & deliver projects within regional areas, that support economic development & community needs. 


Focusing on key initiative involving connectivity to sustain communities:-



#1 - Digital Inclusion

#2 - Digital Heritage, Heritage

#3 - Digital Communities


Social Enterprise

#1 - Digital Smart - safety, security, innovation

#2 - Regional Development - new community innovation for the future

#3 - Social Enterprise - Agile, Mobile, Connectedness 

#4 - Unlocking Innovation - Regional 

#5 – Social Tourism - Expand social, community tourism