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

Digital IQ is supporting 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 community (individuals), businesses (including start-ups) and community groups (Non Profits) based within regional areas. 


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


Digital IQ is adapt at delivering training & digital program models incorporating regional 'face to face' engagement. A key point of differentiation for Digital IQ is capacity for regional mobility.



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, within the regions, serving the needs of the region"


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 & related technologies.


Visionary community leaders could see opportunities to explore new business models & modes of service delivery, that could tackle the tyranny of distance, provide new forms of community services, health innovations & 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 & work commenced on the development of local area training materials, training 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 development 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. A record of time & contributions received from the community was kept.


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 & to support the event.  The venue for the launch event was donated (via Wests Group) & 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 & 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 during Oct 2012 to late Oct 2014 including delivery of over 75 training workshops involving 1,000+ participants.


A key outcome was assisting business & NFP community groups, develop & implement 'digital strategies' including setting up websites, ecommerce, social media & 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 & training were provided at no cost to these communities, as supporters including volunteer advisors and facilitators contributed time & expertise pro bono to the initiative. An additional 30+ digital development workshops were delivered across the region involving an additional 1,000+ participants.  


Other digital type programs provided around the region concluded & 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 program schedule well over 3,500+ connections were engaged with the initiative from across the region. 


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 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 (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) and 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) Councillors - 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 and volunteer.


New initiatives were formed by group participants including New England North West IQ Initiative  (NewIQ) and 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 and international engagement.


It was apparent there was need to form an association, with strong governance & an even stronger focus on the needs of the New England North West community.  The Regional IQ initiative was developed & launched 


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

The future

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