Supporting digital inclusion and employment growth in Robinvale

When Our Place discovered that families were struggling to learn from home during the first phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, due to a lack of internet connection, the team worked on addressing this.

Improving digital inclusion through partnerships

The Our Place team connected with Australia’s largest almond grower Olam Orchards, which is based in Robinvale, to initiate discussions around the use of their infrastructure towers to improve local digital access for the community.

From these discussions, an innovative approach to addressing a local challenge with multiple beneficiaries was born. Working in partnership with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR), Our Place Robinvale became influential in achieving a partnership between Telstra and Olam Orchards to improve mobile coverage between Wemen and Beverford in Northern Victoria, with the build and connection for this project set to be completed by late 2023.

This partnership with Telstra means that the community (2650 homes and businesses) will receive more stable internet and mobile coverage. These enhancements will also greatly benefit local employers and businesses in the Robinvale and Euston regions are are also expected to assist in seeding further innovations for local agricultural businesses.  

More broadly, this partnership also supports the aim of increasing the digital inclusion of border communities who have been acutely affected by COVID, by ensuring continued online engagement and connection with the broader community.

Supporting the region’s employment growth

Employment opportunities within the Robinvale and Euston regions are forecast to significantly increase over the next 2-3 years with up to 250 skilled positions becoming available. During this same timeframe, a further 540–600 contractor positions are estimated to be needed as 15,000 hectares of almonds, and other permanent plantings reach maturity.

In response to these forecasts, Our Place Robinvale hosted an Industry Forum in December 2021. This forum focused on bringing local employers and services together to work collaboratively and ensure that local services and infrastructure requirements can drive and support this expansion. Another focus of the forum was ensuring that the region could adequately cope with this rapid growth whilst also ensuring all community members, including the most vulnerable members, could benefit from upcoming opportunities.

Since holding the forum, Our Place Robinvale has entered a partnership with Workforce Partners Australia and received a commitment from local employers for 47 entry-level jobs to be available within the region. These positions are promoted by Workforce Partners Australia and Our Place Robinvale, with vacancies beginning to be filled. Maintaining momentum for this collaborative and innovative work will be achieved by the establishment of the Robinvale Euston Workforce Network (REWN), which is currently being established to tackle workforce shortages within the region. 

Aligning with the Our Place Approach

This is one example of how we perform our role as ‘the glue’ to support collaborative and outcome focused partnerships. As Our Place is not a direct provider of services or programs, our expertise is in building long-term relationships and coordinating the engagement, consultation, and data-informed planning that helps drive innovation and targeted service development. For more information about the Our Place Approach, CLICK HERE