Switching on the remote: a new perspective on accessibility in remote Australia
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In remote Australia, access to people, goods, services, information and places is difficult because of extreme distances and climates, sparse population, remoteness from markets, and complex economic and socio-cultural dynamics. Most of remote Australia remains disconnected from both the digital revolution and the national transport network due to a lack of adequate infrastructure, affordable and reliable services, and, for most, poor digital literacy. This impedes service delivery including education and health services, economic development and wellbeing of remote residents; contributing to inequalities between remote and non-remote Australians. Whilst the concept of accessibility in transport and telecommunication goods and services is relatively well defined in an urban context and can be measured accordingly, the way accessibility is currently measured fails to capture the complexity of the remote Australian context. The article discusses some of the current knowledge gaps associated with studying accessibility levels in remote Australia with a particular focus on Central Australia. The article presents indicators and tools which could be used to evaluate access issues with practical applications for remote Australia. Developing an accessibility index for remote areas would enable the reconsideration of minimal requirements for sustainable livelihoods in remote areas and the development of effective and appropriate regional development policies and initiatives.