Victoria commits $626m for digital infrastructure overhaul


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Thursday, 26 November, 2020



Victoria commits $626m for digital infrastructure overhaul

The Victorian Government will invest $626 million to overhaul the state’s digital infrastructure and skills to facilitate post-COVID recovery.

The government has committed $250 million in the latest Budget towards co-funding the deployment of business-grade broadband connectivity for Victorian suburbs and regional towns through the Gigabit State program.

This program will seek to address gaps in the availability of reliable high-speed fibre-optic and wireless broadband services for business users. The project is expected to support around 2000 jobs throughout the construction and operation of the new broadband infrastructure.

In addition, the government will invest $300 million over six years to eradicate mobile blackspots in the more populated areas of regional Victoria, subject to a co-contribution commitment from the federal government’s Mobile Black Spot Program.

In addition, the government will invest $12 million to establish a flagship digital hub in Cremorne to help create jobs, stimulate innovation, and encourage the adoption of new technologies that will benefit Victorians in their daily lives.

Employment-focused initiatives meanwhile include a new $64 million Digital Skills and Jobs program to fund short courses and up to 5000 industry internships to help jobseekers return to work, and a $10.3 million Victorian Innovation and Digital Jobs program.

To support entrepreneurship, the government will invest $60.5 million to establish a new Victorian Startup Capital Fund and $25.7 million over four years for a complementary venture growth fund.

Start-up hub LaunchVic will likewise be provided with $40 million in additional funding over four years, while a new Women’s Angel Sidecar Fund will be funded with $10 million over three years.

Another notable initiative is $155 million towards the establishment of an Australian Institute for Infectious Disease to help prepare for and prevent future pandemics. The project’s proponents will also be seeking federal funding to build the $550 million facility.

“The pandemic has changed the way we work and the way we live, with more of our day-to-day lives happening online. This Budget will help us use and embrace new technology — and make it one of Victoria’s strengths,” Victorian Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford said.

“In securing our recovery, we are playing to our strengths — backing our start-ups, our innovators and the best minds in our medical research sector.”

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has welcomed the funding commitments, noting that they will go a long way towards addressing the ongoing ICT skills gap.

“We are pleased to see the Victorian Government invest significantly to grow digital skills within the workforce,” AIIA CEO Ron Gauci said.

“The changes we have seen, fast-tracked by COVID-19, has demonstrated the need for innovative digital skills and the importance of being able to work remotely. The investments announced today by the Victorian Government positions Victoria on the path to be leaders in the ICT industry.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Tatiana

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