The Federal Government’s Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) program has been successfully rolled out across key Queensland evacuation centres, providing evacuees with free access to community Wi-Fi during natural disasters.                                       

The Sky Muster satellite services will help ensure communities can remain connected when land-based communications networks are damaged or offline.

The $37.1 million STAND program was established in response to the devastating 2019-20 bushfires and has seen the successful rollout of NBN Co Sky Muster satellite services at 62 evacuation centres across much of Queensland, in local government areas such as Moreton Bay Regional, Gold Coast City, Scenic Rim Regional, Toowoomba Regional, and Rockhampton Regional.

Queensland Minister for Community and Housing and Digital Economy, Leeanne Enoch, said the program is crucial for Queenslanders seeking shelter in emergency evacuation facilities during a natural disaster.

“Access to satellite-based internet services allowing fast and reliable access to social media to contact friends and family as well as insurance companies and government services is crucial when other telecommunication networks may be affected during a disaster,” Ms Enoch said.

STAND-funded assets have proven to be effective in supporting local communities during natural disasters, including the 2022 East Coast Floods, the December 2021 and January 2022 Western Australia bushfires, Cyclone Seroja, the June 2021 Victorian and Ingham, Queensland floods.

Critical to the success of the STAND program has been the close engagement and cooperation between the Federal Government, Queensland Government, NBN Co, and local governments across Queensland to identify suitable locations for a Sky Muster satellite service that will best meet the needs of local communities during natural disasters such as bushfires, floods and cyclones.

The Federal Government’s Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia funded through the October Budget commits a further $100 million towards communications resilience, including funding an expanded version of the successful STAND program.

The $50 million Telecommunications Resilience Disaster Innovation Program (TRDI) will support and accelerate the development and deployment of new, innovative technologies and solutions to address known communications issues during natural disasters, including telecommunications power resilience, the need for rapid emergency restoration of services, and increased satellite usage.

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