Mapping the Digital Gap in Erub
24 June 2021
Jen Enosa, Senior Broadcaster, TSIMA
Lala Gutchen, Co-researcher, TSIMA
Nixon Mye, Co-researcher, TSIMA
Dr Daniel Featherstone, Senior Research Fellow, RMIT University
Watch the recording
Duration: 0:05:51


Jen: When it comes to dealing with the digital age in everything, in all aspects of our lives these days, even though the technology has come, there’s still gaps that need to be identified. My name is Jen Enosa, and my role at TSIMA is senior broadcaster, it’s also looking after RIBS in some of the communities that are operating at the moment.

Daniel: So how is communications different on the Torres Strait to the rest of the country?

Jen: Patchy. It’s on here. It’s off over there. It’s vague. For places like the remote communities,that’s where it’s most needed. And why can’t we have the same, you know, speed of Internet service when you you know, rather than you wait for the neverending wheel to go around and round while you wait there and twiddle your thumbs, until it comes back on, or you lose the connection, or the power goes off.

Nixon: Ladies first.

Lala: Hello, my name is Lala Gutchen. I am from Erub, I am from the Meriam Tribe.

Nixon: Hi my name is Nixon Mye. I’m from Erub also I’m also from the Meriam tribe. Me and Lala had the opportunity to be a part of this Mapping the Digital Gap research team from the RMIT university, and we’ve been collecting data

Lala: To understand how they use mobile phones and other media, such as laptops and stuff too. And to do with the connectivity around here. Nixon: I believe it’s a good thing to have locals helping on the team just to help our local families and people to understand because some of us we don’t understand written English or spoken English as well as others. So me and Lala, we understand enough to be able to break it down for our own people. Lala: Yeah, me and Nixon are very – like, we talk to everyone, so all ages were comfortable enough to do the survey with us. Everyone was targeting, you know, we want better connectivity up here because of we live in the sea country area. Most of our people, you know, out on the dinghies, on the reef and, you know, working out there. We want that, you know, to be better, for safety purposes.

So that was one the things that stand out, and also for the others that are trying to get into, you know, business and stuff, they want better Internet up here.

Nixon: Just like Lala said, we are seafarers out here and even though we’ve come a long way, with actually having reception now in some parts of the island better than before where we used to be like the Statue of Liberty, holding up our phones just to send a text message.

Jen: When you look at the community, people that you know that are doing this for daily their job, it’s their livelihood, it’s their children’s education, you know, parents are, fathers are out there.The brothers are out, the uncles are out there. Women are out there as well, doing, you know, fishing for support their families. And when the mobile tower is not working from their community, they rely on the signal from their neighbouring island. So it becomes a risk.

Daniel: Just to wrap up, what would you like to see possible for good communications across the Torres Strait? Torres Strait is, you know, we’re saltwater country. There’s always need for upgrading infrastructure because we get corrosion from salt here, which is something that we face every time, you know, you put a, put something in place and salt here get to it. But I think the other thing would be in the community, a hub to service these sort of technical things so that we’re not sourcing services from outside. You know, we should have that capacity here.

When you look across the different sectors of the community, you get your older generation that needs to learn, that needs to be empowered, that needs to be educated. And then you’ve got the younger ones that we want to see, you know, employment being created to give people opportunities to have the same quality of life, what people in the rest of the cities, in the rest of the country enjoy and take for granted. At the end of the day, we are all Australians.

Nixon: I personally myself, I enjoyed this last week here working with you guys.

Lala: It was a great opportunity for me. It was like a first time for me to, you know, do stuff like this that will benefit our community one day. So it was really good to work with Nixon, my cousin.

Jen: Well, I’ll be more than happy to join the team again to get out to the community because I think it, it’s really important for all of us to be helping regions like Torres Strait.