"Telstra, get your act together and get into the 21st century! We're not some backward country." Actually we are, if you start comparing internet speeds across countries!
'After four months of having no Internet in our Remote Aboriginal Community, today I was flicking through a QANTAS magazine (as one does) and read a quote from an article that got my ire up: “There’s no such thing as Online, because no-one is Offline”. Well, I’d like to differ.
A hell of a lot of Aboriginal communities in the desert are Off-Line.
Even here in Balgo, in what is Western Australia’s fifth largest Aboriginal community, the entire community has been without even a drop of On-Line for most of the past 4 months - with us living at the Kapululangu Aboriginal Women’s Law and Culture Centre being the worst hit. Even at its best, the Inter-net has been inter-mittent. And at its worst... completely Missing!
It’s been exceedingly frustrating, infuriating, vexing and down-right maddening! As the Internet sank progressively into a quagmire of nothingness I considered some rather melodramatic strategies aimed at rectifying the problem.
Unfortunately, however, I’m a coward so I capitulated to hours of sitting on the phone pleading with Telstra - and you all know how damaging that is to one’s mental and spiritual health!
When I first rang Telstra they couldn’t find us. “What’s your address?”
“Lot 174, Balgo, Halls Creek, WA.”
“There’s no such place.”
“There’s got to be I’m sitting here talking to you.”
“Sorry but we have no record of that address.”
“Well, we’ve had a landline and BigPond on here - several years back - but you had an address for us then and you must still have one today.”
“Oh, here’s an address. Are you at ‘Community House, Tanami’?”
“No! That’s hardly an address! The Tanami is a massive desert covering thousands of kilometres, and besides there are so many communities in the Tanami that there must be lots of ‘Community Houses’ there. Anyway, we’re not in the Tanami. We’re in the Great Sandy Desert.”
“Can you try to get us another address?”
“How can I get you another address when where we are is where we are?”
The conversation went on like this for about two hours before my friend female receptionist decided she would consult Telstra’s technical staff.
When she kindly rang me back the next day I was ready for her…
“Our technical staff can’t find you.”
“Of course they can’t if they are looking for us in the Tanami Desert - it’s humungous! Can I give you the coordinates?”
And so I rattled off our global position… so many degrees South and so many East… while she wrote them down dutifully. I’d used the GPS on our Satellite Phone to locate our position - so now I know exactly where the Women’s Law Ground is … and this small piece of information ensured that I couldn’t be fooled into believing that I wasn’t where I was.
By this time Liz, My Friendly Helper, was fully committed to finding out just exactly where I was (/am) and went off to discuss with her supervisor once again. This whole saga of trying to find an address so that the internet problem can be rectified has been going on for a week now so full credit to Liz for her perseverance.
Today, Liz rang me up again. “I have an ID Address for you,” she announced with a somewhat muted attempt at encouragement.
“It’s an address we give you when we can’t give you an address.”
“What’s the point of that?”
“It’ll let us know who we are talking to when you ring up next time.”
“But I don’t want to ring up again. I want the internet service fixed - not only for us here at the Women’s Centre but for all of the people and the agencies in Balgo. How are we supposed to run our organisations to look after our residents if we can’t access the internet?"
I continued, "It’s 2015! And this is Australia. There are only a few cities on this continent … most of Australia is remote or Very Remote and we want the same services available to us as people living in the cities take for granted. Look, Telstra has a monopoly here. It’s not like we can just go and get another company to give us internet!”
Liz pleaded with me to take down the numbered ID but she also agreed to talk with her supervisor again. We agreed that she’d ring me back “tomorrow”.
But I insisted, “Tomorrow I want to speak to your supervisor’s supervisor. Telstra has provided a service here in the past. And they are the only company providing an internet service in Balgo right now - except that right now it isn’t working. You must have a way of working out how to fix it.”
“Yes, but we haven’t got an address for you!”
“So the first thing Telstra has to do is to find out where we are. I mean they have their workers coming in here every couple-of-months so someone must know where we actually are!”
We’ve left the conversation go at that today. But I do expect to hear from Liz again tomorrow when she wants me to talk with the Moving-Home-Team. I wonder whether they can decipher where we are!
Anyway somehow the internet problem has rectified itself - sort of! I mean, the internet here is still extremely spasmodic and untrustworthy, and endeavouring to use it is a treacherous undertaking.
But at least tonight I can write this post in the hope that somehow the internet will engage and my correspondence will upload and that you my dear friends will soon be reading it.
In the meantime I’d like to thank my long-time bestest friend Chris Henderson for coming to Kapululangu’s aid and posting and messaging for us over the past month or so when the internet has been most conspicuous by its complete absence. Some of you have already been talking with her over this past very-long month.
And so in the spirit of gratitude I would like to say “Yati Minyirri (Many Thanks)” to Chris by encouraging all of you who are living in and around Brisbane to attend her wonderful “Howling at the Moon” night … (We loves ya Chris! We loves what ya does!)
Chris Henderson is inviting you to Chris Henderson Coaching's event...
Create a Clearing for Your Magnificence
29 August at 18:00 in UTC+10
The 3 Bowls Cafe, 43 Gloucester St, Highgate Hill, Brisbane
These magnificent events are held every Full Moon (Paltja Yakarn). In fact, some of you will remember that I was the Star-Attraction (she says not so humbly) back in March.
This month (August 2015) Chris will be strutting her stuff as a full-on Courage Catalyst fully committed to a world where all women live to their fullest potential. I can guarantee that spending one night - this Saturday - will be a worthwhile place to put your energy. You might even find the community of like-spirited women who are out there to change the world!
Many thanks everyone. It’s so good to be home again among all our FaceBooker Marlpa (Friends) and Walytja (Family)!
Telstra-willing, I’ll be back here soon with another story about life at Kapululangu.
Phew, here's hoping this posts.
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