Victoria’s 2020-21 budget has set out $626 million over the next six years for regional digital infrastructure upgrades and technology job reskilling.
Falling under its Digital Future Now initiative, $96.3 million is planned to be spent this financial year alone.
This is set to be followed with $249.4 million in 2021-22, $123.9 million in 2022-23, $56.3 million in 2023-24 and then two lots of $50 million in 2024-25 and 2025-26.
Headlining the spend at $300 million is the removal of mobile blackspots across regional Victoria in a move the government claims is "supporting local businesses, local economies and local communities," according to the budget documents.
However, this amount is dependent on a co-contribution by the Commonwealth, as it has the responsibility for Australia’s telecommunications network.
Also in partnership with the Commonwealth is $250 million in co-funding for business-grade broadband connectivity for Victorian suburbs and regional towns through the state’s Gigabit State program.
“Gigabit State will address gaps in the availability of reliable high‑speed fibre optic and wireless broadband services for business users — helping them find new customers and new markets," the budget documents noted.
“This includes upgrades in regional towns with satellite and fixed wireless services — giving them access to broadband.
“It will also provide more opportunity for Victorians, with the construction and operation of this new broadband infrastructure to support nearly 2,000 jobs.”
The state is also looking at digital reskilling opportunities with $64 million going towards the Digital Skills and Jobs Program, which is aimed at providing 5,000 unemployed workers with digital skills training or a digital internship.
The budget documents claimed this program is also planned to have “a strong focus on supporting women”.
Additionally, the Digital Future Now spend also includes $12 million in funding towards a flagship digital hub in Cremorne for the delivery of digital short courses and industry internships.