Disparities between rural and metropolitan areas in the provision of essential services to Australian citizens, in health, education, employment and technology, have the potential to undermine national cohesion. Professionals working in rural and remote areas of Australia often feel isolated and unsupported, and little research attention has been given to determining effective ways to retain their professional services in rural Australia. The innovative use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to deliver online support, professional development and resources could help to remove a sense of professional isolation, and have a positive effect on professionals’ morale, reduce attrition, and decrease government costs in the provision of services. Retaining able and experienced professionals in rural areas should help provide long term benefits to the rural economy. This study considers the extent and nature of professional isolation in rural and remote regions of Australia (specifically Queensland and Western Australia) and examines professionals’ use of the internet to support their professional development needs. It draws upon survey and interview data from 10 professions, and makes conclusions and recommendations based on the views and experiences of over 1200 respondents. This project was funded from RIRDC Core Funds which are provided by the Australian Government.
This report was originally published as Herrington, AJ, & Herrington, JA, Effective use of the internet: Keeping professionals working in rural Australia, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Kingston ACT, 2006, 105.