Two worlds collide

Residents who live in the Hills, so close to Adelaide, often say they enjoy the best of both worlds, with the beauty of the countryside and the convenience of the city.
Unfortunately, sometimes they are disadvantaged by both worlds.
A good example is communication.
The Hills is a patchwork region of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ when it comes to mail delivery, mobile telephone reception, accessible, affordable internet access and even digital television reception.
Some of that is due to geography but much of it is due to ageing infrastructure and business dynamics which has decided that some communities are just not worth the bother.
Some towns have home mail delivery.
Many more communities do not, which is a problem when post box agencies close down.
Upper Sturt had to find a new home for its post boxes late last year and Summertown lost its postal service early this year with residents’ boxes moving to Uraidla.
Now the Wistow community is facing the same dilemma with its general store closing at the end of the month.
Moves are now afoot to try and shift the boxes to the town hall across the road, under a new contractor.
The Hills can expect more changes to its mail services as Australia Post grapples with finding a viable business model at the same time that a Senate Committee inquiry has called for a review of its community service obligations.
That review could be a concern for communities who do not have access to reliable and affordable internet.
It’s one thing to argue that everyone pays bills online nowadays and it’s another to ensure that people can.
Some residents cannot access the internet at all because providers refuse to upgrade networks where they live or the service they have is so unreliable  it is useless.
Others who have wireless services are on plans that are so restrictive in terms of data and expensive that they end up paying almost $250 a month for something that would cost a similar household in the city only $60.
And in all this it should not be forgotten that there is a significant section of the community still alive and kicking that never grew up with the internet, and has no plans to go online any time soon.