On the land and online with Star of Hope’s Zarah

3-minute read
Three years after visiting Zarah and her family on their remote cattle station in central Queensland, we discover how connectivity is still helping now she’s at boarding school.

Access to fast broadband via services over the secure nbn™ network is making a real difference to people’s lives.

Particularly when it comes to increasing educational opportunities for those living in rural and remote parts of the nation.

Just ask the Moller family.

Home base for Zarah, her parents Alana and Scott, and her two sisters, Addison and Mykenzie, is the sprawling Star of Hope cattle station, a long, dusty drive west of Clermont in central Queensland.

With the nearest school hours away, the three sisters have grown up relying on a combination of home tutoring from their schoolteacher-trained mum and access to the renowned School of the Air distance education program.

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When last we visited…

In 2018, nbn visited the Mollers on their vast, isolated property, not long after the family connected to nbn’s Sky Muster™ satellite service, a game-changing development that, for the first time, allowed the two youngest siblings to visually connect and interact with teachers and classmates online.

The visit resulted in a much-loved video, which captured the essence of life on the land in a remote part of Australia that had been enhanced by the power of connectivity.

Then 12 years old, Zarah encapsulated on camera the way many geographically isolated families feel about their remote lifestyle and the place they choose to call home.

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Zarah during our visit in 2018

“It’s not just a property in the middle of nowhere,” said Zarah.

“It’s my home in the middle of nowhere.”

She also recounted the difference connection to services over the nbn™ network had made to her, from the ability to learn guitar and study Spanish online, to seeing the smiling faces of her school classmates on screen.

Zarah today

Three years on and now aged 14, Zarah has followed in the footsteps of her big sister Mykenzie by heading off to boarding school in Townsville.

Gavin Williams, Chief Development Officer – Regional and Remote at nbn, recently caught up with Zarah via a video call to her boarding school to discover how she’s enjoying studying face-to-face and making new friends, as well as the role connectivity continues to play in her life – particularly to keep in touch with her family hundreds of kilometres away.

Committed to all students

As part of nbn’s commitment to lifting the digital capability of Australia, we’re working hard to help enable equitable education opportunities and outcomes for students, like Zarah, no matter where they live.

Access to fast broadband represents a significant opportunity to overcome barriers to learning for students in regional and remote areas, particularly as education undergoes a transformational evolution online.

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Alana Moller and Zarah on their cattle farm, Star of Hope, in 2018

Enabling access to educational opportunity not only drives Alana Moller as the mother of three geographically isolated daughters, but in her role as Federal President of the Isolated Children’s and Parents Association (ICPA).

She agrees Zarah is not only a great example of a young person bringing to life the digital potential of Australia, but a living embodiment of everything the ICPA strives so hard to achieve.

“We know distance education for geographically isolated families is challenging but hope that sharing these kinds of stories will promote a better understanding of what they actually go through on the ground.”

Then and now

Alana says, while having her daughter so far from home has been hard, she is thriving in her new environment and feels thankful they can still connect with each other online.

“In the past, when children were sent off to boarding school, it was, ‘See you in ten weeks’ time’. Connectivity really does make a huge difference.”

As does fostering a close collaborative relationship between stakeholder organisations, such as nbn and the ICPA, who have played a leading role in the drive to improve access to the latest telecommunications technologies for isolated families.

nbn works closely with the ICPA to help shape and inform the development of new products and services designed to best meet the needs of Australians living in isolated parts of the nation.

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Alana Moller with her daughter Zarah

In turn, the ICPA shares relevant nbn information with those same families who can benefit most from the enormous power of digital connectivity.

“Our families are the eyes and ears on the ground when it comes to experiencing what it’s really like living in geographically isolated areas,” says Alana.

“We will never stop advocating and telling the stories of our isolated children and parents, which is why we appreciate having a voice with organisations, such as nbn, because we can share that experience.”