Free Council WiFi is now available at public hotspots across the Ararat township.

Council's free public WiFi aims to bring the community and visitors together and enable people to stay connected inthe public spaces in Ararat and surrounds.

Thanks to a $1.56 million grant from the Victorian Government, Ararat Rural City Council have worked with Telstra on the co-design of the rollout which provides public access to a next generation (WiFi 6 enabled) free WiFi service at key economic, tourism, recreation and cultural precincts. These locations include:

  • Ararat Retail Precinct - Barkly Street, from Queen Street to Ligar Street
  • Ararat Town Hall, Performing Arts Centre, Ararat Gallery TAMA and the Ararat Visitor Information Centre
  • Soldiers Memorial Park
  • Ararat Railway Station and Bus Interchange
  • Alexandra Gardens, Ararat Active Corridor, including Ararat Skate Park, Ararat Dog Park, and the Basketball Half-Court
  • Alexandra Oval Community Centre and Sporting Precinct
  • Gordon Street Recreation Reserve
  • Ararat Jobs and Technology Precinct, Laby Street
  • Kmart Carpark
  • Ararat Library
  • Langi Morgala Museum
  • Ararat Fitness Centre
  • Alexandra Hall
  • Gum San Museum

The following locations in the township of Lake Bolac will also receive free WiFi coverage, expected to be available at the end of January.

  • Lake Bolac Information and Business Centre
  • Lake Bolac Complex
  • Lake Bolac Recreation Reserve
  • Lake Bolac Foreshore, Eel Festival Event Space.

This project is leading the way globally in providing public connectivity, utilising Wi-Fi 6 enabled infrastructure – the next generation of Wi-Fi that brings faster speeds and less network congestion. In an Australian first, Ararat will also benefit from an open-roaming trial that will allow users to securely connect to Wi-Fi and seamlessly switch between mobile and WiFi networks. A key outcome of the trial is facilitating secure student connectivity across the Wi-Fi network.

Both these initiatives will make the network more resilient in times of emergencies, ensuring people can make phone calls and access internet when they need to most.

The partnership with Telstra also includes enhanced fibre connectivity, which will give Ararat Council access to ‘smart city’ technology. Smart cities use the Internet of Things to manage resources and services more efficiently. As part of this project Council and Telstra are trialling smart IoT technologies like real-time environment and traffic monitoring, waste management and CCTV.

Staying safe online

No public WiFi is totally secure. Here are some ways to stay safe when accessing any free public WiFi network.

  • If your WiFi connection isn’t encrypted, others using WiFi in your area may be able to monitor information passing between your device and the network.
  • Avoid sensitive transactions like banking
  • Maintain anti-virus protection
  • Install a trusted VPN app
  • Keep software updated
  • Have strong passwords

Resources to help you stay safe online

eSmart: educational tools to tackle bullying and cyberbullying

eSafety website: information on how to protect children if they experience cyber bullying or prohibited online content

Kids Helpline: children, teens and young adults aged 5–25 can access free and confidential online and phone counselling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 551 800

iParent: guidance for using safety settings on your family's web-connected devices

Stay Smart Online: help to understand risks and simple steps to protect your personal and financial information online

Make a complaint about cyber safety

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has useful information on how to stay safe online. They can help with:

  • public complaints
  • cyber safety information.

The authority also completes:

  • cyber safety research
  • information awareness campaigns and activities
  • education materials for use in schools.