Australia’s digital inclusion rate leaves room for improvement
18 October 2021 at 4:41 pm
With the global pandemic driving more and more of us online, digital inclusion has never been more important
While digital inclusion has improved since 2020, these improvements aren’t being shared evenly across the country, the latest Australian Digital Inclusion Index reveals.
The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) is an annual study led by Telstra, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society at RMIT, and the Centre for Social Impact (CSI), Swinburne.
Through the use of survey data, the annual ADII scores online access, affordability and digital ability out of a total of 100 — the higher the score the greater the level of digital inclusion.
Digital inclusion is based on the premise that everyone should be able to access and make full use of digital technology and the benefit it brings. This includes having the skills and knowledge to use it effectively.
This year, Australia’s national index score was 71.1 — an increase on 2020’s score of 67.5. However, the percentage of Australians still classed as technologically disadvantaged equalled 28 per cent of the population.
2021’s report found that the Australian Capital Territory ranked highest with an index score of 77, while the least digitally inclusive states were South Australia (69) and Tasmania (66).
South Australian Council of Social Services (SACOSS) CEO Ross Womersley said that while it was good to see an improvement in South Australia’s score compared to last year’s rating of 63, it was disappointing the state remained below the national average
“We know from previous years’ indexes that digital exclusion reflects and compounds other social disadvantages,” Womersley said.
“Those with less education, lower incomes, or not in work, are likely to struggle with digital inclusion, and those in regional areas also score lower.”
This year’s report comes at a time when, due to the pandemic, Aussies have been expected to turn their homes into a digital hybrid of school, office, university, cinema and virtual GP surgery.
For the last 18 months, a reliable and affordable internet connection has never been so important.
CSI Swinburne’s director, Professor Jo Barraket, said that the changes to Australians’ daily lives since the emergence of COVID-19 has deepened the digital divide.
“We need more than ever to understand and address the factors that are leaving people and places behind,” she said.
You can find the full report here.