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CSI research: Digital inclusion is growing

2 min read

The release of the first Australian Digital Inclusion Index shows that while digital inclusion is improving, digital ability – which includes basic online skills –  it is emerging as a key barrier for some people to connect and maximise the benefits of online participation.

The research has been undertaken by the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology, in partnership with Telstra and Roy Morgan Research. The Index provides a detailed snapshot yet of online participation throughout Australia.

Telstra’s Chief Sustainability Officer Tim O’Leary said that with a fast growing number of services moving exclusively online, no Australian should get left behind.

“We commissioned this research because digital inclusion is a social justice issue facing policy makers, businesses and communities worldwide. The index provides vital data to drive not just our own digital inclusion strategies – but those of our community and government partners,” said O’Leary.

Digital inclusion is said to be about ensuring everyone is able to access and use digital technologies, and to take advantage of the educational, health, social and financial benefits of being connected.

The Index contains data from the last three years, measuring digital inclusion by examining three areas: access, affordability and digital ability.

Key findings of the Index include:

  • Across the nation, digital inclusion follows some clear economic and social contours. In general, Australians with low levels of income, education and employment are significantly less digitally included.
  • Affordability results show that while the value of online services is improving, people are spending an increasing proportion of household income on digital products.
  • Geographical disparities exist across Australia, with some areas showing higher digital inclusion than others, including capital cities.

Professor Jo Barraket, Director of the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology, said the index sets an important foundation measurement for digital inclusion in Australia.

“The Australian Digital Inclusion Index is a powerful tool that will help us understand the drivers of digital inclusion and exclusion in Australia. Overall, the Index shows that digital inclusion is growing in Australia – however inclusion is uneven and there are many Australians who are missing out on the social, health and financial benefits of being online,” Barraket said.

“For example, the Index reveals that infrastructure alone doesn’t necessarily equal access and inclusion. Digital ability – which includes online skills, attitudes and knowledge – is emerging as a key impediment to inclusion. This is particularly true for some groups, including people with disabilities, and those on low incomes.

“This data source will now provide more information for the public, private and community sectors to better inform strategies and programs working to improve digital inclusion in Australia. It is a longitudinal resource, which allows us to collectively reflect on our progress over time.”

The index is based on data from Roy Morgan Research, obtained from their ongoing, weekly single source survey of 50,000 Australians.


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