December 5, 2020

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Australian Digital Inclusion Index measures citizen’s online participation

The Centre for Social Impact Swinburne is one of two university partners to develop and produce the Australian Digital Inclusion Index.

According to a recent press release, findings from the fourth Australian Digital Inclusion Index show that affordability is a key barrier for improving digital participation in Australia.

The Australian Digital Inclusion Index measures the online participation of Australians through three measures. These are access, affordability and digital ability.

It looks at trends across demographics including age, geography, socio-economics, people with a disability and Indigenous Australians.

The Centre for Social Impact Swinburne and RMIT University’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre developed and produced the Index in partnership with a telecommunications company and a marketing research company.

Affordability is a key barrier for digital inclusion

While digital ability and access to services has improved on the previous year, the affordability gap between high and low income households remains.

The Director of the Centre explained that more is needed than just having access to cheaper services.

Until household incomes at the lower end improve, the notion of affordability of digital services remains out of reach for so many people in Australia.

Until this happens, it is expected that the affordability gap will only worsen over time.

The telecommunications company’s Group Executive Legal and Corporate Affairs shared how digital inclusion is more important than ever because more and more services are being digitised.

Technology and connectivity are an essential part of staying in touch.

There are still 800,000 Australians who do not have an email address; 1.3 million households not yet connected to the Internet, and one in 10 who do not own a smart phone.

The Lead Researcher from RMIT University explained that digital inclusion is a complex and persistent problem.

The Index provides a vital evidence base, which can help in developing positive strategies to ensure that all Australians can gain the benefits of the digital economy.

Other key findings of the 2019 Australian Digital Inclusion Index

  1. South Australia recorded the largest improvement in overall digital inclusion.
  2. In general, Australians with low levels of income, education, and employment are significantly less digitally included.
  3. The gap between the most digitally included age group, or people aged 25-34 years, and the least digitally included age group, or people aged 65+, narrowed for the first time since 2014.
  4. Supplementary survey research suggests digital inclusion for Indigenous Australians diminishes with remoteness, particularly with regard to access and affordability.
  5. The Index reveals substantial differences between Australians living in rural and urban areas.
  6. More than four million Australians access the internet solely through a mobile connection, often linked with socio economic factors including low income, unemployment and low levels of education.