Today the 2019 Australian Digital Inclusion Index report was released. The Australian Digital Inclusion Index is a comprehensive picture of Australians’ online participation through three measures - access, affordability and digital ability. It looks at trends across demographics including age, geography, socio-economics, people with a disability and Indigenous Australians.
In the four years since the benchmark for measuring digital inclusion in Australia was launched, affordability is the area where significant improvements have not been made.
The high-level key findings in the 2019 Index are:
Launching the 2019 Australian Digital Inclusion Index in Shepparton, Telstra Group Executive Legal and Corporate Affairs Carmel Mulhern said as more services are digitised, digital inclusion is more important than ever.
“Technology and connectivity are an essential part of staying in touch and there are still many of our community who are missing out on the vital benefits they need because they can’t connect,” she said.
“There are 800,000 Australians who don’t have an email address, about 1.3 million households not connected to the internet, and one in 10 who don’t have a smartphone.
“Our organisational purpose is to build a connected future so everyone can thrive. The word ‘everyone’ speaks to our core responsibility to help deliver the opportunity connectivity creates.”
Among other findings in the 2019 Index was a deep dive into the digital inclusion of recently-arrived migrants in Shepparton. Shepparton is home to new migrants from countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Iraq and Sub-Saharan Africa. Insights were gleaned into the key challenges this group faces to be digitally included – affordability and low levels of English literacy.
Professor Julian Thomas from RMIT’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre (and Lead researcher) said, “Digital inclusion is a complex and persistent problem. The Index provides a vital evidence base, which can help us develop positive strategies to ensure all Australians gain the benefits of the digital economy.”
Professor Jo Barraket, Director of the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne said, “It’s more than about having access to cheaper services. We know that 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 we can expect the affordability gap to only worsen over time.”
RMIT University’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre and the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University develop and produce the Index in partnership with Telstra and Roy Morgan.
Other key findings of the 2019 Australian Digital Index