Advances in technologies have revolutionised the way Australians live, work and interact with each other. For the majority of Australians, technology supports how we:
- communicate and socialise
- teach and learn
- recruit staff and look for work
- do our jobs.
However for lower income earners, those with poor access to the internet, or those who lack the skills to use technology, these opportunities are harder to access. ABS data have shown that Indigenous households are about 75 per cent more likely than non-Indigenous households to not have an internet connection. Indigenous Australians face additional barriers around skills, affordability and access to culturally appropriate technology. Even in urban areas, where access to the internet is higher, measures of digital inclusion are lower than the Australian average.
Groups that only access the internet through mobile phones have lower levels of digital inclusion, due to higher costs of accessing data through this means. The greater prevalence of mobile-only connectivity among Indigenous Australians contributes to the lower digital inclusion score for this group.
Exclusion from the digital world can exacerbate other forms of social exclusion such as unemployment, low education and poverty.
All Australians need access to the technologies and the skills required to use them if they’re to fully take part in social and economic life. Digital inclusion has the potential to support and improve the quality of life for some of the most disadvantaged and excluded in our community.
Governments, business and the community all have important roles to play to address the digital divide.
“We want to see every Australian benefit in our shared digital future – that means enabling every member of the community to take part, and designing engagement processes and interfaces to the digital world that take account of the different life stages and levels of digital ability.”