One in five Australians, around 4 million people, are not online and not able to take advantage of the education, health and social benefits of being connected. Lack of digital connectivity has negative consequences for people’s social and economic participation, as well as their access to services and information. In a digital age, digital inclusion of the populace is also important to our nation’s economic and social performance.
Digital inclusion is a complex and challenging problem for policy-makers, practitioners, and researchers.
While the digital divide has narrowed, it has deepened, and as the internet increasingly becomes the default medium for communicating, informing and interacting, the disadvantages of being offline increase.
Digital inclusion is not just about computers, the internet or even technology. It is about using online and mobile technologies as channels to improve skills, to enhance quality of life, to drive education and to promote economic wellbeing across all elements of society.
Digital inclusion is fundamentally about social and economic participation.
Access and affordability can present barriers to digital inclusion. However, an individual’s digital engagement is also affected by digital literacy (skills and ability), whether a person can see potential benefits of engagement and motivation and attitude, including concerns about safety and security. The Australian Digital Inclusion Index will be used to measure the extent of digital inclusion in Australia.
Telstra, the Swinburne Institute for Social Research and the Centre for Social Impact have joined forces to develop a new national measure of digital inclusion – the Australian Digital Inclusion Index. This discussion paper sets out our general approach to developing the Index, its objectives and key themes and provides examples of indicators that may form the basis of the index. The paper aims to encourage potential users of the index to provide feedback and suggestions to guide the development of the index to make it as robust and useful as possible.