This special report enables us to explore the unique challenges for digital inclusion in Queensland. Queenslanders and other Australians go online to access a growing range of education, information, government, and community services. Increasingly, they also participate in online communities and create digital content. But some Queenslanders are missing out on the benefits of connection. Digital inclusion is based on the premise that everyone should be able to make full use of digital technologies – to manage their health and wellbeing, access education and services, organise their finances, and connect with friends, family, and the world beyond.
The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) was first published in 2016, providing the most comprehensive picture of Australia’s online participation to date. The ADII measures three vital dimensions of digital inclusion: Access, Affordability, and Digital Ability. It shows how these dimensions change over time, according to people’s social and economic circumstances, as well as across geographic locations. Scores are allocated to particular geographic regions and sociodemographic groups, over a four-year period (2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017). Higher scores mean greater digital inclusion.
Digital inclusion in Queensland has improved moderately in 2017 to reach 55.3. However, Queensland’s results lag behind the gains made in many other states and territories, with a widening gap between Queensland and New South Wales and Victoria. The state ranks sixth out of the eight states and territories and is positioned slightly below the national average of 56.5.
Queenslanders’ uptake of new digital technologies, coupled with an increase in internet data allowances, has led to gains in 2017 across the three sub-indices: Access, Affordability, and Digital Ability. From 2014 to 2017 the state’s Access score increased from 62.1 to 69.0, while Digital Ability increased from 42.7 to 45.3. However, Queensland’s Affordability score has fluctuated over the four years, declining between 2014 and 2016, before making a slight recovery to reach its current level of 51.6.
There are significant differences between rural and urban areas in Queensland when it comes to digital inclusion. The ADII score for rural Queenslanders in 2017 is 51.7, compared with 56.8 for people living in the state capital Brisbane (a ‘Capital-Country gap’ of 5.1 points).
Indigenous people living in Queensland recorded an ADII score 2.1 points below the national Indigenous average in 2017, with a score of 47.4. This is 7.9 points below the overall state average, and 9.1 points below the Australian average. There has been an improvement for Indigenous Queenslanders of 3.6 points since
2014, which slightly outpaces the state increase of 3.2.