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With a growing range of education, information, government, and community services moving online, internet access is increasingly regarded as an essential service. The benefits of the digital economy cannot be shared when some members of the community are still facing real barriers to online participation. 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. Digital inclusion is likely also to be important for our national welfare: it is, for example, a necessary element in the environmental, social and economic transformations embodied in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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 six-year period from 2014 to 2019. Higher scores mean greater digital inclusion. This 2019 ADII report incorporates data collected up to March 2019, and revises earlier editions.

Key findings:

  • Digital inclusion is improving in Australia
  • The gaps between digitally included and excluded Australians are substantial and widening for some groups
  • Rural Australia leads the way in NBN take-up and access improvements
  • Building digital confidence is important for enhancing digital inclusion
  • Although value for money has improved, affordability remains a key challenge
  • Mobile-only users are less digitally included
  • The age gap is substantial but narrowed in 2019
  • The digital inclusion gap between Australians with disability and other Australians is substantial but narrowed in 2019
  • Indigenous digital inclusion is low, but improving
  • Geography plays a critical role
  • Some Australians are particularly digitally excluded
  • Collaboration across all levels of government is needed
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