SACOSS welcomes the release today of the 2021 Australian Digital Inclusion Index, showing an improvement in digital inclusion in South Australia. The new data shows SA again has the second worst score of all states and territories, but our score improved from 63.0 to 69.0 in the last year to be just 2.1 points behind the national average (by comparison with the 4.5 point gap last year).
The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) is put together by academics from 2 universities on behalf of Telstra* and scores online access, affordability and digital ability against an ideal of someone who has all the attributes of digital inclusion (score = 100).
SACOSS CEO, Ross Womersley said:
“Digital inclusion is important because in a world where commerce, employment, education, social interactions and government services and information are all online, not being online is a pathway to poverty and isolation.”
“We know from previous years’ Indexes that digital exclusion reflects and compounds other social disadvantage. Those with less education, lower incomes, or not in work, are likely to struggle with digital inclusion, and those in regional areas also score lower.”
“Particularly alarming is the finding in the Index that adequate phone and internet connection is unaffordable for low-income households. SACOSS has set an affordability benchmark of telecommunications expenditure of less than 5% of household expenditure, but the ADII data shows that all households in the lowest income quintile and 84% of those in the second lowest income quintile would need to spend in excess of that to get adequate services.”
“The digital inclusion index is a good measure of how we are going as an inclusive digital society, and while it is good to see an improvement in the SA score, it is disappointing that we remain below the national average.”
“We know the SA government recognises this problem and we welcome the fact that they are now working on a state digital inclusion strategy. However, to continue to improve our digital inclusion will require more than just a strategy. It will require a long-term investment of resources to make it happen, particularly in relation to digital skills, where SA is furthest behind the national average.”
For a model of what digital inclusion looks like in SA, and some SACOSS proposals of how to get there, take a look here.
*Thomas, J., Barraket, J., Parkinson, S., Wilson, C., Holcombe-James, I., Brydon, A., Kennedy, J. (2021). Australian Digital Inclusion Index: 2021, Dashboard Dataset Release 1. Melbourne: RMIT and Swinburne University of Technology, and Telstra.