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Regional SA on wrong side of digital divide

Regions need to be the focus of state digital inclusion strategy

The South Australian Council of Social Service is today highlighting the needs of regional and remote communities in SA in its call for a state strategy to overcome digital disadvantage

The need for the state government to develop a strategy to ensure that everyone has access to and can participate in the digital economy is the key proposal of the SACOSS State Budget submission and is based on the fact that South Australia is the worst performing mainland state in the Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII).* But regional South Australia rates significantly worse than Adelaide in the index on all three areas of access, affordability and ability to use digital technologies.

SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley said, “Digital inclusion is important everywhere to ensure that all South Australians can access the jobs of the future and participate fully in a digital world, but it is particularly important for people in rural and regional areas because digital technologies have a special role in overcoming the disadvantages that arise from distance and remoteness."

"Digital technologies can link farmers to markets, give access to shops and services in regional areas – everything from banks to education and e-health, and help people and families keep in touch.”

Just how badly are we doing?

  • The ADII Eyre region (incorporating the Eyre Peninsula and the north of South Australia) rates as one of the lowest areas in the country in the digital inclusion index. It has an ADII score of 45.6
  • The South East is also well behind the rest of the country with a score of just 46.8
  • The Yorke & Murray region is only marginally ahead of Eyre and the South East, with a score of 48.5.
  • The overall ADII score for country SA is 47.3,which is significantly lower than the ADII score of 52.8 for Adelaide.

Table of ADII Scores for Regional SA“The gap between Adelaide and regional areas evident in the digital inclusion index is not acceptable and we need specific programs to assist people in regional areas,” says Womersley.

“It is clear that we need a strategy to address South Australia’s relatively poor performance on digital inclusion generally, but we need that strategy to have a particular focus on regional and remote areas to make sure we are not leaving anyone behind in our state.”

A SACOSS Fact Sheet on Digital Inclusion in Regional SA is at: https://www.sacoss.org.au/digital-inclusion-fact-sheet-regional-sa

Download the SACOSS State Budget submission 2017-18.

For more information and comment, contact:

Ross Womersley, SACOSS CEO: 0418 805 426

* The Australian Digital Inclusion Index was produced by the Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University of Technology, supported by Telstra, using data from Roy Morgan Research. https://digitalinclusionindex.org.au/

Published Date: 
Tuesday, 18 April 2017