Data released today shows that South Australia still lags the nation in addressing digital disadvantage.
The 2017 Australian Digital Inclusion Index, published by RMIT, was launched today in Melbourne. It measures 8 aspects of digital inclusion, giving each of them a score out of 100.
The 2017 data shows that digital inclusion in South Australia improved by 2.4 points over the last year, but SA still has the lowest score for all mainland states and territories.
South Australia was below the national average on all 8 indicators of digital inclusion, with the biggest difference being affordability, although overall the greatest challenge still remains digital ability – people’s attitudes, skills and usage of digital technologies.
The gap between South Australia and the national figures decreased by 0.4 points in the last year, but has remained largely unchanged over the last four years and even with the relative improvement in the last year, it would take 7 years to bridge the gap.
There was however some good news in the demographic data with the gap between people with disabilities and the rest of the population, and between Adelaide and regional areas being narrower in this year’s data than previous years.
SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley said, “We live in a digital age, and the jobs and social interactions in the future will increasingly be digital so it is essential that all members of the community have access to, and can use and take advantage of the technology.”
“In this context, the Digital Inclusion Index provides us with valuable data to help ensure that vulnerable people are not left behind.”
“While it is good news that there was some improvement in overcoming digital disadvantage in the last year, South Australia still lags behind the national average and the nature of digital disadvantage is that as more and more people are digitally connected, those who are not suffer more disadvantage – the digital divide becomes narrower but deeper.”
Several socio-demographic groups in SA are more digitally excluded, with ADII scores substantially below the state average (53.9).
In ascending order, these groups are:
• older Australians (41.5),
• people in low income households (41.5),
• people with a disability (45.1),
• people who did not complete secondary school (45.2),
• and people not in paid employment (48.8).
“The data shows that we need to do more work to support people to be digitally connected, and particularly older and low income people, as well as those with disability, people who didn’t complete secondary school, and not in paid work.”
“As we struggle with economic restructuring, we should be aspiring to be leading the nation towards the digital economy, not lagging behind or just average.”
Addressing our state’s digital ability is the responsibility of the state government, and SACOSS is calling for a whole of government strategy to address digital disadvantage to capitalise on the opportunities of the digital economy across South Australia. SACOSS hopes that going in to the 2018 state election all parties will have well-structured policies to promote digital inclusion.
The Australian Digital Inclusion Index can be downloaded at: https://digitalinclusionindex.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Australian-Digital-Inclusion-Index-2017.pdf