But first, how does Telstra define Digital Inclusion?
Telstra says that: “Digital inclusion is recognised as one of the key social justice challenges facing policy makers and communities worldwide. Digital inclusion is not just about computers, the internet or even technology.
Now, “social justice” is a term not everyone agrees with, but I can certainly agree that we all need to learn more about how to use technology, how technology should be, can be and is our friend, and shouldn’t be our enemy.
As president of the Sydney PC and Technology User Group, and as someone who has spent much of my life in person, print, on TV, radio and online helping other people get more from the technologies they use and take for granted every day, digital inclusion is worth fighting for, and delivers real benefits to us all.
The Sydney PC and Technology User Group is one of the hundreds of members of ASCCA, the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association, headed by its highly regarded and hugely respected president, Nan Bosler; ASCCA is the peak body for all tech user groups in the country specifically aimed at seniors, many of whom did not grow up with technology in the same way that I did, or that many of the youth of today effortlessly do.
While there are surely still kids today who don’t grow up knowing technology at an effortless, digital-native level, the tech user groups around the country are doing an amazing job, usually unpaid as volunteers, to promote as much digital inclusion as possible to all age groups.
Now, that is all separate to 'The Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2017', which is presented by Telstra, and powered by Roy Morgan Research, RMIT and Swinburne University’s Centre for Social Imapct.
The Index shows that digital inclusion is growing in Australia, and that “Australians are spending more time — and are doing more — online.”
Since 2014, when data was first collected, Telstra says “Australia's overall digital inclusion score has improved by 3.8 points, from 52.7 to 56.5. In 2016-17 alone, Australia's score rose by two points, from 54.5 to 56.5".
It’s definitely worth reading the report for yourself, but some of the headline findings in the executive summary alone are as follows:
- The gaps between digitally included and excluded Australians are substantial and widening.
- Across the nation, digital inclusion follows some clear economic and social contours.
- In general, Australians with low levels of income, education, and employment are significantly less digitally included.
- There is still a ‘digital divide’ between richer and poorer Australians.
- Access continues to improve.
- Affordability remains a challenge for some excluded groups, although value has improved.
- The ‘age gap’ is substantial and widening.
- Women are less digitally included, particularly those aged 65+.
- For people with disability digital inclusion is low, but improving.
- Indigenous digital inclusion is low, but improving.
- Some Australians are particularly digitally excluded.
- Geography plays a critical role.
You can freely download and read the full report here (PDF link).